We will always heart John Hughes

MollyJohnMichael We will always heart John HughesWe were deeply saddened to hear of the passing of John Hughes today. As teenagers of the 80’s, the images, words and characters of John Hughes are ingrained in our minds. We’ve watched (and re-watched and re-watched) Sixteen Candles%name We will always heart John Hughes anytime we needed a pick me up and we are physically unable to change the channel whenever Pretty in Pink%name We will always heart John Hughes, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off%name We will always heart John Hughes or The Breakfast Club%name We will always heart John Hughes is on television. Twenty-five years later, these movies can still make us laugh and fill us with a happy melancholy for our teenage years. He brought a voice to teens in the 80’s, long before corporations discovered how much money was in it for them (the teen industry explosion in movies, music and tv was still years away) and kick started the careers of actors like Jennifer Grey, James Spader and Matthew Broderick.

It amazes me to think of how many quotes penned by Mr. Hughes are a part of my daily vocabulary. And we’re not just talking the big iconic phrases. Sure “No more yankee my wankee – the donga needs food.” still makes me laugh, but it’s some of the subtler moments that my equally obsessed friends and I throw around. For instance, whenever someone asks if you can remember to do something, we put on our best sarcastic Samantha voice and reply “I can remember lots of things.” Has someone spilled a drink or dropped something? Make sure to sneer “Smooth move, Cliff” as you walk away (to get towels – not leave them all alone at a party menaced by jocks!) If a friend is getting too excited over a video game or something nerdy, aim your imaginary space gun at him or her, make futuristic gun noises and say, “Score, a direct hit.” The list goes on and on…

break460 300x180 We will always heart John HughesThe greatness of a Hughes movie lied not only in the fantastic writing and well-chosen cast, it was also there in the music layered behind every scene. The soundtrack of a Hughes film accentuated the story and introduced a plethora of cult bands into the mainstream (The Smiths, OMD, The Psychedelic Furs, Kate Bush and many more). The soundtracks to Pretty In Pink%name We will always heart John Hughes and The Breakfast Club%name We will always heart John Hughes could be found in the boom box (ha!) of every clique in my high school. And yes, this new waver was, at the time, annoyed to hear the cheerleaders singing to Echo & the Bunnymen, (Hey! these are my bands!) but I’ve matured since then. And perhaps coolest of all? Stef’s husband Derwood even has a song on the classic Planes, Trains and Automobiles%name We will always heart John Hughes soundtrack.

While I’ve grown up, the silly sweetness and angst of these movies is always there. John Hughes understood Emo before the term was coined. As he told Premiere Magazine (via Entertainment Weekly) in 1999, “…the one really key element of teendom…is that it feels as good to feel bad as it does to feel good. At that age, I remember, many times, staring out the window and feeling sorry for myself. ‘The whole world is against me. Nobody understands me.’ It’s a lot of fun. One of the great wonders of that age is that your emotions are open and fresh and raw. That’s why I stuck around that genre for so long.”

So, now, whenever I want to feel some of that bittersweet (in hindsight) teen-age anguish and revel in the joy of high school dances and Friday night keggers being the center of my universe, I have the films of John Hughes to keep me company.

(Click here for a 16 Candles montage backed by “If You Were Here.”)

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Written by Tyna Werner


  1. Profile photo of Stef Andrews
    Stef Andrews

    Would you just look at Jake Ryan in that top pic? Oh my!

    This was very sad news to hear. I don’t think there’s a director who has played a bigger part in my life. We LIVED for John Hughes movies growing up. And Tyna’s so right, the soundtrack was as big as the actual movie, probably even bigger for us.

    T-you forgot our all time favorite Sixteen Candles quote. As Jake Ryan is talking about how cool it is that Samantha is always starring at him, his friend ask “Maybe she’s retarded?”

    My favorite film as got to be that, Sixteen Candles is movie perfection. A 2 way tie for the second spot goes to Weird Science and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

    So give it up people, what are your favorite Hughes movies or moments?

  2. Profile photo of nouveaucheap

    As Ana Marie Cox said today on Twitter: If it weren’t for John Hughes’s direction of Molly Ringwald, there would be no me.

    Tyna, this is a beautiful write-up and I obviously can relate to every single word you wrote. I too, have never stopped staying the lesser-known John Hughes movie quotes and the one I use most often, whenever I need to drive somewhere and the person I’m with isn’t quite ready to leave: “Gimme da keys! Gimme da keys!” And if someone even so much as hints at saying the phrase “on the telephone” I have to hit back with “What’s this boy talkin’ about, on the telephone?” :)

    John Hughes movies shaped my youth and I will forever be grateful that they helped me understand that I wasn’t so weird–I was absolutely normal. I can think of no other filmmaker of my time that has made films that have resounded so profoundly with me. I can only hope that he understood how deeply his films spoke to us. (Something tells me that he did.)

    Those two words, “Jake Ryan”, still make my heart skip a beat. After all these years, those words still evoke the feeling of being a sophomore in high school, pining away after the beautiful senior who would never even know my name.

    Rest in peace, John Hughes.

  3. Profile photo of Cori

    My fave movie is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I would watch that movie religiously when I was a kid. Then when I was in college my psychology teacher had an assignment that involved us watching Breakfast Club. Needless to say that teacher became my favorite, and the movie instantly got a place on my top 10 movie list.

  4. Profile photo of tiffany

    At one time I actually had all the lines to Sixteen Candles memorized. Can’t really tell you how many times I’ve seen it…more than I should admit. I even have it on my mp3 player right now. LOVE that movie! Very sad he is no longer with us. His movies were a HUGE part of my teenage years.

    Jake Ryan was my imaginary boyfriend. I so wanted a boyfriend like him. My favorite line was grandma saying, “Oh Sam, let me take a look at you. Fred, she’s gotten her boobies.” Then grandpa Fred says, “I better get my magnifying glass”. Oh I could keep going on, but instead I think I’ll watch it again in remembrance.

  5. Profile photo of corinneburns

    Aww, RIP John Hughes. You made some of my favorite movies of all time. I wanted to add in some love for the (imo, under-appreciated) Some Kind of Wonderful. My second favorite (after 16 Candles, naturally) of all Hughes films. As far as music goes, the Pretty in Pink soundtrack was great – and the TBC launched SImple Minds into a huge band in the US, right?

  6. Profile photo of Stef Andrews
    Stef Andrews

    I’ve got to give some love for a much underrated Hughes movie- Mr Mom. I think we got HBO just at the time that this movie played at least once a day! This movie is actually very sweet, and honestly, I only just learned it was John Hughes.

    It’s kind of cool too how much he loved Anthony Michael Hall and Molly Ringwald. Where they each in 3 of his films? AMH: Sixteen candles, Weird Science, Breakfast club. Molly: Sixteen candles, Pretty in Pink, Breakfast club. Am I missing any?

  7. Michele Bridgeman

    I couldn’t believe my eyes this morning when I read that John Hughes had passed. I was going to do an RIP John Hughes comment on my facebook status but figured the 20-somethings that I worked with would have absolutely NOOOOO idea what I was talking about.

    Because I grew up in the 80s and had the neon clothes and jelly shoes and bracelets, I could identify with the hair and fashions. I listened to the same music, so the soundtracks are like a little time capsule for me. There was just so much to relate to in his teen angst movies AND his comedies were a hoot. I could quote Ferris Bueller for DAYS. “Jeannie, Jeannie…is that you???? I can’t see you. You still have your sight, be thankful.” “If you say Ferris Bueller you lose a testicle…” “He makes you look like an ass is what he does…” “So THAT’S how it is in their family.” And Uncle Buck…”What’s your record for consecutive questions?” Planes, Trains and Automobiles…”I knew I knew you…” “We were robbed…” “Do you think so?” The Breakfast Club…”The world is an imperfect place…screws fall out all of the time.” Sixteen Candles…”Oh sexy girlfriennnnnn.” The list goes on and on and on.

    And I can honestly say that I have almost all of John Hughes’ movies in my DVD collection and watch them religiously and still laugh at them like an idiot. And our Thanksgiving routine is watching Planes, Trains and Automobiles and I well up like a blubbering fool when Neal Page finally gets home. I also wish that my Thanksgiving turkey looked so good!!!!

    It saddens me to know that these movies are now on American Movie Classics (AMC) – and that is a glaring reminder that we’re all getting older and the people that we looked up to and worshiped as children are also getting older and our own mortality is smacking us in the face. Sad indeed.

    Somewhere in heaven John Hughes and John Candy are having a good laugh and a cigar. I also picture John Candy in the Devil’s costume from Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Is that wrong?

  8. Michele Bridgeman

    I was just re-reading my Charm School recaps and realized that I made TWO John Hughes movie references in my second recap – Samantha getting felt up from Sixteen Candles AND Del Griffith “I knew I knew you…” from Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

    I think I’m going to go and have a sausage sandwich (from Abe Froeman, the Sausage King of Chicago), drink water and breadstics in a snooty French restaurant, taunt the maitre de and go to a baseball game and reminisce about all of the John Hughes movies that I’ve watched and the bittersweet comedy therein.

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