There are certain films that send you swimming in waves of nostalgia just by spotting one of the stars in another film, seeing a still, or merely hearing the movie’s title. John Hughes’ Pretty in Pink, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, is one of those movies.
I don’t know about you, but hearing that Pretty in Pink is 30 years old made me rush to the mirror to check for wrinkles and gray hairs. It's one of those films that even though Molly Ringwald, Andrew McCarthy and Jon Cryer took on the roles of Andie, Blane and Duckie three decades ago, it still feels new, poignant and fresh (expect for the wardrobe – which screams '80s).
As I reflect on Pretty in Pink and Hughes’ other teen masterpieces like The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles, I can’t help but think about how important, impactful and totally fun his films were for me growing up as a teen. I also think about Jake Ryan, but really, how could you not?
As a mother of an on-the-verge-of-tweendom girl, I am itching to have a John Hughes movie marathon with my daughter. But is she ready? I loved these films, but are these movies age appropriate for our kids and tweens? My own memories of specific inappropriate behavior and language in each of the films was a little hazy (30 years, remember?) so, I sat down and watched them all again through grown-up eyes. Here’s a refresher on what to expect. P.S., turns out I'll be waiting at least a few years to show these to my daughter.
Note: The clips selected below are not approved for family viewing and some parents may find them offensive. They are meant to provide a clear idea of the language and situations found in these films.
Pretty in Pink (1986)
The story: A love triangle, high school style, is the focus of Pretty in Pink. Andie (Molly Ringwald) is one of the odd-girls out in her high school and is far from popular, spending her time with her best friend Duckie (Jon Cryer). Andie meets a new boy at school, the rich, handsome and popular Blane, and things get complicated, especially since Duckie is hopelessly in love with her.
What parents need to know: The film shows teens behaving badly such as swearing (including the f-word), drinking, smoking, rolling a joint and trashing a family home during a raucous party. There’s also a long kissing scene and sexual references.
Sixteen Candles (1984)
Rated PG (was released before the PG-13 rating debuted)
The story: It’s Samantha’s (Molly Ringwald) 16th birthday but her big day is overshadowed by sister’s upcoming nuptials. The one thing that distracts her from the chaos at home is her huge crush on the most popular boy is school – Jake Ryan (Michael Schoeffling) – and it turns out, (spoiler alert) the feelings are mutual.
What parents need to know: In the film, teens engage in sex, several drink a whole lot (with various characters becoming very inebriated), there is talk of birth control, sex and virginity, there’s a nude shower scene and in one part a teen talks about having sex with a girl when she is passed out. The f-word and the a-word are both in the dialogue.
The Breakfast Club (1985)
The story: Five high school students – the jock, the hood, the rich girl, the geek and the basket case – are all assigned to a Saturday detention. While they are all, on the surface, drastically different, it turns out they have much more in common then they would have ever thought.
What parents need to know: There are many mature topics discussed in the film such as sex, abuse, depression and suicide. The teens also smoke pot (in the school library), another smokes cigarettes, and one brandishes a switchblade. There is a whole lot of swearing including several uses of the f-word.
Weird Science (1985)
The Story: Two unpopular and nerdy high school boys (Anthony Michael Hall and Ilan Mitchell-Smith) use their computer skills to create the perfect woman (Kelly LeBrock). Their artificial woman, named Lisa, turns out not to be their sexual plaything (as they had hoped) but instead becomes more of a mentor.
What parents need to know: The concept that the boys create Lisa to fulfill their lustful fantasies is a pretty mature plot point to begin with. Beyond that there is drinking, instances of nudity and mild profanity (s-word, a-word and a few other curse words as well as questionable phrases).
Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
The Story: Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) wants a day off of school. He and his pal Cameron (Alan Ruck) and his girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara), “borrow” Cameron’s dad’s red Ferrari and drive to Chicago for the day. Meanwhile, the school principal is convinced that Bueller is playing hooky and is obsessed with trying to catch him.
What parents need to know: The film’s focus is the defiance of authority, which is something you probably want to chat with your kids about. Beyond celebrating skipping school there is bad behavior on the part of the main protagonist such as lying and stealing a car. There’s also many instances of swearing (including the f-word, a-word and the s-word).
Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)
The story: High school misfit Keith (Eric Stolz) is good friends with the tomboy Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson). When Keith asks out Amanda (Lea Thompson), the most popular girl in school, Watts realizes that she has deep feeling for Keith. Meanwhile, Amanda’s ex-boyfriend (Craig Sheffer) from the rich part of town becomes jealous and plots against Keith.
What parents need to know: Beyond the more mature relationship storyline, there are a few minor references to sex. The character Watts is seen smoking several times. As for swearing, the s-word and the a-word is uttered throughout and the f-word is used once.