For many, John Hughes is their childhood. Be it by capturing their own experiences of teenage years in America or just by being the movies people grew up watching. However, as a British viewer, Hughes movies and his take on high school just makes the American school system seem, at worst scary and at best, just plain bizarre.
Sixteen Candles is a perfect example of exactly that. It is a film of many different characters and many random scenes. In the first instance it is very funny and has a lot of appeal. You can see the writing that made Hughes such a success and with actors such as Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall delivering the lines, it adds charm to the film.
It is a also a standard “high school girl in every kids worst nightmare” scenario, from being a victim of a forgotten birthday, to accidentally confessing your feelings to your crush through to the most embarrassing Grandparents ever. There is plenty of very funny moments and even more, they seem to capture the 80s style of making this type of “John Hughes” film much better than the imitators try to nowadays.
Not all the jokes strike though. A misplaced foreign exchange student starts to show how random this film really is. It slowly builds to what is supposed to be the worst “sweet sixteen” even for Ringwald’s Samantha but as this escalates, so does the bizarre nature of the film itself. The final third feels like random, forcibly funny events being thrown together and although it still holds some charm, most of it doesn’t strike correctly.
Then there is the classic Hughes “love connection” as the average girl gets the most popular boy in school. This doesn’t seem to make much sense either and is again a very forced aspect of the film, showing some weakness in what everyone heralds as a classic writer of the 80s.
Overall, Sixteen Candles is a classic John Hughes movie and has all the key ingredients of one of his films. Ringwald plays an effective “every-girl” while plenty of comedy chaos ensues. Unfortunately it also suffers from a bizarre third act and a clear lack of any proper ending.
Rating – 3.5
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)