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The man who understood teenagers
Macleans ^ | 11/8/06 | Shanda Deziel

Posted on 11/10/2006 10:47:08 AM PST by qam1

A new documentary appeals to AWOL filmmaker John Hughes to come back

They just don't make teen movies like they used to, sighs every thirtysomething who remembers wanting to be Molly Ringwald or be with Molly Ringwald. Anyone who grew up in the era of John Hughes's The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, etc., thinks that the teens of today are getting short shrift from American Pie, Not Another Teen Movie and anything starring Lindsay Lohan or the Olsen twins. But it turns out this is not just one generation's nostalgia or condescension. According to a new documentary, Don't You Forget About Me -- which examines the lasting impact of Hughes's movies -- today's teens also cite those films as the ones that best represent the way they look, feel and act. According to the filmmaker, Matt Austin, "All the teens we interviewed said that they can't relate to any of the movies that have come out for them in the last decade." So Austin had the teens send a message to Hollywood and to Hughes. "To Hollywood," says Austin, "they gave the finger and to Hughes they said, 'Come back.' "

That's not likely to happen. Hughes, 56, hasn't directed a film since 1991's Curly Sue. Every once in a while he pops up with a writing credit -- providing a story outline or as a script editor -- but otherwise, he's completely distanced himself from Hollywood. He hasn't given an interview since the '80s (even then, they were few and far between) -- and is thought to be living in Chicago or maybe Wisconsin. He's the J.D. Salinger of the movie biz. But it's become Austin's mission to get the recluse on camera. (The documentary is in the last stages of production.)

After many dead ends, the filmmakers finally made a connection with Hughes's lawyer. "He's on our side," says Austin, "but even he says, 'Good luck, John Hughes just doesn't do interviews.' " So Austin is putting together a clip reel of people he's talked to -- teens, actors, filmmakers inspired by him -- all saying, "Thank you" or "Come back." Austin plans on giving that video to every single person who might be able to get it to Hughes. "Right now, I'm very hopeful that we're going to get him. My genuine feeling is we'll get a call."

Austin didn't have trouble finding other people to talk about Hughes. He and his writing partner Lenny Panzer had the idea one day, and by the next day they had producers, Kari Hollend and Michael Facciolo, and an interview set up with Ally Sheedy (The Breakfast Club). The film was in production within a week. "On other projects, when you tell people what you're doing you get a mix of reactions," says Austin, 28. "This is the first thing I've ever worked on where immediately everyone smiles and thinks it's a great idea." He interviewed actors Judd Nelson (The Breakfast Club), Mia Sara (Ferris Bueller), Kelly LeBrock (Weird Science), as well as Simple Minds, who did The Breakfast Club theme song, Don't You Forget About Me. He also has Roger Ebert, director Kevin Smith, the producers of Napoleon Dynamite, Degrassi creator Linda Schuyler, and other big names talking about the genius of Hughes.

The consensus is that Hughes understood the awkwardness of being a teenager, he didn't shy away from real emotions, and he cast actors that looked the way teens look -- acne, braces, unwieldy bodies and all. "I identified most with Anthony Michael Hall," says Austin, referring to one of the "brat pack" stars. "I was the blond-haired, gangly kid with the headgear. I could see myself in the characters he played but I never saw him as a geek. He was a hero to me, he got to hang out with all these guys. And he was witty and funny."

But teens don't feel the same about the current crop of actors. "When you look at Molly Ringwald," says Austin, "she's very attainable. The kids we interviewed said all the girls in movies today, and the guys with square jaws, aren't attainable." Back in the days of Weird Science, the only perfect-looking girls -- like LeBrock's Lisa character -- were the ones the teenage boys created themselves. Now all the females in teen movies are curvy and well-endowed. Or super-skinny like Lohan. And the guys are impossibly buff, like Chris Klein. It's giving kids a warped sense of self, says Austin. "They see Seth on The OC and say, 'That's the geek?' "

Austin wants Hughes to see the film and know the extent of his impact. But it's even more important, he says, for the documentary to reach those who haven't fled Hollywood. "We're making this so people who do make teen movies say, 'Oh, so that's what a teen feels like, or that's what a teen's concerns are. We just thought it was sex and mobile phones.' "

TOPICS: History; TV/Movies
KEYWORDS: genx; johnhughes

1 posted on 11/10/2006 10:47:10 AM PST by qam1
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To: qam1; ItsOurTimeNow; PresbyRev; tortoise; Fraulein; StoneColdGOP; Clemenza; m18436572; ...
Something a little more light hearted after all this recent bad news

Xer Ping

Ping list for the discussion of the politics and social (and sometimes nostalgic) aspects that directly effects Generation Reagan / Generation-X (Those born from 1965-1981) including all the spending previous generations (i.e. The Baby Boomers) are doing that Gen-X and Y will end up paying for.

Freep mail me to be added or dropped. See my home page for details and previous articles.

2 posted on 11/10/2006 10:48:16 AM PST by qam1 (There's been a huge party. All plates and the bottles are empty, all that's left is the bill to pay)
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To: qam1

I was too young when he was in his prime, I liked Ferris Bueller and P,T, and A.

Other than that, not a fan.

Once Savage Steve Holland makes a comeback, give me a call.

3 posted on 11/10/2006 10:51:14 AM PST by Conservomax (There are no solutions, only trade-offs.)
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To: qam1

I loved Molly Ringworm in 16 Candles. I wanted to take her to the prom. She never replied to my letters.
After that, she was dead to me.

4 posted on 11/10/2006 10:51:19 AM PST by Holicheese (Beerfest could be the greatest movie ever made!)
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To: qam1

Some guys used to say I looked like Molly Ringwald. Of course, I have been told I look like a number of different actresses. I just don't see it.

5 posted on 11/10/2006 10:53:35 AM PST by HungarianGypsy
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To: HungarianGypsy

Interesting. I get told I look like a young Matthew Broderick (actor from the same era).

6 posted on 11/10/2006 11:07:50 AM PST by jdm
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To: Conservomax
I completely concur -- "Better Off Dead" was a freakin' MASTERPIECE!

"Gee, Ricky, I'm sorry your mom blew up."

I did like a lot of Hughes' movies, but BOD is one I can still quote word-for-word.

7 posted on 11/10/2006 11:42:59 AM PST by Malacoda (A day without a pi$$ed-off muslim is like a day without sunshine.)
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To: HungarianGypsy


8 posted on 11/10/2006 11:43:16 AM PST by Conservomax (There are no solutions, only trade-offs.)
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To: qam1

I miss Hughes' sense of humor. Even the movies he didn't direct (where he had a writing credit), you could still feel the "Hughes" touch.

9 posted on 11/10/2006 11:48:01 AM PST by dave k (Unplug the spin machine...)
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To: Conservomax

Don't have any really old pictures scanned and uploaded.

10 posted on 11/10/2006 11:48:40 AM PST by HungarianGypsy
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To: jdm

Ah! You look like Phillipe(sp?) the Mouse? What a cutie you must be. ;-)

11 posted on 11/10/2006 11:50:20 AM PST by HungarianGypsy
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To: qam1

Hughes did make some great movies. I watch them in reruns every chance I get.

12 posted on 11/10/2006 11:51:50 AM PST by opus86 ("I'm Buck Melanoma, Moley Russell's wart.")
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To: Malacoda
"This mountain is pure snow. Do you know what the street value is?"


I really wanted to buy my husband a Camaro like that for Christmas last year. Had to settle on buying the movie instead. My husband was watching the movie a few weeks back on satellite. I asked why he never watched the DVD. He had forgotten we owned the movie.

13 posted on 11/10/2006 11:53:39 AM PST by HungarianGypsy
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To: HungarianGypsy

Oh, LORD, "LadyHawke" was wonderful, as well.

14 posted on 11/10/2006 11:55:10 AM PST by Malacoda (A day without a pi$$ed-off muslim is like a day without sunshine.)
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Comment #15 Removed by Moderator

Comment #16 Removed by Moderator

To: qam1
I hope this guy is successful. I don't know how many times I saw Ferris Bueller, Sixteen Candles, etc.

Whenever I can, I try to fit this into a sentence: "Lake. Big lake."

17 posted on 11/10/2006 12:52:02 PM PST by ncdrumr
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To: FrPR

The freaky brunette you speak of is Ally Sheedy.

18 posted on 11/10/2006 2:46:04 PM PST by lesser_satan (EKTHELTHIOR!!!)
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To: qam1
This just proves that some Xers are as self centered as anyone else. There have been so very good teen movies, they just aren't aimed at us. Harold & Kumar go to White Castle, Mean Girls, 10 things I hate about you, Napoleon Dynamite, and American Pie.
19 posted on 11/10/2006 4:43:10 PM PST by Purple GOPer (The government is a group of people who are usually ungoverned.)
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Comment #20 Removed by Moderator

To: FrPR

Helping people change there thinking. Get rid of Stinkin Thinkin!

21 posted on 11/12/2006 11:47:33 AM PST by SFGI (Liberator of the Oppressed)
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