Review No. 492
A birthday movie with not a single surprise.
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY JOHN HUGHES. PRODUCED BY HILTON A. GREEN, MICHELLE MANNING, AND NED TANEN. STARRING MOLLY RINGWALD (SAMANTHA “SAM” BAKER), PAUL DOOLEY (JIM BAKER), JUSTIN HENRY (MIKE BAKER), ANTHONY MICHAEL HALL (“THE GEEK”), MICHAEL SCHOEFFLING (JAKE RYAN), GEDDE WATANABE (LONG DUK DONG), HAVILAND MORRIS (CAROLINE MULFORD), CARLIN GLYNN (BRENDA BAKER), AND BLANCHE BAKER (GINNY BAKER). ALSO STARRING EDWARD ANDREWS, BILLIE BIRD, CAROLE COOK, MAX SHOWALTER, LIANE ALEXANDRA CURTIS, JOHN CUSACK, DARREN HARRIS, DEBORAH POLLACK, JOAN CUSACK, JOHN KAPELOS, JAMI GERTZ, BRIAN DOYLE-MURRAY, AND ZELDA RUBINSTEIN. DISTRIBUTED BY UNIVERSAL PICTURES ON MAY 4, 1984. PRODUCED IN ENGLISH BY THE UNITED STATES. RUNS 1 HOUR, 33 MINUTES. RATED PG ON APPEAL BY THE MPAA (ADULT SITUATIONS, BRIEF NUDITY, PROFANITY, YOUTH SUBSTANCE USE).
SIXTEEN CANDLES WAS WATCHED ON JUNE 2, 2013.
“A geek is a guy who has everything going for him but he’s just too young. He’s got the software but he doesn’t have the hardware yet.” –John Hughes
Sixteen Candles is an episodic, frenetic potpourri of uncommon worst case scenarios. Samantha Baker (Molly Ringwald) is waking up on her sixteenth birthday, and her entire family has forgotten. They’re much more focused on her sister’s upcoming wedding, which turns out to be quite uneventful as well. Her grandparents come to visit and don’t know how not to embarrass her. She gets so absent-minded that she ends up giving her panties to an immature geek. There’s a handful of dramatic moments that give us a sympathetic outlook on her, but for the most part, this is a movie that wants to make us laugh. It does, for some time, but eventually, these scenarios grow tiresome and entirely predictable. I’ll give credit for one hopeful idea that permeates the film, but when it comes to such an obvious ending, there’s no rewarding effect.
This is a perfectly watchable movie; whether or not it’s enjoyable depends on your tolerance of teen comedies. The screenplay is lackluster, with characters routinely talking to themselves when someone walks out of the room, yet it sounds like a conversation. Just break the fourth wall and it won’t seem so awkward! The one saving grace is Molly Ringwald. She makes the lead character accessible and lovable, amid the ignorance of just about everyone else here. She’s the one reserved character in this demanding caricature.
Sixteen Candles was John Hughes’s debut. His next film was The Breakfast Club, a much better film. I guess this should have been my expectation. After all, James Cameron debuted with the critically panned Piranha Part Two and proceeded to direct The Terminator; Steven Spielberg debuted with a mostly forgotten comedy, The Sugarland Express, and proceeded to direct Jaws. Hughes’s Sixteen Candles did have its moments. I cracked up quite a number of times during this film. Ask me in a day or two what I was cracking up at, and that’ll be a million dollar question.