Sixteen candles

There is a photograph printed in the mind of many nostalgics of the 80s, two boys, one she and one seated opposite each other separated by a meter away with a birthday cake and candles to blow out . The young people who stare at each other are Molly Ringwald, a girl I have fallen in love with since I was 13/14 years old, and Michael Schoeffling, a film meteor. This scene is practically a generational symbol, a bit like the old Coca-Cola logo or A-ha’s Take on me cartoon video. It is the finale of Sixteen candles – A birthday to remember, a film that has never claimed to be considered a masterpiece, but an ironic page of a magical decade that draws strength from the boys, just as happened in the 1950s. Conceived, written and directed by John Hughes, here at his film debut, it proved to be an excellent success at the box office and, for the Chicago director, it was the first step in a curious career characterized by the initial underestimation and then rediscovered in the new century and even more after his untimely death (2009).

The life of Samantha Baker, “Sam” for friends and relatives, has come to the fateful sixteenth birthday (a bit like our 18 years). The trouble is that his family forgets the important milestone due to the imminent marriage of the first-born Ginny, an awkward self-centered and spoiled 20-year-old. Grandparents, maternal and paternal, also arrive at the Baker home, the latter accompanied by Long Duk Dong, a Chinese boy who is spending some time with them to settle in the USA. Sam, obviously annoyed by his family’s missed wishes, seeks refuge in the school environment and in his friends, but there is also a problem: 16 candles_2 Jake Ryan, the boy Sam is in love with, seems not to calculate her. In addition to this the fake loverboy Ted, called Geek, the tampina as he is in love with Sam. Thanks to a series of absurd circumstances, however, it will be Geek to make Jake, engaged to the vain and superficial Caroline, notice Sam. As things go on, the days behind Ginny’s wedding will revolutionize her seemingly mediocre life …

As previously mentioned, Hughes never aimed to impress the critics, but to paint in an original, ironic and sincere way a postcard depicting a growing generation. The roaring years of the new American dream tease each other, between chaotic parties with beer and anything else and the purest and most vulgar romance. Hughes, therefore, offers a graceful comedy about adolescent light-heartedness, cheering the public with curious ideas in a generally colorful context. As in almost all his films there is the help of splendid soundtracks (Ira Newborn). The cartoonesque choices, however, tend to transform the product into a hybrid, cheeky on certain aspects and shy on others, sometimes even not well understood: a language that is difficult to interpret because16 candles_3 does not want to flaunt a refined symbolism, but only exorcise any situation comical or not. The plot, which starts off on the right foot, tends to come out too often off-topic, creating sometimes useless and approximate subplots that are useless: the result is smeared. However, some very funny scenes remain, even if isolated, they really made school. Good young actors, especially Anthony Michael Hall, another director’s fetish actor. The young brothers John and Joan Cusack are also in the cast. Honor to Hughes and his belief, but it is certainly not his best film.


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