Sixteen Candles (1984)
This movie stems from a very deep, personal place. My birthday (5th of September, thanks for asking), was always the first day of school. People were so wrapped up in describing their summer holidays that they almost always forgot to sing me Happy Birthday at the canteen. I can tell you now, from personal experience, THAT THERE IS NO GREATER PAIN THAN PEOPLE FORGETTING YOUR BIRTHDAY. It’s fine, though, because I can just add it to my list of John Hughes’ movies that describe my life.
Sixteen Candles is the ultimate 80s teen girl fantasy: bagging the dark and silent, but totally sensitive, school hunk, while being just plain-looking enough to garner a sense of humbleness and reality to the whole daydream. Molly Ringwald was that girl. Hot enough to legitimately be able to spurn the advances of a geeky Anthony Michael Hall, but not so hot as to qualify to be a cheerleader and a legitimate huge bitch. She is the every-girl of the 80s, or at least the girl we all aspire to be or are deluded enough to think we are, with a charm and screen presence only really matched today by the likes of Emma Stone.
Leaning in for a kiss and….five seconds later his sex is on fire (like literal flames of fire on his penis).
Beyond its likeable star, Sixteen Candles is filled with enjoyable clichés: the drunken whore and her gaggle of sniggering cohorts, the over-confident, geeky creep jumping girls on the bus, Joan Cusack in a neck brace. While perhaps not possessing characters as classic as the Breakfast Club kids, or Ferris Bueller and Cameron Frye being cool and having breakdowns, Sixteen Candles is still easy to fall in love with (and take to the dance).
There’s a couple of elements in this movie I really don’t understand. It’s not even that they’re necessarily bad elements, but I genuinely can’t comprehend the artistic decision behind them. I’m mainly talking about the scene where Samantha and her best friend watch her crushes’ girlfriend shower naked. Full titties and everything. So this movie is meant to appeal to straight guys? There are a few suggestions along the way that this movie attempts to gain some broader appeal: there’s wacky cartoon sound effects to suggest boyish hijinks are afoot; there’s some light molestation from a granny and a car blowjob. But how many straight guys are going to be into a film which ends with a boy sitting cross-legged on a table across from a girl in front a pink cake he made her?
And girls? I’m imagining they’re probably as weirded out as I was by the whole “casually staring at your crushes’ girlfriend’s naked body” thing. I mean, that’s not what usually happens right? RIGHT? Plus, one of the big set-pieces surrounds a girl getting her period on her wedding day. Watch every guy make a run for the door. Sweating profusely.
I’m going to give it an extra beer for the Chinese Exchange Student character. I’m not even sure whether it’s because of the racial stereotyping, but my brain thought (a) It was stupid (b) It was annoying, and (c) Really? A gong every time he walks in the room?
On the casual racism scale it’s falling somewhere between Ken Jeong in The Hangover and Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Sixteen Candles might not be Hughes’ best and stands a little aimless in its appeal, but is still a great choice for girly sleepovers where chips, dip, and crying is involved.
Take a Drink: every time Molly Ringwald rolls her eyes or bites her lower lip.
Take a Drink: every time you hear a gong introducing the Chinese Exchange Student
Take a Drink: every time John Cusack is adorable (answer: it’s all the time).
Do a Shot: for every crappy added sound effect (ZAP. BOING. WHAWHAWHA.)