John Hughes passed away 10 years ago, and with this anniversary, we remember his films. Specifically, ten of his best works. It's no question Hughes made a significant impact upon teen pop culture of the 1980s, and that each of his films carried a heartfelt message weaved in alongside the comedy, romance and slapstick quality of his works.
His films are relatable and outrageous all at once, supplying us with a lifetime of laughter for years to come. Whether it's family, friends or romance, Hughes covered it all in memorable and eternal quality. That said, here are 10 of his best films!
10 Mr. Mom
Remember 1983's Mr. Mom? Written by Hughes, it stars Michael Keaton as a laid-off engineer that switches roles with his wife when she goes back to work, and he becomes the stay-at-home parent.
Ahead of its time and filled with slapstick humor (washing machines gone wild, a vacuum named "Jaws," a grocery store misadventure), Mr. Mom isn't short on laughs. Yet, this role reversal changed the way we saw genders at the same time, and in 1983, this was certainly monumental with its message of equality, perseverance, and hard work on the parts of both genders.
Co-written by Hughes under a pseudonym, the premise is how a big, messy St. Bernard changes the lives of the Newton family. Beethoven is nothing short of a superhero in the eyes of all but the family patriarch, George Newton (Charles Grodin) who is jealous of the attention Beethoven receives from his family.
Beethoven saves the life of the youngest daughter from drowning, finds a way to help the eldest daughter talk to her crush, and rescues the middle son from a gaggle of bullies. Ultimately, George comes to accept Beethoven as part of the family just in time to save him from a malicious veterinarian (along with many other dogs).
8 Pretty in Pink
This 1986 gem features Andie (Molly Ringwald), a girl that doesn't have much, captures the attention of rich kid Blane (Andrew McCarthy). Andie is insecure, given Blane's social status, and is ashamed of who she is and where she comes from. Her best friend, Duckie (Jon Cryer) secretly harbors a crush on her and discourages her from dating Blane.
These things, combined with being bullied by the popular crowd, cause Andie to end things with Blane under the guise of him being ashamed to be around her. However, true love exists somewhere, as Andie (with Duckie's help) realizes Blane is genuine, and Blane stands up to his friends so he can live his life the way he wants, with Andie.
7 Home Alone
This film may be one of the most memorable Christmastime movies out there. When Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) is mistakenly left behind while the rest of his family rushes off to Paris from Chicago, it initially appears as every kid's dream come true: full control of the house and the freedom to do whatever he wants. Eventually, Kevin realizes that being alone isn't such a great thing, especially when two bumbling burglars target his home.
Kevin arms his house in a series of hilariously set-up elaborate traps, ultimately winning with help from his kind neighbor. Mixed in with the holidays and humor is a message of the importance of family, for Kevin and for his neighbor.
6 Sixteen Candles
This is the story of a sweet sixteen gone wrong: no one remembers Samantha's (Molly Ringwald) birthday. Sam faces nerdy Ted (Anthony Michael Hall), a cute senior for whom she has a major crush on, Jake (Michael Schoeffling), a foreign exchange student named Long Duk Dong (Gedde Watanabe) and her frazzled family as they prepare for Sam's sister's wedding.
Every girl's dream comes true when Sam does eventually end up with Jake. The high school misadventures, the girl longing for a certain guy and outrageous house parties are certainly relatable for audiences of every generation; the zany humor of it all to boot is what makes this film so memorable.
5 The Breakfast Club
This film is certainly one of Hughes' most remembered projects. Five students of different cliques find themselves in detention together one Saturday morning. Throughout their day, they each discover why the others were placed in detention and what struggles they deal with, at times being brutally honest about the realities of life in high school, like being placed in different social groups and the pressures they face every day.
In the end, they leave an essay for their strict and burned-out assistant principal in which they acknowledge that each of them is a princess, a criminal, an athlete, a brain and a basket case. This film stands throughout time, as these struggles are real for each generation; its anthem is appropriately titled "Don't You (Forget About Me)."
4 The Great Outdoors
This 1988 classic stars Dan Aykroyd and John Candy as brothers-in-law that couldn't be more opposite. Roman (Aykroyd) and his family invade Chet (Candy) and his family's vacation at a cabin in a remote area; misadventures ensue. From an ill-fated boating outing to a "true bear story" tension builds between the two patriarchs and their families until Roman admits that he's bankrupt and discovers his daughters to be missing.
Who can forget Chet running through the woods in the rain, barging through the door, breathlessly exclaiming "Big bear chase me?" Like some of his other films, Hughes emphasizes the importance of family and sticking together.
3 Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Traveling is already stressful without adding every traveler's worst nightmare to it. Trying to get from New York City to Chicago in time for Thanksgiving with his family, Neal (Steve Martin) finds the task a bit too much to handle, especially when Del (John Candy) gets involved.
The two polar opposites meet on the plane, and embark on ill-fated adventures, including flight delays, sharing a motel bed, robbery, destroyed motel room, and a car fire, among other catastrophes. The two tend to clash but become the best of friends, with Neal inviting Del (who is revealed to have no family) to Thanksgiving dinner. The power of friendship is portrayed strongly, especially when they can make it through the traveling experiences they've had.
2 National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) just wants to have the perfect family Christmas. Trouble is, he soon finds himself in over his head when his wacky relatives permeate his home. This is still a Christmastime favorite because of the amount of slapstick comedy, witty quotes, Cousin Eddie's (Randy Quaid) antics, Clark's tirade about his boss, sledding, burning Christmas trees, elaborate and extensive Christmas decorations and obnoxious neighbors.
While families may clash and drive you crazy, Clark realizes that the true spirit of Christmas is about getting past that and being grateful for the time you have together to celebrate.
1 Uncle Buck
Buck (John Candy) helps out his brother and sister-in-law by watching their children while they are away. Buck's untraditional approach to parenting the nieces and nephew he hardly knows ensues in some chaos, but in his own unconventional and sometimes crude way he repairs their family, which has been struggling with adjusting to their new home following a move, especially Tia (Jean Louisa Kelly), Buck's eldest niece.
Buck bonds with his nieces and nephew, sharing good times and bad, and ultimately, they help him too in realizing what his priorities in life should be. The power of family in changing your life for the better is what makes this film so meaningful.
John Hughes never ceased to amaze and impress us with his films, which blended just the right amount of comedy and heartfelt messages. He wrote most of his films, sometimes producing and directing too, adding his own flair to the filmmaking industry. His films live on as a legacy for new generations to discover, and for other generations to re-watch and enjoy all over again. These films stand among time because they contain the elements that are relatable, the elements that are a part of life.