October 1, 2023

The Brat Pack and its Lasting Impact

The ‘80s brought us what might have been the most iconic era of movies to date, with The Breakfast ClubSt. Elmo’s FireSixteen Candles, and The Outsiders as part of the lineup. What do these movies have in common? The Brat Pack.

The actual members of the Brat Pack are debatable, but there are some non-negotiables, like Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Judd Nelson, Andrew McCarthy, Ally Sheedy, Demi Moore, and Anthony Michael Hall. Other young actors of the time who were given the stamp of approval from the indisputable king of ‘80s cinema (also known as John Hughes) or starred in movies with members of the Brat Pack also deserve honorable mentions, like Matthew Broderick, Robert Downey Jr., and Tom Cruise.

What made this group so significant was not only their chemistry but their accurate and raw enactment of the teens they played. The Brat Pack brought an honest portrayal of teenage angst to the big screen in a serious light for the first time, opening the door to a whole new world of movies. 

One of the Brat Pack’s most powerful movies was The Breakfast Club. It’s set in Shermer High School on a Saturday, where 5 teens are stuck in detention. Each is a classic stereotype–Claire (Molly Ringwald) is the “princess,” John (Judd Nelson) is the “criminal,” Andrew (Emilio Estevez) is the “athlete,” Brian (Anthony Michael Hall) is the “brain” and Allison (Ally Sheedy) is the “basket case.” Unable to escape, they’re forced to interact. What begins as small looks and snarky comments ends with the group realizing they have much more in common than they thought, and each of them overcoming their cliche stereotype. This is a prime example of the candid voice that the Brat Pack gave to the teens of their generation.

Another quintessential Brat Pack movie is Pretty in Pink. This coming-of-age film features Molly Ringwald as Andie, Andrew McCarthy as Blane, and Jon Cryer as Duckie.

Andie is a pariah at her high school and only spends time with her best friend Duckie (who has a crush on her) and her boss. Blane, from a different clique, asks her out, which proves to be very difficult, as they come from two completely separate worlds. The message of this story is staying true to yourself, a challenge every teen has faced at one point or another. Molly Ringwald sincerely portrays the often-overlooked obstacles that teenagers face, which had rarely been done before.

Since the Brat Pack’s prime, there have been multiple knockoff versions. An article by The Loop compared Gigi Hadid to Demi Moore because both were viewed as ‘party girls,’ Moore in St. Elmo’s Fire and Hadid in real life. It compared Ansel Elgort, who played Augustus Waters in the movie rendition of John Green’s novel The Fault in Our Stars, to Emilio Estevez, because Estevez was engaged to Demi Moore and Elgort has been romantically linked to Kendall Jenner. It compared Justin Bieber to both Rob Lowe and Anthony Michael Hall. Bieber was compared to Lowe because both found success after being involved in a scandal. Bieber drew connections to Hall because Bieber was called a ‘nerd’ for a period of time and Hall was constantly being cast as one. Hopper Penn (Sean Penn’s son) was noted for having similarities to Judd Nelson because while a fake news story went around saying that Nelson was dead, Penn has gotten into trouble with paparazzi as well. The list goes on, but one thing’s for sure: this new generation has nothing on the originals. The original Brat Pack created an entire genre that truthfully showed the neglected topic of the problems teenagers face, paving the way for these topics to be discussed in movies for years to come.