The Breakfast Club ★★★★½

I went to an all-boys catholic high school, so most teen movies seem to me like science fiction. Fast Times at Ridgemont High? Like aliens on a distant planet. Clueless? An anthropological study of a distant unknowable society. American Pie, Dazed and Confused, Say Anything: might as well be elves, wizards, and dragons.

But The Breakfast Club pulls off the near-miraculous trick of remaining relevant and meaningful to me even as a grown-ass adult, and indeed, to generations and generations of kids to whom 1985 is ancient history. John Hughes may have expertly engineered his ensemble cast to fit a few broad teen archetypes, but the sum is greater than the parts.

Subtracting half a point for a rushed and oversimplified ending that has never really rung true for me, especially after the movingly shaded character explorations that came before. After the kids come to a difficult, hard-fought mutual understanding, it feels like a betrayal for four of them to suddenly pair off romantically, while the fifth is saddled with all the homework.