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Sixteen Candles
3 reviews

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Movie Details

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Directed By
John Hughes

Written By:
John Hughes

Molly Ringwald, Justin Henry, Michael Schoeffling, Haviland Morris, Gedde Watanabe, Anthony Michael Hall, Paul Dooley, Carlin Glynn, Blanche Baker, Edward Andrews, Carole Cook, Max Showalter, Liane Curtis, John Cusack, Joan Cusack, Brian Doyle-Murray, Jami Gertz, Zelda Rubinstein, Billie Bird

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Sixteen Candles (1984)
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Movie Review by Tony
February 23rd, 2006

John Hughes directorial debut came in 1984 with "Sixteen Candles". It was the start of a string of classic high school teen comedies and romances by him that are still enjoyed, viewed, and loved to this very day. But this was his first and some say his best. About a teenage girl (Molly Ringwald) who has her sixteenth birthday and no one in her family remembers this event. They are all preoccupied with her older sisters wedding to some boneheaded idiot.

We get a lot of the typical high school movie drama in this film. The big party, the hunky guy, the b*tchy blond, the dorky kid, the shy yet cute wallflower. But John Hughes takes materials that are usually fodder for a connect the dots teenage comedy/romance and turns this film into something innocent, sweet, and realistic. Hughes has an ear, eye, and vision for high school life and uses this to make this film goofy, yet very sweet.

Molly Ringwald does a terrific job as Samantha by playing her as innocent yet not naive. She yearns for a senior boy named Jake Ryan who looks an awful look like Matt Dillion. He knows this, yet he is dating a sexy blond named Caroline. But he can't help but wonder if there is something more out there and if he is missing out on true love. Samantha thinks he does know she exists. She's also fighting off the rather forward and blunt affections of a kid named Geek played by Anthony Michael Hall.

The first 30 minutes of the film seem typical, but everything changes during a scene in the car with Geek and Samantha. They sit in a car in the shop and they talk to each other, listen, and communicate. They discuss insecurities, fears, love, and life. Everyone in this film is likable, interesting, has insecurities, and trying to figure out themselves in this crazy world of high school. In these types of films the geek is usually used for jokes, to ridicule and insult. Here he's seen as just trying to fit in. The film then takes on a whole different dimension and role.

In a lesser film, the geeks are used, walked over, and abused for the sake of laughs and the screenplay. Here they are given life, characters, and helped as Molly Ringwald gives her underpants to the Geek to help him win a bet. No one is being rude, looking down on them, or spitting at them. Everyone has a heart and certain kindness and sweetness to them in this film.

The film also pays tribute to the parents as they apologize, are easy to talk to, and willing to help. They are not the clueless parents you find in most of the films. Where chaos and nonsense is ensuing and they are oblivious to it. Paul Dooley does an effective job as her father, who is a real nice guy. Gedde Watanable is also hysterical as the exchange student who breaks any stereotypes you had about him and his role later on in the film as he becomes a party animal.

There is lots of teen high school films. Some good, some bad, some awful. But Hughes found a connection with teenagers in the 80s. He knew their fears, secrets, insecurities, hope, feelings, and their regrets. He was in high school himself. The reason his films ring true today as they did in the 80's is because things are the still the same. Everyone wants the hunky guy, everyone wants to be loved, fit in, accepted, and have a place in the high school world. Hughes shows that, while at the same time not dumbing down the high school world or insulting them. That in itself is an accomplishment.

Tony Farinella

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