Thursday, October 27, 2011

Movie – Sixteen Candles (1984)

Sixteen Candles is one of the 1980’s John Hughes movies that is beloved by a generation of people who grew up on them.  Being male, and just out of my teens when I first saw it, I could not fully identify with Molly Ringwald’s character, but I could still enjoy the movie.  It was made at a time when filmmakers could have teenagers talking like actual teenagers and not get an R rating from the MPAA.  It was made with many actual teenagers, too.  Ah, those were the days.

Molly Ringwald plays Samantha, a girl whose sixteenth birthday is being overlooked because her older sister is going to be getting married the day after.  Everybody in her family is paying attention to her sister and not her.  To make matters worse, she has a crush on a boy at school and a sex quiz that she took where she reveals she is a virgin and that he is the chosen one has fallen into his hands.  Making things even worse, she has a freshman geek (Anthony Michael Hall) that just won’t leave her alone.

At home she finds that her grandparents have arrived already for the wedding and they have brought along a foreign exchange student with them by the name of Long Duk Dong.  He has got to be one of the least politically correct characters ever put into a movie.  If this was being made today the character would very likely be completely dropped from the film.  Samantha ends up having to take him to the school dance where he almost immediately picks up a girl.  It turns out my man Long Duk Dong is a playa.

Samantha continues to get into small amounts of trouble, including being convinced by the geek to loan him her panties so that he can appear to be a big shot among his other freshman friends.  He immediately starts charging money for guys to see them.  There is also a party that gets considerably out of hand.  If you’re wondering if everything works out okay for her then you must never have seen a teen romantic comedy.

The movie has a ton of lines that have entered pop culture.  A sampling:  “I can’t believe they forgot my fucking birthday”; “I can’t believe my grandmother just felt me up”; “I can’t believe I gave my panties to that geek” – all from Molly Ringwald’s character – am I the only one sensing a pattern here? – and of course Long Duk Dong’s classic “What’s happening, hot stuff.”

I find it interesting that out of all the talented members of the young cast, which included Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, future Academy Award nominee Joan Cusack, Jami Gertz, Michael Schoeffling, and prior Academy Award nominee Justin Henry, the one who would go on to have the best career was John Cusack, who only had a small role in the movie. 

Every teenager should see this film at some point.  Even though it was made in the 1980s, I am sure it will still ring true with them today.  If you saw it yourself as a teenager, you should go back and watch it again now to see if it still holds up for you.  Even better, if you’ve got teenagers of your own, watch it with them and see if they get embarrassed by some of the scenes.

Chip’s Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

[Note – you can see all the Movies by Numbers, as well as get some hints on what’s to come, at this link.]

           DVD                  Instant Video

1 comment:

  1. Molly Ringwald plays Samantha, a girl whose sixteenth birthday is being overlooked because her older sister is going to be getting married the day after.

    This is why I feel bad for folks that were born very close to Christmas. They are always overlooked.