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DON'T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME, 2009
In 1991, filmmaker John Hughes disappeared from Hollywood. In 2008, four filmmakers went to find him.
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After one of our WILDsound events a few audience members were hanging around finishing off their drinks when the subject of this film came up. They were all in their 30s except for one of our interns who just graduated from university. She spoke up and wondered who John Hughes was. After mentioning a few of his films: Ferris Bueller's Day Off, The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles; she further embarrassed the 30s crowd and herself by stating she didn't know those films. I interrupted to explain and said that he was the 80s version of Judd Apatow. A guy who wrote, directed and produced a lot of popular comedies but never received the critical praise from the so called experts because he was speaking a different language than them. Or from a writing standpoint, he was a bit like Kevin Smith, with a bit more emotional substance. She asked what film of his she should see first and then that's when the discussion hit another gear. What was John Hughes' best film?
A poll was conducted on this site after his death and the runaway winner was Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Which I found interesting because that was the Hughes film that really set the tone for the future of the teenager story. The 80s gave us teenage films dealing with characters that most of us were like: awkward, insecure, shy, scared of the future and really just completely confused of this world we live in. Bueller was a guy who we all wanted to be or at least be friends with. A teenager who got it before most and enjoyed life day by day because he knew the hard work really begins when you hit your 20s. And that's how teenage stories evolved entering the 90s to present day. They make stories about teenagers that we look up to because of their confidence, popularity, looks or money. They have something that we don't have and therefore like to watch them.
If you can, take a look at Judd Apatow's short run TV series called FREAKS AND GEAKS (1999-2000). A solid show (some would say best show in the last 10 years) with many John Hughesisms, but never sustained a solid audience and therefore had to be canceled. The show was too real for my eyes at the time as I was dealing with the same issues or dealt with the same issues as these characters were and I didn't want to experience it twice. Beverly Hills 90210 was a better show for me emotionally at the time as it was more of an escape. And Apatow knew that too and became a giant success when he found the magic formula of writing about slackers/losers that we still liked but only from afar. So as of 2009 most teenagers watch movies and TV shows that are about people they look up to and look down upon. But we never would of gotten there if it wasn't for Hughes' this is who we all are stories.
According to IMDB, there is a 7 month difference in age between myself and the filmmaker of Don't You Forget About Me, Matt Austin. We are 90s kids but Austin made a nostalgic film about the 80s Hughes. I find that interesting because I used to watch his films with my older sisters from the point of view of this is where I'm headed rather than this is who I am. I looked up to the honesty of these films just like Austin points out himself in the film.
Don't You Forget About Me is a film about nostalgia. A group of people go and search for the reclusive John Hughes in Chicago because they just want to tell him how much they admire him. That's all they want to do. So the question of WHY they want to do this is what makes this a film to watch as many of us between the ages of 30 and 45 feel the same way.
In their travels they run into and interview many of Hughes' past collaborators in actors Judd Nelson, Alan Ruck and Mia Sara to name a few. When they speak about Hughes there is obvious love in their eyes. There are many regrets they have about how they acted around him in their youth (especially Sara), but mostly they speak of a time they wish they could explore again. The same reasons the filmmakers are on this journey to find Hughes.
The most interesting person they review is filmmaker Kevin Smith. A man who understands what Hughes meant to him but is always in the mindset of looking ahead. He's making his own movies and Hughes' influence will always be there in his films, but that's all he needs. Smith is a guy who doesn't need to speak to Hughes in person because Hughes is always there to speak to him anytime he wants. All he needs to do is pop in one of his films in the DVD machine.
And that's the whole point of this film. John Hughes made an giant dent in the world of storytelling. He told stories that will always stand the test of time. Filmmaker Matt Austin's kids kids will be watching his films and relating with his messages and characters. Meeting the real John Hughes himself will just lead to an anticlimantic event. It's better to remember him for how you see him as, not for who he really is. Hughes is like a great athlete or rock star. There's no point in meeting say Derek Jeter, Tom Brady or Eddie Veder because how you see them will always be better than the real thing.
Highly interesting film that forced me to remember my childhood and brought up things that I forgot happened. Thank you John Hughes and thank you Matt Austin and his filmmaking team.