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I’m Karen, a Midwestern girl transplanted in the South, raised on ’80s music, Judy Blume, and the films of John Hughes. An early preoccupation with Rock ‘n’ Roll led me to spend my twenties working my way from intern to executive in the music industry. Now I’m a married mom of two, and instead of staying up late in rock clubs, I get up before dawn and write sexy contemporary romance starring hot heroes, served fresh.
In the second installment of John Hughes Fan Club, one of my closest author friends, Karen Stivali joins us! Karen delves deeper into the John Hughes archives than I did, which is awesome. I’m way too fixated on his teen movies. I admit it, fully. One epic teen moment she does touch on is the kiss in Some Kind of Wonderful. Sigh.
Karen Stivali, Author
Favorite John Hughes film: Some Kind Of Wonderful
And the runner-up, because let’s be honest—it’s hard to pick one: Ferris Beuller’s Day Off
Favorite moment of hilarity in a John Hughes film: I don’t think I can pick just one. Probably something from Planes, Trains and Automobiles, or Uncle Buck or Mr. Mom. As goofy as those movies are and as many times I’ve watched them, they still make me laugh.
Favorite poignant teenage moment in a John Hughes film: The “practice kiss” between Eric Stoltz and Mary Stuart Masterson in Some Kind Of Wonderful, where she tells him “No, you’re good.” It’s no secret that I’ve always been a sucker for friends to lovers stories and that kiss…*sigh*…because it still takes the rest of the movie for them to actually get together even after the ridiculous hotness of that kiss.
Best use of music in a John Hughes film: Don’t You Forget About Me in The Breakfast Club will always be the first song that comes to mind whenever I think about John Hughes films. Can’t hear that song without thinking about Judd Nelson walking across that field with one diamond stud in his ear.
Note: I do also love the Ferris Beuller parade float scene where he’s singing Twist and Shout and I love the soundtrack to Pretty In Pink.
Character in a John Hughes film that you most identify with and why: I think all John Hughes characters are relatable and that’s why people find his movies so comforting to watch. If I had to pick one character I’d probably go with the Ally Sheedy character in The Breakfast Club. I was definitely “that weird girl” in the eyes of a lot of people in my high school and I carried a massive purse full off all sorts of crazy things. She definitely reminds me of myself in school.
Not to sound like a geezer, but why don’t they make movies like this anymore? Not to sound like a film snob, but I’m glad they don’t. John Hughes films were part of the era and they’re still here for new generations to watch. I don’t think anyone should try to be “like” him. There are filmmakers making movies that speak more directly to young people today and, thanks to NetFlix and on-demand they can experience older classics like John’s movies anytime they want. Some Hughes films are more dated than others, but most hold up well because they dealt with struggles that all humans face—wanting to belong, feeling inadequate or unsure of themselves, dealing with bullies or annoying siblings or parents who just don’t understand, trying to juggle family responsibilities, trying to make holidays or vacations run smoothly—these are timeless themes and no one needs to or should try to copy them. They should refer people to the originals to keep his work alive.
Karen Stivali is a multi-published author of m/f and m/m contemporary romance. Check out MOMENTS IN TIME, a collection of coming of age stories that follow Collin and Tanner’s journey as they explore their first serious relationship together and make their way toward their HEA. You can find out more about Karen at karenstivali.com.
Allow me to call to order the first meeting of the John Hughes fan club. If you want to hang out in the clubhouse, you’re going to have to recite our pledge: “On my honor, I will do my best to watch Pretty in Pink and Planes, Trains, and Automobiles every time it is on cable. I will persevere in spreading the truth about John Bender, who was deep-down a really good kid, and ensure that movie fans of all ages have seen Sixteen Candles or Uncle Buck at least once. I will try my hardest not to complain that Andie didn’t end up with Duckie, and will always think that the Some Kind of Wonderful kiss in the garage was the best ever.”
I owe a lot to John Hughes, mostly because he made my teenage years in part, bearable. (This is where the second nod goes to Duran Duran.) His movies (particularly the trifecta of Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, and The Breakfast Club) made me feel less unappreciated, ignored, and misunderstood. He got me, and practically every other teenager…the geek, the brain, the popular girl, the jock, the delinquent, the goth girl, et al. He knew that we craved that one moment of personal triumph over whatever bugged us most–classmates, our parents, school–and we wanted to drive off in the kick-ass car listening to New Order after we did it. And so we begin the John Hughes Fan Club series, a love letter to the dearly-departed master of ’80s teen cinema…and because it’s my blog, I’m taking the first turn.
Karen Booth, author, ’80s girl
Favorite John Hughes film: Sixteen Candles. The cast is stellar (young John Cusack!), it’s hilarious (and yes, a bit wrong at moments), and sweet. Everything I want in a movie. Plus, unbearably hunky Jake Ryan. Cinematic gold.
And the runner-up, because let’s be honest—it’s hard to pick one: Breakfast Club is probably my second favorite. I just loved the arc of that movie…the way none of them really liked each other at the beginning and they slowly all came to understand each other. Anthony Michael Hall is especially amazing because he plays this character that is so simple on the outside and so complex on the inside. The scene where he’s talking about his friend being bullied in the locker room still makes me tear up.
Favorite moment of hilarity in a John Hughes film: The whole car scene in Sixteen Candles is so funny and adorkable–The geek trying to be smooth with Samantha, and the myriad ways in which he incorrectly reads every single cue. But if we’re going for sheer comedy, the moment when Samantha’s grandmother feels her up in the hall and says, “Look, Fred. Sam’s gotten her boobies. And they are so perky.”
Favorite poignant teenage moment in a John Hughes film: I feel a little bit like the poster child for Sixteen Candles, but there is no better ending for a film than the scene with Samantha and Jake kissing over the birthday cake.
“Make a wish.”
“It already came true.”
Gah! It’s so romantic, I want to die! The first time I watched the movie with my now seventeen year-old daughter, I told her during the opening montage that the ending was the best ever in a teen movie. She rolled her eyes and shushed me, so I shut my trap and enjoyed the ride. At the end, tears in her eyes, she turned to me and said, “Oh my God. Mom. It’s the best ending ever.” Parenting achievement unlocked.
Best use of music in a John Hughes film: Pretty in Pink, when Duckie lip syncs to Otis Redding’s Try a Little Tenderness. It’s gutsy and uninhibited and shows us what an idiot he’s willing to be to win over Andie. Second place would also be from Pretty in Pink, the scene where Duckie is listening to The Smiths Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want and realizing that Andie is out with Blane. Soul crushing.
Character in a John Hughes film that you most identify with and why: I’m probably most like Andie from Pretty in Pink, in that I was (and sorta still am) the queen of sewing and making my own clothes when I was a teenager and I also grew up with no money. The only hiccup is the Blane thing. I totally would’ve gone for Duckie.
Not to sound like a geezer, but why don’t they make movies like this anymore? Before I saw Sing Street a few weeks ago, I would’ve screamed, “I don’t know! It makes me sad!” John Carney restored my faith in movies about teenagers. Go see it. No, seriously. Don’t be lame. Go see it.
I’m planning on running these on a weekly basis for as long as I can get folks to participate. If you’re an author or an ’80s addict or just have something to say and are interested in playing, send me an email at karen [at] karen booth dot net, or shout at me on Facebook. Look for posts in the coming weeks from Karen Stivali, Margaret Ethridge (aka Maggie Wells), and Suzi Parker!