Running Time: 93 Minutes
Director: John Hughes
Starring: Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Michael Schoeffling, Gedde Watanabe, Haviland Morris, Paul Dooley
Plot: Samantha, a vapid, seemingly invisible high school sophomore takes a melancholy look at her life after her birthday is forgotten due to the shadow cast by her older sister’s wedding. Meanwhile, Jake, the older boy she has a crush on, decides that he might have a deep emotional connection to Sam (despite never having spoken to her) after he intercepts a note conveying Samantha’s secret desire to have sex with him. Meanwhile, Ted, a charmingly geeky freshmen, commits constant acts of sexual aggression towards women.
Review: I’ll be the first to admit that my love for the Eighties blinds me to a lot of inherent flaws in things from that era. Music, movies, fashion styles… I have nothing but unfettered love for all of it. Sixteen Candles is no exception. It’s one of my favorite movies of all time. Sure, it’s misogynist and racist, and I don’t support that. I will also concede that it takes an alarmingly cavalier stance on very serious social issues (such as rape). If you put this movie under a microscope everyone in it is an irredeemable monster; however, if you only pay attention to the tone of the movie and take it at face value…well then it just becomes a fun romp for the whole family.
I actually do think that to a point the characters were written well. They are all shallow, self-centered teenagers, but to the best of my recollection so were my friends and I when we were in high school. Hell, some of us still are. I’m literally typing this because of some innate belief that people should care about my opinions. The hubris that comes with thinking that I am capable of watching moving images with more acuity than other people is honestly staggering, but I’m going to keep going. Aside from being shallow, I maintain that Anthony Michael Hall plays a straight-up sex criminal. He is tasked with safely transporting the prom queen home after she is passed out drunk; the next morning they wake up in a parking lot and discuss how he had sex with her. I’m going to play that back again…a protagonist in this movie has sex with an unconscious girl. She then says that she thinks she enjoyed it. That is fucking insane. The word “Chinaman” is also used more than never, so there’s that.
Despite a lot of content that most of us can now agree is totally unacceptable, this movie is pretty damn funny. My biggest problem with it is that it’s really hard to defend Sixteen Candles without sounding like you’re making a press release to address a fraternity scandal. The cast is charismatic and I never get tired of watching it. Besides…it was a different time… they didn’t mean any harm by it… and boys will be boys.