Where, oh where has John Hughes gone? This is what Patrick Goldstein asked in his March 24 Los Angeles Times column.
Apparently, the writer-director has come to resemble another famous Hughes (Howard) in his reclusive life somewhere outside Chicago. The man identified with the teen films of the 1980s and the "let's hit burglars in the balls" trend of the 1990s still maintains a powerful following among Hollywood's younger filmmakers. "He's our generation's J.D. Salinger," writer-director Kevin Smith told Goldstein. "Basically my stuff is just John Hughes films with four-letter words." Now I like Smith a lot and have enjoyed more of his films than I haven't, but has he watched some of Hughes' works since he was a teen? Sixteen Candles
is the only one that stands the test of time. I dare anyone who loved The Breakfast Club
in their youth to watch it now and not come out of it on Paul Gleason's side. (Judd Nelson alone makes you root for corporal punishment.) Hughes' absence has led people to see his work only through nostalgia's rose-colored specs and to forget how he eventually recycled bits and plots in film after film after film. Home Alone
begat Baby's Day Out
(because nothing is funnier than watching a baby in jeopardy as long as you get to see Joe Pantoliano stomping on Joe Mantegna's burning crotch at the same time. Come to think of it, it's a more violent act than anything Joey Pants did on The Sopranos
). He could also merge the farce of Home Alone
with the low-rent Albee truth games of The Breakfast Club
and come up with Career Opportunities
, memorable only for Jennifer Connelly riding a department store rocking horse. Smith, Judd Apatow and others shouldn't sell themselves short: Their best is light years better than anything Hughes ever did.