While You’ve Got Mail, might be synonymous with the 90’s, it could be said that any coming of age movie by John Hughes can be synonymous with the 80’s. But while You’ve Got Mail was all about the mass consumerism and everything wrong with Rom Coms and the 90’s in general, Hughes movies are looked on with more endearing eyes. They have more of a feel of nostalgia and a return to childhoods instead of ‘Oh yeah that existed back in that decade’. Out of all of the John Hughes movies there are very few that can match the level of all out cheese that Sixteen Candles reaches. As I said last week, not every movie for Cheesy Romance Week is going to be bad… Cheesy as all hell; yes, but definitely not bad. Sixteen Candles is a big ball of coming of age 80’s cheese that only the likes of John Hughes and the Brat Pack could successfully portray.
Sixteen Candles is about the most important time in our lives, high school. Samantha Baker (Molly Ringwald) is an awkward teenage girl about to reach the most important time of our lives, the age of 16. It is a huge year for her as she is blossoming into a young woman. But all of this is lost on her family since her older sister Ginny is getting married the next day which is made even worse as the entire Baker clan including a strange foreign exchange student named ‘Long Duk Dong’ (Gedde Watanabe) (GET IT) is suddenly in their household. Life is no better in school after a confidential ‘sex quiz’ is mishandled and accidentally ends up in the hands of Jake Ryan (Michael Schoeffling), a high school senior plus the subject of Sam’s infatuation and the boy she wants to give her virginity to.
Leading up to the night of the ‘big dance’ which coincidentally is shared with Sam’s birthday, Sam is being harassed by a boy named Ted (Anthony Michael Hall) who wishes to obtain a pair of Sam’s panties, because high school, I don’t know. They end up having a tender moment and Ted agrees to help Jake and Sam get together.
It is a Sweet Coming of Age Story
Come on… It’s John Hughes… Of course this is going to be a wonderful coming of age story. Granted it isn’t all the way coming of age, but more or less a light-hearted story of the life of awkward teenagers. It is a great story about those awkward years of high school when getting a guy to notice you or convincing everyone that you are as cool as you say you are. Ringwald, Hall, and Hughes do what they do best; create a fun and light-hearted coming of age story.
It is Relatable
If you are going through those awkward teenage years, then this movie is definitely for you, for both girls and boys. Ringwald and Hall both portray very different problems that an awkward teenager would face. While Sam is upset that she appears completely invisible to her family on her birthday and has gone boy crazy of a guy that she barely talks to, Ted’s only real goal is to be cool to his peers and creating an image… Even though he is ‘dorky’ or ‘nerdy’. Both of which are situations that just about every high schooler will suffer through at one point or another.
All Characters are Annoying, Weird, or Bland
I do not know if it is intentional because you know ‘high school’. But every character in this movie is either extremely annoying, almost reaching levels of socially inept weird, or just so bland that they are almost invisible. Ringwald’s character you can kind of understand since she is going through the awkward teen phases of life and maybe a little bit of narcissism is merited for the sixteenth birthday. But on the level of her family, every one of them seems to be absolutely insane. I wonder how this family is even able to function considering the fact that the family is willing to just bring a random exchange student to their home without announcement or be oblivious to the fact that Sam’s birthday and Ginny’s wedding are happening one day apart from each other.
Then we have characters like Ted and his friends. I understand that high school can be an awkward time but these characters apparently do not understand how human beings function. Why anyone would pay a dollar to see a girl at schools panties is completely beyond me. I guess it was a trope in the 80’s to make ‘nerds’ and ‘geeks’ out to be the most socially ignorant people on the planet.
But none of them compares to the King of Blandness, Jake Ryan. It is really no fault of Michael Schoeffling who is given a character who basically only serves to continue Sam Baker’s plot. The guy is a copy and paste cute boy that every high school movie needs to have. He is athletic, handsome, and yet sympathetic to the nerdy guys. But other than that… There is no other arch to him other than to make all of Sam’s dreams come true.
I’m not sure if it was the intention of Hughes or not to write all the characters as annoying/weird/bland as they were. But it was certainly a distraction for me.
Sixteen Candles is definitely a cheesy romance. It focuses on one of the most shallow of romances, the teenage drama… And yet it is a very enjoyable story. The story and characters are ones you can relate to, even if they are pretty irritating. It is harmless, fun, and nostalgic all wrapped into one Rom Com roll.
Final Score 3.5/5
Thank you for reading and if you enjoyed this review then please like and subscribe for more. Sorry about missing the Sunday review. I’m still trying to get Broken Age converted into a video file and loading it to YouTube and hopefully have it up sometime this week. Either way you can look forward to that and my review of Frozen.