For those of us who came of age in the 1980s, it's hard to imagine our teen years without the work of John Hughes. Although he was closer to our parents' ages than ours, he completely "got" what it was like to be a teen in the 80s. Brains, athletes, basket cases, princesses, criminals...somehow he understood us all. And he gave us credit for being more complicated than most adults did.
Were his movies always realistic? Would Jake Ryan really have showed up in his Porsche to whisk Samantha Baker off for a romantic birthday cake? Maybe not. But these movies were hilarious without being condescending, sensitive without being sappy, and hopeful without being schlocky. That's no mean feat, especially when your target audience consists of hard-to-impress adolescents.
For people my age--and those who came up behind us--John Hughes movies became part of the fabric of our lives. I think I've probably quoted his movies at least once a day for the past 25 years. His words are just part of our vocabulary. "Bueller? Bueller?" "What's happenin', hot stuff?" "Screws fall out all the time. The world's an imperfect place." I could go on and on.
Hughes movies also had great soundtracks. As a teen in a midwestern small town/suburb of a city that wasn't exactly a cultural center, these movies introduced me to bands like The Smiths, New Order, Jesus and Mary Chain, and the Psychedelic Furs--bands that got zero airplay where I was.
Farewell, John Hughes, and thank you. Those of us who continue to cherish your movies would do well to remember the wise words of the great Ferris Bueller: "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it."