Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns


According to Douthat. people are complaining that it’s not as funny as Judd’s other movies. Well, it’s not, and like his other movies it’s needlessly gross. But it’s a movie about comedians. The best of them, of course, are kind of screwed up, shy, and not that funny in real life. Adam Sandler and Josh Rogen do more than decent jobs portraying funny men in public who have a hard time being happy or acting grown up in private. I could criticize the movie a dozen different ways, but it is worth seeing. It’s certainly conservative in defending personal love and family responsibility and ordinary decency and all that, although a liberal might say such a low-level defense of civilization could hardly be the exclusive province of conservatives. (I can’t believe ol’ Ross wasted one of his NYT shots on this.)

Ross mentions in passing the great comedic filmaker John Hughes, who just died and richly deserves a column’s sustained attention. My question to you: Which of Hughes’ great movies is the greatest--SIXTEEN CANDLES, FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF, or PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES? John Candy, of course, towers over Sandler and Rogen as a genuinely funny, sad man on the screen (although apparently a very happy family guy in real life).

Discussions - 15 Comments

Road trip to Shermer Illinois? Why not the breakfast club?

PRETTY IN PINK and BREAKFAST CLUB are too preachy about "mores" and class and all for me. They're good, though. Write- in are allowed, as long as they're justified.

Ferris Bueller's day off then. But to be fair to the other selections I can't remmember them and might never have seen them.

If the category was high school movies I would still have breakfast club and ferris bueller's day off near the top. Interestingly enough I might put "outsiders" on top which I would say is more about class(cliques) than the more lighthearted breakfast club is. Alternatively porky's might work and would probably also make the list.

The 1980's were strong in this genre, but if you review/justify these movies too seriously don't you just end up sounding rather foolish?

Peter- Saw Funny People and was NOT amused, or prompted to think the story had conservative bent. Help. Say more. I value the judgment you have as I read a lot of your posts, but this vouching for Funny People leaves me confused. I think I missed the point of the film

My soft spot is for Sixteen Candles, which managed to be funny, sweet and a little raunchy at the same time. The Anthony Michael Hall character is an all-time movie nerd. Unlike Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles does not take itself too seriously, and unlike Ferris Bueller, it doesn't make all authority look stupid.

Judging by my students' reactions to the Apatow movies, the "conservative" messages are completely lost in the adolescent giggling over all those penis jokes Ross mentions. They don't think the Steve Carrel character in Virgin is admirable, they think he is a joke to laugh at and they can't wait for the loser to "get laid." Frankly, I think those looking for conservative messages in either Apatow or Hughes are just trying too hard.

Wierd Science: Kelly LeBrock as a techno genie and Bill Paxton or was it Bill Pullman as the abusive older brother. I never really related to his movies, mabye I was born too late to understand the 80's teenage angst or whatever.

Ferris Bueller. If there was ever a conservative insurgent, it was Ferris. I'm sure that when he went to college, he started something like The Dartmouth Review. He probably dated Laura Ingraham.

I liked Weird Science, in fact, but there's not much to it. Ferris does present upper middle-class parents and teachers as clueless, and so very easy to manipulate for your own and your friends' personal enjoyment. (All of Hughes' movies make parents and teachers out to be clueless and boring. The only lovable one is the dad in PRETTY IN PINK, and he's absolutely ineffectual, of course.) Taken as an exaggeration, how untrue is that, really? And the movie makes clear that while Ferris imagines that his manipulations are harmless, that's actually not at all true. He's only a conservative in the sense of regarding liberal activism as silly. I also agree that the 40-yr-old virgin is not conservative. The man doesn't want to be a virgin and is utterly ridiculous because he is nonetheless. It's not a true love can wait movie, that's for sure.

Regarding John Hughes films I rank Planes Trains and Automobiles as the best--then Uncle Buck. These are movies which show problems in typical American families, but which show the ways in which one can point outside of the ordinary modes to save the very institution itself. In both cases, John Candy serves this role and he does it well.

If one had to pick the teen movies, then I like Breakfast Club, but I appreciate and appreciated at the time Anthony Michael Hall's performance in Sixteen Candles. As king of the geeks back then, Hall handled it with aplomb. Pretty in Pink was Hughes' high school version of Dreiser. Class conflict in America in a scenario that does not include a murder? It's Winnetka, Ill. vs. what? the south side of Winnetka? For an 80s film on "class" and romance see the film Valley Girl--itself limited but at least we knew it was Hollywood vs. the San Fernando Valley. I always found Ferris Beuler to be too precious. I suppose one could call him excellent, but he is excellent at shirking anything a high schooler is expected to do. He's too cool for school, and he has been a dangerous influence (albeit in harmless and ridiculous ways). He offers no thought, only coolness.

No props for Pretty in Pink?

Uncle Buck includes Hughes' only credible parental figure, of course--
Buck himself. The Buck character was quite up to Candy's great ability, though. VALLEY GIRL sort of dropped off the map but didn't deserve to. It is wry as the sky about California class conflict--and Sonny Bono as the aging, domesticated hippy and Nicholas Cage as the Hollywood guy are both, in different ways, full of charm and class. Probably better than Hughes and with a far more memorable soundtrack. (I guess it may be hard to show today because of the tune sung by the girl band--Johnny Are You Queer (Boy)?

Thanks, John, for throwing UNCLE BUCK into the mix. I love PLANES and FERRIS, but UNCLE BUCK is probably my favorite. Buck's confrontation with the insufferable assistant principal ("I'm Buck Melanoma. Moley Russell's wart....") is one for the comedy hall of fame.

I have vaguely-remembered fond feelings for Pretty in Pink as well, but maybe those vagueities have more to do with the Psychedelic Furs song.

And yes, Ferris Bueller was very funny and zippy enough to transcend the usual Hughes crap about how yer parents messed you up,(the Devil--Ma and Pa--made me do it!) But otherwise...

...John Hughes' movies STUNK!!! The very sour smell of a wanna-still-be-hip boomer trying to get with Teenage-Sexuality-Today(circa early eighties, according to the usual pat liberal experts), because of course he CARED, but also, er, for the sake of the National Lampoon laugh track code. That's what's so utterly awful about the much-adored Sixteen Candles, and it is all the worse for Ringwald's character and her story actually being winningly real, and for Hall's performance. I guess what's awful is that many in my generation sloppily embraced it (and to a lesser degree the others) as somehow representative of our lives, when it was in many ways as clueless as those teachers in Ferris. Sixteen Candles was just a crummy little laugh-track movie that had a few unexpected charms, and an uncharming seriousness about how much it "got" the way teens were now. And gag me with a spoon before I get going on the Breakfast Club...a movie that wound up more tedious than your high school's most mediocre guidance counselor ever could be.

And I've never seen Trains, etc. for some reason...

Carl, on the Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles... yes, Yes, YES!!

A better Breakfast Club movie would be if every person in the movie (the kids, the teacher, the janitor, everybody) all died bloody and painful deaths.

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