Making Movie History: High School Reunion – 80's Style

First there was the Rat Pack back in the day and they sang their songs and broke some hearts. Fast forward to the eighties and we ended up with the Brat Pack that didn’t sing songs and break hearts, but they sure as hell made us laugh and touched on subjects we all knew about. Whether it was a Saturday in detention, dealing with turning sweet sixteen, making a beautiful woman while wearing a bra on your head, or looking forward to your battle on the playground after school is over…we all had to deal with them. Bet yall weren’t thinking that fourth one would pop up huh?

The eighties brought us many films that could be classified as high school oriented, but there are four in general that stand out to me. Yes, many people are going to write me and ask me things like, “What about Goonies?” or maybe “You do realize that Can’t Buy Me Love was full of nothing but teenagers right?” Yes, I do realize that and sure Goonies had nothing but kids and teenagers in it, but the four films included in this column are there for a reason. As a matter of fact, that reason isn’t even due to something done by me, myself, and I. Nope, it is due to those that released the DVDs of all four movies and decided to plaster a label at the top of each DVD cover art stating “High School Reunion Collection.”

In reality there are eight films in the “High School Reunion Collection,” and this first column is going to touch on four of them. The others will come in another column sometime in the futures, but I don’t know when. There was a little more that went into my decision to include these four particular films and clump them together rather then the others and it’s just because they seem to just mesh with one another. The four films not included here are American Graffiti, Dazed And Confused, Fast Times At Ridgemont High, and Mallrats. Fast Times and American Graffiti just come from an older time and are kind of on the same page as Dazed And Confused even though it was released in 1993. Mallrats is the one that seems like it doesn’t really belong at all, but maybe that’s just me.

None the less, I present to you the true “High School Reunion Collection” that matches my criteria of having a lot of the same faces appearing throughout them all (even though they’re not connected in any other way). And one extra film that just screams “high school,” and is often neglected by so many people.

Sixteen Candles

Turning sweet sixteen is something that is still looked at today as being a big deal, especially by those of the female variety. It’s that tender age when you’re halfway through your teens and well on your way to your twenties. Not to mention that it also kind of makes you appear a bit more adult and all sorts of grown-up. You all know the story by now though that Molly Ringwald turned sixteen and her entire family totally forgot about her birthday. From that point on, things get really messed up for her making it quite possibly the most fucked up birthday in the history of the world. She goes to a dance and a party, hands her panties over to a geek, gets embarrassed in front of her giant crush, and has her live-in exchange student experience the ride of his life.

Sixteen Candles is one of those films that has an overly simple story and your focus should be more so on the comedy then anything else. The plot actually takes a backseat to all the hilarious shit going on and that’s a good thing because how much would you really care if all the attention was given to a girl’s family forgetting her birthday? I’m willing to bet that you wouldn’t give a rat’s ass about it quite frankly. Molly Ringwald even appears to be put on the back burner thanks to the true stars of the movie in Anthony Michael Hall (The Geek) and Gedde Watanabe (Long Duk Dong). Hall hadn’t done much of note up to this point except for National Lampoon’s Vacation, but he shines in all his comedic glory here along with a small appearance from another relative unknown at the time in John Cusack who got little screen time, but made the most of it. Watanabe would move on to comedic bit parts in movies for his career, but this may be his most memorable role and for good reason.

You can’t help but laugh while watching this movie and you’re going to end up loving it no matter what. Or then again, maybe you won’t but then you’re just weird. Pretty much everyone I know not only loves the movie and laughs at it constantly, but can recite it verbatim whenever need be. Here is a handful of the memorable lines you’re sure to come away with after watching:

“Ohhh seeexxxyyy girlfffrriiieennndd!”
“I can’t believe my grandmother actually felt me up.”
“No more yankie my wankie. The Donger needs food!”
“Score! A direct hit.”

Weird Science

One of the better movies from the eighties period and never gets nearly as much recognition as say The Goonies, Ghostbusters, and other randoms. Two geeks want to be popular so they get this crazy idea that doing some stuff on a computer and hooking up electrodes to a Barbie doll will bring them a real woman. Little did Gary and Wyatt realize that it would actually work and now they have Lisa who is ready to not only blow their minds but make things finally start going right for them.

I sincerely love Weird Science and consider it to be a true classic that many people overlook thanks to a good number of the other teenage films in this collection alone. The blue kitchen, the awesome party, the missile in the house, the cool cars, Chet being an asshole, the biker gang coming into the house and trashing it, the dude from The Hills Have Eyes, bras on people’s head, and last but not least…Robert Downey Jr. with big hair and being awesome at even a young age. There’s a lot more to love about this movie, but my God it is just awesome from the very beginning and there isn’t a single moment of it that I would change.

How can you not like someone changing the way they treat their sibling just because they were turned into a giant pile of shit? Some quotes to remember from Weird Science:

“Why don’t you shut up bitch?”
“You’re stewed, buttwad.”
“If you’re gonna fart, squeeze cheese, let me know ok? I’ll hit the fan!”
“Gimme de keys…GIMME DE KEYS!”
“Mom…I NEVER toss off to anything!”

The Breakfast Club

There is almost no way in hell that you haven’t seen this movie if you were born sometime before 1997. Sure it may have come out twenty-four years ago, but the message and footage it shows still is relevant for anyone in school today. Five kids that are completely opposites of each other end up in Saturday detention and realize that they may not be as different from one another as they all think they are. We have the athlete, the basket case, the princess, the criminal, and the brain all in one place…all strangers…yet end up becoming friends and not at all in a corny way. They do it with humor, drama, anger, romance, and every other possible emotion and genre that you can throw together here. It’s perfect.

In The Breakfast Club we get a lunch scene, a dance scene, a make-out scene, drug usage, and Ally Sheedy being a complete and total retard with dandruff for the whole first half of the movie. The scene where she shakes her dandruff onto her picture to get snow is just classic. Judd Nelson’s speech on how life is in the Bender household is phenomenal. When Emilio Estevez gives the speech about his dad wanting him only to “win, win, win;” there is so much energy and feeling in it that you just couldn’t help but feel bad for him like he was your own friend. Same goes for Molly Ringwald when she starts screaming about being a princess and dealing with her rich family. As for Anthony Michael Hall, he’s just great throughout the entire movie with his little quirks and comments.

Believe it or not, there is a great story being told in this movie even through all the humor and what not. You are going to be force-fed life lessons while all the while cracking up and wondering what will happen next. It’s just brilliant and I could watch it on repeat for 24 straight hours. Ya know, they really need to play The Breakfast Club for 24 straight hours in the middle of August before most schools start. Kind of like when Christmas Eve comes around and A Christmas Story is on for a full day? Same difference. Now time for our quotes:

“I’m thinkin’a trying out for a schol-ar-ship!”
“I’m a fucking idiot because I can’t make a lamp?”
“If he gets up, we’ll all get up. It’ll be anarchy!”
“Don’t mess with the bull, you’ll get the horns.”
“When I was a kid, I wanted to be John Lennon.”
“I taped Larry Lester’s buns together.”

Three O’Clock High

Now I’m willing to bet that not many of you saw this one coming at all. I have not come across many people in my life that have ever seen Three O’Clock High or even heard of it so it’s kind of difficult to ever discuss it with anyone. Casey Seimaszko stars as Jerry, a young kid in high school that is rather nerdy and in charge of the school store. His life is pretty simple and not so complex until he happens to stumble across the new kid in school, Buddy Revell. Jerry is assigned to write a newspaper article on Revell who has a reputation as a bad ass that doesn’t like to be touched. Jerry of course makes the mistake of touching Buddy which brings the nutcase to order Jerry to fight him outside of school at three o’clock. Jerry now spends the rest of the day watching the clock and doing whatever he can to get out of the fight.

This is a pretty bad ass movie that combines a good bit of humor with high school life and also an intense amount of thrilling drama. Revell is the typical bad ass high school kid that you would probably get in the face of for acting like a big shot and go, “Ooooo SO scary!” and then laugh at him. The thing about Revell is that he actually ends up being that damn frightening and does not give a flying shit about anyone or anything except kicking the hell out of Jerry. As time rolls on, I’ll admit that I started to feel bad for Jerry and wondered if there was anything else he could do in six hours to get out of this fight. Guess that stems from always being the tiny kid in high school who had a big mouth and had to stand behind his bigger friends while spouting off. Eh…oh well.

Three O’Clock High should be seen by everyone because I think it falls far out of the underrated category and dove face first into the “unheard of” department. It’s a shame too because it tells an excellent story that is simple and takes place ninety-five percent of the time in one central location. Time to let you know the things you’ll love to hear:

“Don’t fuck this up Mitchell!”
“Pain is temporary, film is forever.”
“You know what Mitchell? You’re the biggest pussy I’ve ever seen in my life. Didn’t even try. How does that feel?”
“You and me, we’re gonna have a fight. Today…after school. Three o’clock…in the parking lot. You try and run, I’m gonna track you down. You go to a teacher, it’s only gonna get worse. You sneak home, I’m gonna be under your bed.”

All four of these movies are extraordinarily excellent for coming from the eighties and starring a bunch of relatively no-name kids that had really nothing to show for themselves. These films launched the careers of virtually everyone involved even if they didn’t all go on to the same success as one another. It is blatantly obvious that people like Sheedy, Hall, and Estevez went on to much greater heights then Nelson, Seimaszko, and even Ringwald. I still can’t help but love all of the actors and think they may not have all gone on to be famous, but they sure as hell entertained me way back when and still do today.

You know that because of Three O’Clock High, I can’t help but notice every single time I see Casey Seimaszko’s name in the credits of something. Oh yeah, he was in Young Guns, Back To The Future, an episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent and much more. Bet you never realized that or probably didn’t care because you never saw one of his earliest works and undoubtedly one of his best.

High school in the eighties isn’t something I personally experience, but I live it vicariously through all those in the Brat Pack and then some.

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