It’s the late 1980s. The Golden Age of Hollywood is coming to an end and things just aren’t the same as they used to be (thanks a lot, Michael Douglas). Because of this, the studios are looking for ways to recapture their former glory days, and what better way than through a “new” generation of talent? You know, that new generation that just happens to be young enough that they can have tons of sex without being seen as perverts…but old enough to know how to act in front of a camera. Enter: The Brat Pack!
What Are Brat Pack Movies?
The term “Brat Pack” was coined by the press in 1985 when a group of young actors including Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, and Molly Ringwald made their debuts in the John Hughes directed movie The Breakfast Club.
This new generation of actors was considered to be the new crop of stars for Hollywood to cash in on and several movies were put into production with these actors in mind. Brat Pack movies were a mix between John Hughes’s romantic comedies like Sixteen Candles and Pretty In Pink and more traditional teen dramas like St. Elmo’s Fire. You get a lot of angst, a lot of romance but also some laughs. And if you weren’t laughing, you were crying because Brat Pack movies could be just as painful as they were funny. The Brat Pack may have been talented but they always seemed more like normal people rather than Hollywood superstars. They were relatable and they were real.
Now, before you start thinking that the Brat Pack was just a group of actors that found each other and decided to make some movies together, you might want to think again. John Hughes was a huge driving force behind the Brat Pack. He was a writer/director who had been around Hollywood for years but was previously best known for writing The Breakfast Club and writing/producing Sixteen Candles. He was already a successful filmmaker when he teamed up with several “non-Brat Pack” actors like Molly Ringwald, Matt Dillon, and Ally Sheedy. But then he started working with these guys (and ladies) and made Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Pretty In Pink, Some Kind Of Wonderful (with Mary Stuart Masterson), and The Breakfast Club (with Anthony Michael Hall). All of these movies are considered classics today but they also all starred members of our favorite group of actors. Next thing you know we have a whole bunch of teen stars in classic films!
Of course, not all Brat Pack Movies are created equally so we will be dividing them into two categories: The Original Brat Pack Movies (from 1984-1989) and The Post-Brat Pack Movies (from 1990-1998).
Let’s take a look at the Brat Pack movies in their chronological order of release!
The Original Brat Pack Movies (1984-1989)
This was the decade where Hollywood started to see the potential in this new generation of actors. All it took was one smash hit movie and suddenly every studio wanted to get in on the action. This first wave of Brat Pack movies was made between 1984 and 1989. Some were good, some were bad but they all had that same feel. These are what get most people excited when they hear the term “Brat Pack” so let’s take a look at them in order of release:
The Breakfast Club (1985)
John Hughes had already made several great films by 1985 but The Breakfast Club is where things kicked into high gear…and that is mostly thanks to his decision to cast these five actors in his movie. Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, Anthony Michael Hall, and Molly Ringwald all got their big breaks with this movie which would later go on to be considered one of the greatest teen movies of all time.
If you haven’t seen this movie yet, I would highly recommend it. It’s not one of those movies that you can just watch once and walk away from. You need to watch it multiple times to fully appreciate how great it is. Each time you see it, you will notice something new or hear a line that you didn’t pick up on before. This movie is very quotable and has certainly become a part of our culture over the years:
It was a massive hit at the box office (even if its $15 million opening weekend wasn’t as big as they had originally expected) and earned 4 Academy Award nominations including Best Picture but only won one (Best Original Screenplay).
Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987)
Steve Martin and John Candy were at the top of their game in 1987 and their chemistry together in this movie are undeniable. A lot of the credit for that goes to director John Hughes who knew how to put together a great ensemble cast. With so many amazing Brat Pack movies coming out that same year, this one (which is not technically a Brat Pack movie but they are all in it) gets overlooked sometimes but it is still a great comedy.
It was another big hit at the box office earning $36 million on its opening weekend and went on to make $90 million total domestically. It got nominated for Best Picture at the Golden Globes but did not win. It also got a Best Original Screenplay nomination at the Oscars but did not win that either.
Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)
This movie made some people take notice of Lea Thompson and put her in high demand after she appeared in 3 movies in 1987 alone! She had already appeared on several TV shows like Back to the Future, Family Ties, and Night Court so she was no stranger to Hollywood but this movie was probably her first big break into movies.
The movie didn’t do too well at the box office earning only $12 million (which is still good for a teen comedy but not great). It also got slammed by critics because of the character of Keith played by Eric Stoltz. It was later discovered that he had been fired from the movie and replaced by a body double. The body double’s scenes were badly edited in and Stoltz was completely absent from the movie’s soundtrack which led to several people thinking that he had dropped out of the project entirely.