Sixteen Candles (1984)

When you're just sixteen anything can happen!

A teenage girl deals with her parents forgetting her birthday and a crush on her high school's heartthrob.

I've never bagged a babe. I'm not a stud.
It's Samantha Baker's 16th birthday and her family are so wrapped up in her sisters impending wedding, they have completely forgotten Sam's big day. Not only that but she has the hots for school hunk Jake Ryan who, apparently doesn't know she even exists. Her existence, however, is noted by freshman Ted "The Geek" who lusts after her at every opportunity. Being 16 really isn't all it's cracked up to be, maybe?
John Hughes directs his first feature film and sets out his marker for the career that was to come for the astute observer of teen angst and coming of age drama.
Featuring Hughes faves Molly Ringwald (Sam0 & Anthony Michael Hall (Ted), Sixteen Candles is frothy on the outside but not without cunning substance on the inside. It's the sort of film that is easy to forgive its obviousness on account of its understanding of its characters, something that Hughes was a master of. Even as we run through the staple requirements of the teen comedy movie (dance, party, making out etc ) Hughes manages to avoid the cliché pitfalls of such sequences by fuelling them with believable patois.
His cast, with the exception of the dull Michael Schoeffling (Jake), are sparky and engaging throughout. With the Cusack siblings, John & Joan also showing up in the strong supporting cast. There's an Asian exchange student thread that some have tried to paint as stereotypically offencive, but that is nonsense! Gedde Watanabe ensures the role is the fun and harmless one it's meant to be.
The soundtrack is kicking and very at one with the story (another knack of Hughes), it features the likes of The Specials, The Revillos, Billy Idol, The Stray Cats and The Thompson Twins. And the Evanston, Illinois location work really fleshes out the feeling of the piece.
Not just a film for 80s nostalgists then, one for pretty much anyone who was 16 and had their emotions pulled all over the place. 7/10

Universal Pictures by John Hughes.
Stars: Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Justin Henry, Michael Schoeffling.

Genres: Comedy, Romance

Keywords: birthday nerd high school crush farce teenage crush convertible teenager exchange student night vision goggles

05/04/1984

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