The Breakfast Club

by Jakob Christy

Warning – The Breakfast Club features mature topics, including violence, drugs, partial nudity, and dark topics. If you would prefer to shy away from these topics, please don’t watch the movie. This article will avoid these topics, but please keep this in mind.

When you read the title of this movie, the first thing that comes to mind is probably the actual meal. The actual term was used sometime in the 1980’s by students who went to detention on Saturdays, referring to just that. And that is really what this movie was about. It’s five kids who connect with each other throughout detention.

A brain who fears failure in a class, and the repercussions with it. An athlete that just goes along with whatever his dad tells him to do, incapable of thinking on his own. A basket case that desires attention from her parents and wishes to run away. A princess that is given whatever she wants, at the expense of her parents constantly at each other’s throats.  A criminal that rebels against every rule he comes across, with an abusive father and a habit to tell people the cold, hard truth.


As The Breakfast Club tells us, “Each one of us is a brain. And an athlete. And a basket case. A princess. And a criminal.” This is true for every one of us, along with the character throughout the movie. The brain, as obedient as can be, isn’t afraid to leave his seat and mess around the library. The princess wishes that her parents were better. And the athlete wants to prove that he is right. You just have to look at it from the right angle.

An important part of this movie is its care for small details, as well as storytelling. The beginning of the movie shows the students arriving at school.

It first shows the brain, Brian Johnson, being scolded by his mother, and then told he better make use of the time to study, even if it means getting in trouble. This shows where his fear of failure comes in, afraid to let his mother angry. (A little note on this one, the license plate on their car is EMC2, also known as E = mc2, a well-known equation made by Albert Einstein. Neato.)

Next comes the athlete, Andrew Clark, with his father telling him he shouldn’t have gotten caught and was now upset he was missing his wrestling meet. This shows that his father was a troublemaker as a child, but he was now putting stress and criticism on Andrew.

Then comes the basket case, Allison Reynolds, who is dropped off without an introduction. She tries to approach the front window, but the car speeds off before giving her an opportunity. This shows that her parents are putting in minimal effort into caring for their daughter

During this moment with Allison, we can see the criminal, John Bender walking in a trench coat alone. With no parent to take him there, one can only figure that they didn’t care for him at all to even bring him to school.

After Allison, the princess, Claire Standish, is complaining that her father couldn’t get her out of detention, to which he apologizes sincerely, and tries to make it up to her. It’s obvious with this one, but it is clear what Claire’s role is as daddy’s princess.

The director makes it very clear about everyone’s role, and what life they are forced to lead. If it’s not evident already, a lot of these kids’ problems stem from their parent’s own ignorance and irresponsibility. This is the second lesson that this movie teaches, and it starts itself off with a quote that directly refers to that, quoted from David Bowie:

“…And these children

that you spit on

as they try to change their worlds

are immune to your consultations.

They’re quite aware

of what they’re going through…”

                         -David Bowie

Although I will not say my own interpretation of this quote, it seems that, in what we all are going through, it is a quote that I’m sure a lot of us can really relate to. That is really what this whole movie is about, even if it is already nearly two and a half decades old. It shows the troubles that teens must go through, not just through an abusive father or a negligent family, but just by things that wouldn’t necessarily seem all that important to others.

That is what people really love about this whole story. It doesn’t target the worst of the worst and make it just another sob story. It shows the whole picture, from the people who feel as if they must prove that they are the best that they can be, to those who simply are ignored on the whole. It leaves an important lesson, something we all have to learn.