The first time I watched Sixteen Candles was on VHS; I was about 16 myself and my TV was dying so the entire film appeared to be shades of purple. I didn’t care. I watched the whole thing.
Again, this should have been one of the many tip-off’s to me that movies weren’t just a fun activity, they are my life. But even then, if I didn’t have that passion for movies that I now realize I have, I would have watched Sixteen Candles to the very end. Why? John Hughes has the amazing talent to create a world, to create characters that perfectly capture all of us at one point in our lives; in the case of a Hughes movie this typically means our adolescence.
The part that I cannot wrap my head around is how this man who is older than my father somehow manages in the case of Sixteen Candles to perfectly capture what it was like to be a sixteen year old girl.
Samantha Baker was me when I was sixteen, staring into the mirror and telling your best friend that you knew there wasn’t going to be a physical change, but the birthday felt like it should be such a momentous occasion that something was going to change, or that you had spent years imagining what it was going to be like to finally be sixteen. As an adult I look back on this line of thinking and know the error of my thoughts, but that doesn’t make them any less real. I was a teenage girl who thought life, romance and popularity would begin at sixteen. It’s a part of who I am and somehow, fourteen years before I was going to be sixteen John Hughes created a character that knew what it was like to be me.
Sixteen Candles is still popular today because Hughes was able to not just capture the pop culture alive and well in 1984, but something much more basic; Hughes caputured the plight of the American teenager, specifically the teenage girl. In doing this he does not demean the teenage plot, but uses his unique blend of comedy and drama to create a world that we all seem to remember as being our adolescence – whether we are male or female.
I am a fan of John Hughes, in fact I think he spawned the dozens of teen comedies that still invade our cinemas today. But none of those films will ever be as good as a Hughes film; these imitators forget the central point that Hughes so clearly uses his characters to illustrate: these are not just hormonal teenagers, they are human too.
Written & Directed: John Hughes
Samantha Baker: Molly Ringwald
Jake Ryan: Michael Schoeffling
Farmer Ted/The Geek: Anthony Michael Hall
Long Duck Dong: Gedde Watanabe
The Geek: You know, I'm getting input here that I'm reading as relatively hostile.
Samantha: Go to hell.
The Geek: VERY hostile.
Jim Baker: That's why they call them crushes. If they were easy, they'd call them something else.