Five students, the “criminal” John Bender (JuddNelson), the “athlete” Andrew Clark (Emilio Estevez), the “brain” Brian Johnson (Anthony Michael Hall), the “basket case” Allison Reynolds (Ally Sheedy), and the “princess” Claire Standish (Molly Ringwald), all report for Saturday morning detention on March 24, 1984 at Shermer High School in the Chicago suburb of Shermer, Illinois. While not complete strangers, each of them comes from a different clique, and they seem to have nothing in common.
They gather in the high school library, where they are ordered not to speak or move from their seats or sleep by the assistant principal, Richard Vernon (Paul Gleason). They are to remain there for a period of eight hours, fifty-four minutes (from 7:06 A.M. to 4 P.M.).
He assigns a 1,000-word essay in which each student must write about who he or she thinks they are and then leaves, returning occasionally to check on them. Bender, who has a particularly negative relationship with Vernon, disregards the rules and riles the other students, mocking Brian and Andrew, and harassing Claire. Allison is initially quiet except for the occasional random outburst.
The students pass the hours by arguing and smoking marijuana that Bender retrieves from his locker. Gradually they open up to each other and reveal their inner secrets — for example, Allison is a compulsive liar, Andrew hates his father, John comes from an abusive household, Brian has contemplated suicide, and Claire is a virgin.
They also discover that they all have strained relationships with their parents and are afraid of making the same mistakes as the adults around them. However, despite these developing friendships the students are afraid that once the detention is over, they will return to their very different cliques and never speak to each other again.
Director: John Hughes
Year of Release: 1985
Character to watch: Molly Ringwald as Claire Standish.
Journal your answers to the following questions after you watch the movie.
- How does this particular character’s journey compare with yours?
- Did the character develop certain characteristics during the movie that you have or that you would like to have? If so, what are those characteristics?
- What obstacles did this character face? What was his or her biggest challenge?
- What would you have done differently if you had been in the same position as the character?
- Is this character the type of person you would be friends with? Why or why not?