Throughout the ’80s John Hughes defined the teen movie genre and spoke not only to that generation’s teens, but every generation that has followed. Then in 1991 he hung up his director’s hat and disappeared into obscurity ala J.D Salinger.
Up until his death last year his only connection to Hollywood was a handful of unproduced scripts often credited to Edmund Dantes (one of which was developed into the comedy Drillbit Taylor). In 2008, a group of young Canadian filmmakers set out to complete a documentary about the man with what they hoped would be an interview, which would’ve been his first since 1999.
This film is split into two parts, one which works quite well and the second which is really just kind of annoying.
In making this documentary about Hughes, the filmmakers managed to get interviews with Brat Pack alumni Ally Sheedy, Judd Nelson, Kelly LeBrock, Mia Sara, Alan Ruck and others. Kevin Smith, Jason Reitman and Roger Ebert also contribute soundbites. These are fantastic, offering an insight into the man and his work.
The former cast all talk highly about their time with Hughes and how much of an effect he had on their lives and their careers. Smith and Reitman talk about how much of an influence he was and Ebert provides a critical examination of his films. Nelson reveals that it had been years since he spoke with Hughes and how much he misses him.
However, the other part of the documentary leaves something to be desired. The filmmakers decided to document their road trip from Vancouver to Illinois. Throughout they discuss the influence Hughes has had on their lives and their plan of attack on how to convince the infamous recluse to provide them with their desired interview. Listening to these young filmmakers banter and bicker adds nothing to the film and makes them an annoying distraction from an otherwise great documentary.
With some great interviews and classic clips from Hughes’ comedies, this film is a great trip down memory lane for any fan of his. However, the personal touch the filmmakers add prevents this from being elevated to the level of truly great.
The film is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen and 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround sound. The interviews are well shot and look fantastic, but the road trip footage looks like a bunch of rank amateurs. Most of the archive films clips look great, though some of them seem stretched and distorted which is really distracting. Overall the look and sound of the film is really hit or miss.
While at times very good, Don’t You Forget About Me is ultimately a little frustrating because John Hughes is a director worthy of a great career retrospective and this documentary isn’t quite it. It’s worth watching once for the great interviews, but I don’t see anyone wanting to watch this a second time. I applaud the filmmakers’ passion for their subject, but perhaps they got too emotionally involved in the project.
Phase 4 Films presents Don’t You Forget About Me. Directed by Matt Austin Sadowsky. Starring: Ally Sheedy, Judd Nelson, Kevin Smith and Roger Ebert. Running time: 73 minutes. Rated R for language. Released on DVD: July 13, 2010.
Mike Noyes received his Masters Degree in Film from the Academy of Art University, San Francisco. A few of his short films can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/user/mikebnoyes. He recently published his first novel which you can buy here: https://www.amazon.com/Seven-Days-Years-Mike-Noyes-ebook/dp/B07D48NT6B/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1528774538&sr=8-1&keywords=seven+days+seven+years
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