Aug 7, 2009

a note to mr john hughes - a day late and a dollar short

While I cannot speak with you, Mr Hughes, I write this to you as if I could.

Our relationship has been strange, for at times I felt as if your movies provided a voice to me (and my generation) while at other times you walked me into topics of conversation I wasn't ready for.

We first met when Jack and Caroline Butler switched roles - she went to work after he was laid off, and he became Mr Mom. I wasn't sure why I didn't like that Joan lady, but later on I understood what she was up to. Shame on her.

I remember traveling with the Griswold family on their way to Wally World... and strangely knew every character they encountered on the trip - including the bumbling security guards.

The geek squad in Sixteen Candles were guys I knew... and the idea of Jake Ryan hanging out with one of them was familiar, as was the geek squad's dream of being hit on by his girlfriend.

One Saturday during my Freshman year I had to spend the day in "Saturday school" because of an infraction I'd taken part in and got caught doing. Without the Breakfast Club, none of us would have been inspired to whistle while we cleaned locker rooms or mouth off behind the teacher's back. Again, though, I really didn't need to learn all those swear words from John Bender, but I knew that guy in high school as well as Andrew the wrestler, and, well... the rest of the crew.

Then came Weird Science, and again I was tracking with two misfits who thought they could manipulate their peers into liking them by inventing an out of control supermodel with their computer.

Okay, maybe you lost me there.

You definitely lost me with Pretty in Pink.

But finally - Ferris Bueller's Day Off. A movie that defined my life more than I even realized at the time. My home city, Chicago, was the fourth "character" in the day trip of Ferris, Sloan, and Cameron. I could never decide who I was more like in the movie - Ferris or Cameron. I certainly had the ditching school side of life down pat (and getting away with it), but Cameron's nervous ticks and parental "stuff" were all too familiar.

Thanks for Some Kind Of Wonderful - which apparently was Pretty In Pink with a different ending. But I felt like I was watching adults play teenage parts... not that it hadn't happened before, but I think this was the first time I noticed.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles was funny - but a bit above my head when I saw it. You danced around a bit more with adult films - something about She's Having A Baby that I never cared to watch, and the Great Outdoors which sort of made me unappreciate Dan Akroyd for the first time. Uncle Buck brought me back, though... four hits of John Candy in your movies, which wasn't a bad idea if I do say so myself.

Then came Home Alone.

I knew I was supposed to like it and find it funny. For that reason alone, I did not and still am afraid to in the presence of others. It was just... too popular... and that sort of rubbed against the grain of you being that alternative voice to my generation. It felt like you'd gone commercial, and I just couldn't stomach that Culkin kid and his face slapping antics.

(But just between you and me, I watched it again a year ago and saw Kevin as one of my boys... and I started crying during those sappy parts... doggone it... but don't tell anyone or I'll deny it)

Everything after that was a bit of a blur.
  • Career Opportunities? That was the first time I ever heard of a Target store.
  • Dutch? Had no interest in watching it - but I remember the ad - something about how he helped some kid "discover the child in himself."
  • Curly Sue? Sassy kid movie - didn't need it.
  • Beethoven? Well, okay - a decent dog movie.
  • Home Alone 2: Lost in New York? Couldn't watch it for the same reasons as the first.
  • Dennis the Menace. I remember the day I vowed I would *never* see this movie. And I still haven't... I'm sorry, but a little too "cutesy/slapsticky" for me.
  • Baby's Day Out? Again - another movie every parent told me I just "had to see." No... I didn't.
  • Miracle on 34th Street? A remake.
  • 101 Dalmatians? Can someone please stop Glenn Close from saying "Woof Woof?"
  • Flubber? Poor Robin Williams.
  • Home Alone 3? Okay, seriously... enough.
  • Reach The Rock? Never heard of it.
  • Just Visiting? Wish I'd never heard of it.
  • Maid in Manhattan? That's the one with Jennifer Lopez where all the maids do a sassy dance, right? What's with all the sassy stuff?
  • Drillbit Taylor? Missed it.
Mr Hughes, I don't mean to criticize your later work, but simply put... you lost me.

And yet I find that none of that matters, for I've learned through you that if for even one moment on this planet you hear your thoughts in someone else's words you are bonded to that person forever... as if they set free something within you that you didn't think could ever be articulated.

So whether it's Brian's monologue at the end of the Breakfast Club...

or Ferris' instruction on how to fake out parents that you're too sick for school...

or Clark Griswold describing Uncle Eddie to Uncle Eddie...

there is a part of my language that comes from you.

It has given me inside jokes with my friends...

fuel for my high school classmates to feel safer in their angst...

material for an article I wrote for a newspaper column...

laughter in my head when someone asks, "Any questions?" and I begin to think, "Yeah, I have a question..."

and much more.

Can you hear this?

Would you like me to turn it up?

1 comment:

Ken R. said...

Our youth pastor was recently in charge of walking around with a microphone and having people share with the group. At one point he couldn't get anyone to volunteer and said: "Bueller, Bueller." to which the three tables of youth leaders laughed...and the rest of the room was silent.

I loved that movie.