Sixteen Candles (1984)

Glad I actually celebrated my Sweet Sixteen the right way. Hooters baby!

It’s Samantha Baker (Molly Ringwald)’s Sweet Sixteen and no one in her family remembers the occasion. What’s even worse is that she can get away from this creepy freshman (Anthony Michael Hall), and can’t have the boy she wants, the dreamy hot-stuff known as Jake Ryan (Michael Schoeffling). Everything she feels totally resonates with me, because I would always remember the days of when jocks would tease me with their hot bods, and the dorks would never get the hint that I didn’t want anything to do with them. Oh, high-school. How I miss you so!

Well, now that I’am officially a high-school graduate (have no idea how in the hell that happened) I can easily say that I do miss a little bit of it. Not all of it, but a bit of it. That’s why watching one of these flicks really hits me harder than I imagined because being all done with my high-school days, I can now look-back, reminisce, and realize that the 21st Century that I grew up in, isn’t that much different from the 80’s. Don’t know if it’s good or bad, but it’s just a matter of what hit me first. Nope, it’s definitely bad.

So, in case you didn’t know, this is the directorial debut of John Hughes who is one amazing writer that defined the 80’s. This was one of his most prime-examples for many reasons, but the main which being because the dude was able to get inside the mind of the youth going through teenage angst and show it in a funny, but very truthful way. Everything you see here, you remember from high school, whether it’d be a loving or angry memory. Everything from the nerds, to the high-school crush you never had a chance (I don’t know what that feels like because I get all of my babes), to the lame-o school dances, to the crazy after-parties, to the cheerleaders you never had a chance with, to the clubs that nobody cared about but were somehow there, and just all of the other signature things in-between that make high-school, well: high-school. Gets me a tad nostalgic now that I think about it, but I’m still holding back the tears.

Where was Jake Ryan on my Sweet 16?
Where was Jake Ryan on my Sweet 16?

Whenever you watch a film from the 80’s, you see all that happens and you listen to the dialogue, and what they thought was so hip and cool then, has sort of played-out now and been deemed, “lame”. However, Hughes’ writing has somehow been able to over-achieve that problem, and still have his writing be considered funny and actually, iconic in it’s own way of capturing what it was like to be a teen in the 80’s, but what it was like to be a teenager, angst-fueled and all. The guy knows how to write snappy, but humorous dialogue that doesn’t go over too many people’s heads, but can also still get to the bottom of the barrel and shows just what a freakin’ hassle it can be to be a teenager, and worst of all, having nobody remember your 16th birthday. Never happened to me, but shit, I would have been pissed-off to the high heavens had it happened.

Of course, though, this is Hughes’ first movie he’s ever directed, and to be honest; you can sort of tell. As I’ve mentioned before, the script is great and it has it’s fair-share of wonderful lines that make you belly-roll, but it does lose focus on Samantha Baker and begin to focus way, way too much on the side-characters that bring-out most of the humor in this story. Don’t get me wrong, I liked all of the side-stuff that Hughes had to throw in here for comedic-effect so we wouldn’t have what seemed like a Lifetime-movie on our hands, but when it seemed like it had to deliver that emotional and romantic-note at the end, it just came off as very weak and didn’t do much for me. The ending is probably not suited best for a 19-year-old, d-bag like myself, but still, for who it is for, it works and actually still has them ladies swooning until these very days.

No matter what any member of this cast has done in recent-time (and that’s not saying much), they will forever and always be remembered for being members of the illustrious “Brat Pack”, and this film is one of the main reasons why they were apart of it. I don’t know if the performances had to do anything with it, but they aren’t that shabby, either. Molly Ringwald feels like an actual 16-year-old gal going through the usual-problems that it seems like most teenaged-girls go through: school, boys, mom, dad, brother, sister, menstrual cycles, dances, money, etc. However, she isn’t always pissing around the whole movie about how nobody remembers her birthday, because when she does decide to cheer-up and look at the bright-side, the girl’s got a lot of charm to her that makes me wonder why she didn’t do more when her teenier-bopper days were long-gone. I could understand why, because people wouldn’t be able to get past the fact that she’s still that girl from all of the John Hughes movies, but still: the girl has obvious-talent on-display here and it’s sad that she didn’t continue. Oh well, it was probably her idea anyway. Either way, poor gal.

Eat your heart out, Jake.
Eat your heart out, Jake.

Everybody knows and loves Anthony Michael Hall, not only because he seems like he’s the only one out of this main-cast to keep himself alive and well in the hearts of moviegoers, but because his character, Geek, is such a fun character to watch and Hall brings a lot to the character. Yes, his name is actually “Geek”, but don’t feel bad for him because he’s probably the best character in the whole movie and also the most-endearing as well. I highly doubt anybody would have ever thought that out of everybody here, he would be one of the more-successful ones to keep himself active, but hey, good for him. At least somebody’s keeping themselves a bit busy with life.

Can’t say the same thing about Michael Schoeffling, who plays the hunk amongst all hunks, Jake Ryan. Schoeffling is fine in this role but he isn’t given much to do other than look cool, suave, and sexy, so that Samantha, and all of the girls at home can just stare-at his beautiful-face all day and night. I guess it ain’t so bad when you think about it, but it didn’t do much for him in the future, since the guy’s last credit to-date was something called Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken. Oh dear, doesn’t sound all that hopeful to me. Also, why the hell would Gedde Watanabe speak out against his role as the iconic Asian, Long Duk Dong?!? I mean I can understand that the film shows a very racist and politically-incorrect look at Asians but still! ………Okay, now that I’ve actually thought about it, maybe he was right. Hey, it may have been the most stereo-typically racist thing you’ve ever seen on-screen but don’t try and tell me that you found it hard not saying, “What’s happening hot stuff?”, after you came back from watching this.

Consensus: May not be as good, as memorable, or as important as some of John Hughes’ other pieces of work, but Sixteen Candles is still a funny, smart, and honest-look into the life of teenager going through angst that may have you look back on your high-school years with a smile, and maybe even a chuckle. I know it did for me.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Oh, who's he kidding!?!? Sign him up for the sequel!
Oh, who’s he kidding!?!? Sign him up for the sequel!


  1. Long Duk Dong ruled!!!! Oh man, he is my favorite character in that film. I know his character is politically-incorrect but dammit,he’s fucking hilarious. “Yoo-hoo, sexy girlfriend!”

  2. Glad to see you enjoyed this one. Its got a nostalgia spot in my heart cause I was there in the 80s for all of this, including its release.

    LOL @ you bemoaning missing high school. Give it 20 years or so Dan. 😀 Then you’ll really see! LOL

  3. You get all the babes huh? Is there a Mrs. Dan The Man? Or do you just play the field? Haha. This is actually one that I re-watched recently so I feel like I can speak intelligently about it. I would agree that you can definitely tell this is the first directorial effort for Hughes. The dialogue really captures the spirit and intelligence of the teen mind without dumbing things down too much. There were places however where I felt the dialogue was very dated, mostly in the use of the word “fag” which has taken on a very offensive connotation. It’s not one that people really use anymore. Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall are very entertaining. And oh man is Long Duk Dong racist, but funny in that meta (I can’t believe how racist this is) way. I think as a character Jake has a chance to show us there’s more to him than his looks and athletic ability. Here’s a guy who’s rich and has the hottest girl in school, who would rather be in a serious relationship with a girl who really cares about him. No wonder the ladies were all swooning.

  4. I find that the older I get the more I appreciate John Hughes and that certainly holds true for Sixteen Candles, it is weird one would assume it to be the opposite. Needless to say I now look forward to anything with Hughes name attached. I highly recommend revisiting National Lampoon’s Vacation if you get a chance the combination of Hughes and Ramis is a gift from the cinema gods.

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