John Hughes’s Legacy: My Five Favorite Movies

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Prolific director, John Hughes, passed away unexpectedly today. He suffered a heart attack during a morning walk while on a trip to Manhattan. I’m totally dating myself here but I grew up watching Hughes’ movies and quite saddened by his death. Though most of his iconic movies were released over 20 years ago, his movies have transcended time and are still as relevant in today’s pop culture as they ever were in the 80’s. John Hughes started as a copywriter in Chicago and even created the infamous Edge “Credit Card Shaving Test” ad campaign. After growing tired of the ad business, he began to do some comedy writing and sold jokes to performers like Rodney Dangerfield and Joan Rivers. One of his early works was the basis for “National Lampoon’s Vacation.”

His films have launched numerous careers and he’s had a habit of being loyal to his thespians that he’s discovered. He frequently would cast his actors in several movies. The best example of this would be John Candy, with whom he hired for eight of his projects. Others include Molly Ringwald (3), Macaulay Culkin (4) and Ally Sheedy (3). It is a dark day in Hollywood, as this revered director had such an impact in teen and pop culture. He’s worked in the industry for almost thirty years and In honor of his lifetime work, I am counting down my five favorite movies that John Hughes has had a hand in creating.

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5. Sixteen Candles – Director
This movie put Molly Ringwald on the map and began what would become the first in her 80s teen angst trilogy. In this movie she played an awkward teen who struggled to get through her sixteenth birthday. Poor Molly goes through a series of unfortunate events as no one in her family has remembered her birthday due to her sister getting married the next day. OMG. That is my biggest nightmare to wake up and have no one say “Happy Birthday”. I think I would jump off the bridge, right Adam? If you haven’t watched this, I suggest watching it to see all the references modern day teen spoofs have paid homage to. In addition, the love interest is kinda hot in an 80s sort of poor-man’s Tom Cruise kind-of-way.

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4. Vacation – Writer
If I could hum the first few bars of the theme song, you’d know exactly what I’d be talking about. After watching this movie as a kid, I totally wished Walley World was for real. Forget Disneyland, it was all about Walley World. This movie totally has a special place in my heart as my family used to take numerous summer road trips every year though none as eventful as Clark Griswold and co. faced. The movie was such a hit that it spawned three sequels: European Vacation; Christmas Vacation; and Vegas Vacation. A little bit of trivia here. Disneyland was actually the first option for the go-to-destination amusement park in Hughes’ original story that he wrote but then changed when the movie was made. The real-life substitute in the movie was Six Flags Magic Mountain.

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3. Home Alone – Writer & Producer
Every Christmas, I make sure to plug in the DVD at least once while wrapping gifts or decorating the tree. I friggin’ love this movie. Here is yet another example of John Hughes catapulting a young career into the public masses. Who can forget Macaulay Culkin with his hands on his face during the promotional push for the movie? We all know the story of little Macaulay being left behind while the rest of the family travels to Paris. Poor Kevin has to figure out how to survive all by himself during the holidays and at the same time fend of would-be burglars who are running around the neighborhood breaking into houses. The movie was such a success that it still stands today as one of the highest grossing live action comedies ever.

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2. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – Writer, Director & Producer
When this movie first came out, I didn’t get all the hoopla. But after re-watching it years later, I can’t believe I wasn’t in love with it from the first showing. It must’ve been me being an uber-nerd and looking down upon Matthew Broderick for skipping school. Oh my God, I’m totally Jennifer Grey in this movie- his super uptight sister who tried to narc him out to the principal. The movie follows Ferris, his girlfriend and BFF as they spend a spring day in downtown Chicago. During the movie, Broderick even occasionally speaks to the camera explaining his thoughts and gives techniques. Fast forward twenty years and we find Broderick’s real-life wife, Sarah Jessica Parker using the same technique during the first two season of Sex and the City. Personally, I’m glad they dropped that technique as I found it annoying. I digress. Let’s face it, whether or not we’re in high school or not we still like to play the occasional day of hooky. PS. Patrick I’m calling in sick tomorrow. LMAO

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1. The Breakfast Club – Writer, Director & Producer
In arguably the best teen movie ever made, where all other teen movies aspire to be. The Breakfast Club was an instant cult classic when it came out. Though a few years younger than the characters at the time of it’s release, I felt like they were my peers as I was an impressionable pre-teen. The movie chronicles a group of five high school students who are forced to spend an entire Saturday together for detention. This coming-of-age film launched the five stars into Hollywood’s A-List and were often referred to as the “Brat Pack” along with others (Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, Andrew McCarthy). This often-spoofed and imitated film will most likely be the film that defines John Hughes career. Just go to Wikipedia to check out the cultural impact this film has had on our society. It’s only fitting that the movie’s theme song “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” is as à propos for his life as well.