“SIXTEEN CANDLES”— Teens in the 80s


Teens in the 80s

Amos Lassen

Writer-director John Hughes in his first film became the king of teen cinema with “Sixteen Candles”, and in the process he gave us one of the most iconic faces of ’80s Americana: Molly Ringwald. As high schooler Samantha Baker (Molly Ringwald), her 16th birthday could just be the worst day of her life. Her entire family has forgotten about it because her older sister’s impending wedding; her biggest crush, high school hunk Jake Ryan (Michael Schoeffling) has found an embarrassing “sex quiz” filled out by Sam in which she details how she is saving herself for him; and she is hounded by a relentless nerd, Farmer Ted AKA The Geek (Anthony Michael Hall) who won’t take no for an answer. Before the end of the night of her birthday she still hope and believes that all her birthday wishes could still come true. “Sixteen Candles” is a film that is thoughtful and funny at the same time, and still holds up very well today. 

Things really get crazy when Samantha’s grandparents invade the house for the wedding, bringing along an exchange student named Long Duk Dong (Gedde Watanabe). To escape the insanity of her home, Samantha goes to a school dance, where she is accosted by The Geek. All the while, Jake has noticed Samantha, as he’s grown tired of his stuck-up girlfriend, Caroline (Haviland Morris). As the night progresses, all of these characters intermingle with one another, and many bizarre things occur.  “Sixteen Candles” does the nearly impossible by presenting the kind of realistic diversity which one sees in a real high-school and balances this with a handful of very serious moments and many funny ones.

Granted, many of the characters in the film are exaggerations and the big party is too over the top, but there is enough genuine emotion in the film to overcome this. Anyone whose family forgot their birthday would be devastated and it is this clever and simple premise gives the film a great hook, and allows the audience to buy into Samantha’s longing for attention from anyone, especially Jake. Jake is a refreshingly original character, a rich boy who is willing to settle for what others consider to be less. But it’s Anthony Michael Hall’s geeky character that steals the film and gets in some of the best lines. “Sixteen Candles” may sound like a chick-flick, but it has something to offer anyone who’s ever felt awkward and left-out.

Samantha has a crush on her school’s most popular boy (Michael Schoeffling) but school geek (Anthony Michael Hall) has a crush on her. However, just when things look grim for Samantha, with embarrassments such as her grandparents and a foreign exchange student, it turns out her dream boy is looking at her too.

Some of the good jokes and perceptive thoughts about teenage crises are slightly marred by some crowd-pleasing easy laughs but overlook those and sit back and enjoy the affecting performances of Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall.

Bonus Materials

  • New restoration by Arrow Films from a 4K scan of the original negative
  • High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray™ presentation of the Theatrical Version of the film (92 mins), plus Blu-ray™ premiere Extended Version (94 mins), featuring the additional “cafeteria” scene newly remastered in high definition
  • Original lossless mono audio, plus 5.1 DTS-HD MA surround option
  • Original English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Alternate “home video” soundtrack prepared for VHS and laserdisc releases
  • Option to watch additional scene from the Extended Version separately
  • Casting ‘Sixteen Candles’, an all-new audio interview with casting director Jackie Burch
  • When Gedde Met Deborah, a newly filmed conversation between actors Gedde Watanabe and Deborah Pollack
  • Rudy the Bohunk, a newly filmed interview with supporting actor John Kapelos
  • The In-Between, a newly filmed interview with camera operator Gary Kibbe
  • The New Wave Nerd, a newly filmed interview with filmmaker Adam Rifkin, who shadowed John Hughes while working as an extra on set
  • Music for Geeks, a newly filmed interview with composer Ira Newborn
  • A Very Eighties Fairytale, an all-new video essay written and narrated by writer Soraya Roberts, looking at the film from a contemporary feminist perspective
  • Celebrating Sixteen Candles, an archive documentary featuring interviews with cast, crew and admirers, including stars Anthony Michael Hall, Paul Dooley, Justin Henry, Haviland Morris and Gedde Watanabe
  • Theatrical trailers, TV spots and radio spots
  • Image galleries
  • BD-ROM: PDF of the original shooting script
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sara Deck
  • FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collectors’ booklet featuring new writing on the film by Nikki Baughan and Bryan Reesman

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