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Sandie Angulo Chen

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Sandie Angulo Chen is a movie critic, WAFCA member, mother to three budding cinephiles, and a paid expert on what movies will give kids nightmares.

Best John Hughes Homages in Movies

If you don’t know your Ferris Bueller from your Jake Ryan, or why Emmy-winner Jon Cryer will forever live on as Duckie to an entire generation of moviegoers, you’re in desperate need of an education in John Hughes 101.

The late writer-director-producer was the king of teen films, and as dated as the fashions or the soundtracks might seem to younger viewers, his movies are still cultural touchstones. In “Pitch Perfect,” a character woos Anna Kendrick’s Beca by schooling her in “The Breakfast Club,” but there’s nothing new about a teen-targeted movie referencing the master of coming-of-age tales. Here are six more Hughesian movies.

1. “Easy A” (2010)
Emma Stone’s lovable protagonist Olive is obsessed with ’80s romantic comedies, particularly those by John Hughes. In fact, her voice-over explicitly namechecks his most famous works. “I want Jake from ‘Sixteen Candles’ waiting outside the church for me. I want Judd Nelson thrusting his fist into the air because he knows he got me. Just once I want my life to be like an ’80s movie, preferably one with a… really awesome musical number for no apparent reason. But no, John Hughes did not direct my life.”

2. “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” (2010)
We could say the entire movie is like “The Breakfast Club” in a psychiatric hospital, but the overt homage is when Craig (Keir Gilchrist) and Noelle (Emma Roberts) run through the hospital in a scene that mimics when the characters played by Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez and Judd Nelson bolt through Shermer High. There’s even a “Ferris Bueller”-style musical number set to David Bowie’s “Under Pressure.” Directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck explained their love of Hughes to the New York Times in 20120. “[I]n his movies, there’s such warmth and there’s a love of life and they’re exciting,” Fleck said.

3. “Detention” (2011)
This indie teen horror comedy is a mash-up of various high school and horror film references, most notably “The Breakfast Club”-like setting (hence the name). Star Josh Hutcherson’s skaterboy ends up in detention during the prom with a group of other kids from different cliques. In a nod to “Scream,” the twist is that one of the detainees is most likely the serial killer terrorizing their school. Other references include “Donnie Darko,” “Scream,” “She’s All That,” “Back to the Future,” “Freaky Friday” — you name it.

Some Kind of Wonderful4. “He’s Just Not That Into You” (2009)
We’re not huge fans of this single-in-the-city comedy, but we will give it points for referencing the love triangle in Hughes’ underrated “Some Kind of Wonderful.” Justin Long’s character Alex is somewhat of a lothario who finally realizes his friend Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin) is the one he’s meant to be with. Unlike the “Pretty in Pink” love triangle, in which Molly Ringwald’s Andie chooses preppy Blane (Andrew McCarthy) over her devoted pal Duckie (Jon Cryer), it’s the cool best friend (Mary Stuart Masterson) who wins the heart of her confusing crush Keith (Eric Stoltz) in “Some Kind of Wonderful.”

5. “Sky High” (2005)
For a high school movie set in a superhero academy, “Sky High” is more John Hughes-y than “Harry Potter” or “X-Men.” There are the cliquish divisions between the heroes and the sidekicks, romantic pining, well-meaning but clueless parents, and a soundtrack straight out of “Sixteen Candles.” We’d be remiss not to mention that a red-headed Danielle Panabaker even looks and acts like Molly Ringwald at her quirky, self-aware best.

6. “Not Another Teen Movie” (2001)
Last but not least is the movie that would have absolutely nothing to parody without Hughes’ legacy. The comedy spoofs every high-school movie imaginable, but the most obvious target (or tribute, depending how you look at it), is Hughes. The teens go to John Hughes High, play at Harry Dean Stadium and eat in Anthony Michael Dining Hall. One scene copies the “Eat my shorts” detention exchange between Bender and assistant principal Vernon from “The Breakfast Club” — heck, the character is still named Vernon and is played by the same actor, Paul Gleason. If that’s not enough, Hughes’ muse, Molly Ringwald, even makes an appearance.


Categories: Features, Lists

Tags: Andrew McCarthy, Anna kendrick, Danielle Panabaker, Detention, Easy a, Emilio estevez, Emma roberts, Emma stone, Eric stoltz, Ginnifer goodwin, He's just not that into you, It's kind of a funny story, Jon cryer, Josh hutcherson, Judd Nelson, Justin long, Keir Gilchrist, Mary Stuart Masterson, Molly ringwald, Not another teen movie, Paul Gleason, Pitch Perfect, Pretty in Pink, Sixteen candles, Sky High, Some Kind of Wonderful, The breakfast club

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