Thursday, 6 August 2009

John Hughes RIP

If you went through your teen years in the 1980s then you would know the name of John Hughes. He was the filmmaker that pretty much defined teen life at that time, and he passed away this morning from a heart attack at age 59.

He started out as a copy-writer for an ad agency, and branched out into writing jokes for stand up comedians like Rodney Dangerfield, and eventually wrote for National Lampoon magazine, where he wrote the disastrous Class Reunion, and the mega-successful Vacation. And while he made mega bucks from writing and producing kid family comedies like Home Alone, he will be best remembered, at by my generation, for his teen films.

Most teen comedies of the 1980s were really just cheap excuses for Phoebe Cates, or her imitators, to take their tops off. I'm not complaining about that, but most of those films were ultimately forgettable. With Hughes' film, his teens were treated as people, not excuses for cheap gags, they had feelings, pasts and futures beyond the film's immediate storyline, and he could make you care about them.

Sure, his films were set in an upscale suburb that seemed a rich fantasy-land to many, but that was part of their appeal. The lack of greater social ills hanging over these stories made them center on the characters and their problems, and not be a lecture about urban poverty, or the complications of modern sexual politics.

Even though he hasn't made a film in a long time, he will still be missed.

Class dismissed.

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