The 80s were a tough time for fashion, music and films. Very little from that particular decade has aged well. This is especially true when it comes to films. An exception is Sixteen Candles. While I won’t claim that some scenes won’t make you cringe at their inappropriateness there are many more that will have you sympathizing with the lead character or laughing out loud. It is a classic 80s film in that it perfectly sums up the time.
Sixteenth birthdays are big deals for girls. Sweet sixteens mark the transition period from being a young girl to verging on being a woman for females. Many young women and their families go all out to mark the occasion. Not Samantha Baker’s (Molly Ringwald – The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink) family. They don’t even seem to remember that it is her birthday never mind her sweet sixteen. Part of the reason is that her sister Ginny (Blanche Baker – Raw Deal, The Handmaid’s Tale) is getting married the next day. They are all caught up in that.
This suits Samantha fine as she has other things on her mind. Other things like boys. She has a crush on the most popular guy in her school, Jake Ryan (Michael Schoeffling – Mermaids, Vision Quest), and has to ward off the attention of the biggest geek (Anthony Michael Hall – The Dark Knight, Edward Scissorhands) in her school. The Geek has made a bet with his friends that he can get Samantha to sleep with him so he is very determined to make that happen. The big school dance is coming up and Samantha is stressed out about it.
As if her plate wasn’t full enough both sets of grandparents are staying with Samantha’s family leading up to the wedding and one set has brought along Chinese exchange student, Long Duc Dong (Gedde Watanabe – Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Mulan). Her parents force her to bring Long Duc to the school dance. It is soon going to be a weekend that no one will soon forget.
For anyone who grew up in the 1980s this is a film that stands out. It is one that everyone saw. It was a favourite comedy for teens in the 80s. Now we can think of it as a guilty pleasure.
Despite the amount of time that has passed (the film came out in 1984) the jokes are for the most part still funny. It also reminds us of things from the 80s like floppy disks and headgear braces. I particularly enjoy how some very familiar faces from that time like John and Joan Cusack and Jamie Gertz are in the background of the film.
Actress Molly Ringwald and director John Hughes (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Uncle Buck) built their careers on teenage angst film like this. It was one in a series that cemented Molly Ringwald as everyone’s sweetheart of the decade. It began her string of films in which she played the smart but woefully overlooked by the cute guys girl. She has never been as successful as an adult actress as she was then. Lightning in a bottle. John Hughes, who died too young, gave us a film with a lot of classic scenes. The kiss over the birthday cake, Anthony Michael Hall charging his friends $1 to see Samantha’s panties, Joan Cusack in her headgear. Plus, until you watch it again you don’t realize how much language came out of the film. “What’s a happening, hot stuff” and “Oh look, Frank, she got her boobies” were used over and over.
-24-Page Booklet with Photos from Sixteen Candles
-Celebrating Sixteen Candles: Revisit Sixteen Candles
-100 Years of Universal: The 80s
-100 Years of Universal: Unforgettable Charcters