John Hughes 5-Movie Collection.
Directed by John Hughes and Howard Deutch.
Starring Molly Ringwald, Harry Dean Stanton, Jon Cryer, Annie Potts, James Spader, Andrew McCarthy, Matthew Broderick, Mia Sara, Alan Ruck, Eric Stoltz, Mary Stuart Masterson, Craig Sheffer, Lea Thompson, Steve Martin, John Candy, Kevin Bacon, Elizabeth McGovern.
If you’re a John Hughes fan looking to scoop up some of his movies cheap, you can’t go wrong with this new five-film Blu-ray collection. She’s Having a Baby and Some Kind of Wonderful make their high-def debuts, and Paramount tossed in the same Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Pretty in Pink, Planes, and Trains and Automobiles Blu-rays that were previously released. You’ll also find copious bonus features, along with digital codes for all the films.
May every creative person have the kind of output that writer, director, and producer John Hughes had during the 1980s and 90s. He’s best-remembered for his 80s work, but his output during the subsequent decade was just as prolific, albeit not as memorable.
Of course, those 80s films have still proven to be popular on home video, especially with my fellow Gen Xers, and Paramount has obliged with a new five-movie Blu-ray collection that repackages Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Pretty in Pink, Planes, Trains and Automobiles from previous releases, with high-def debuts for She’s Having a Baby and Some Kind of Wonderful. The films seem randomly chosen, and it’s not clear why the studio decided the last two movies would get their first spins on Blu-ray in this set, as opposed to standalone releases.
Digital codes are also included for all five films, but I’d like to note here that it would be great if Paramount finally cut some kind of deal with Movies Anywhere. It’s annoying to need multiple sources for all my digital films.
For my money, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is the quintessential Hughes teen comedy and, arguably, his best film. You know the plot, so I won’t recite it, but I’ve always found it to be a perfect mix of goofy humor and coming-of-age drama, with plenty of quotable and GIF-able moments. Who hasn’t used a “Life moves pretty fast” GIF in a chat? (Bonus points if you did it at work.)
This is the same disc released as the “Bueller … Bueller … Edition” in 2009. It features two featurettes on the making of the film totaling about 42 minutes, along with Who is Ferris Bueller? (a look at the title character, of course), The World According to Ben Stein (a look at Stein’s career) , Vintage Ferris Bueller: The Lost Tapes (the cast talks about their experiences making the film), and a photo gallery aptly titled Class Album.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Released the same year as Ferris, Pretty in Pink was written and produced by Hughes but not directed by him, a fact I admit I often forget. Howard Deutch picked up the directorial reins for this one and Molly Ringwald starred in the title role, marking three years in a row that she had a major part in a Hughes movie. (May every actor get a three-year string like that.)
You probably know the plot of this one too, so I’ll spare you, but I’ll just say that Pretty in Pink didn’t quite do it for me in my younger years, likely due to my inability to relate to Ringwald’s character. However, now that I have a daughter who has finished high school, I can appreciate it more.
Not only can I see Andie’s experiences through my kid’s eyes, but I can also use the film to look back on my own high school experiences, which had their share of rich kids versus poor kids, despite the fact that my town was pretty affluent overall. If you haven’t seen this one in a while, give it a watch. You may be pleasantly surprised.
This seems to be the same disc released last year as part of the Paramount Presents line. The bonus features are sparse: a 7.5-minute interview with Deutch; a 12-minute look back on the film’s original ending and the decision to change it; an isolated score track; and the theatrical trailer. That’s a shame, since this film could use a big batch of extras, especially in light of its 35th anniversary this year.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Deutch also helmed 1987’s Some Kind of Wonderful, which is on Blu-ray for the first time in this set. Socio-economic divisions among teens run strong in this film too, which stars Eric Stoltz as Keith, an aspiring musician and mechanic; Mary Stuart Masterson as his friend Watts, whose tomboy qualities have led other teens to assume she’s a lesbian; and Lea Thompson as Amanda, the most popular girl in school and the target of Keith’s affections.
The plot is reminiscent of Pretty in Pink, only with a teenage boy at the center of a love triangle, rather than a girl. Pink tends to get all the attention when folks wax nostalgic about John Hughes, but Wonderful is a serviceable film in its own right. In some ways, it’s even better than its predecessor: Stoltz and Masterson have better onscreen chemistry than Molly Ringwald and Jon Cryer, whose character she was supposed to end up with in Pretty in Pink.
The bonus features were ported over from an earlier DVD release with the exception of a new interview, Back to Wonderful, which features Deutch offering a nearly seven-minute overview of the making of the film. There’s also a vintage making-of featurette as well as interviews with Deutch and the cast, a short piece about the film’s music, a nearly 11-minute interview with Hughes conducted by Kevin Bacon in 1986, and a commentary track with Deutch and Thompson that has more than its share of quiet moments.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Hughes’ Planes, Trains and Automobiles came out in 1987 too, but he directed that one. He took a sharp turn from the kinds of films he had become known for, instead crafting a buddy comedy about two wayward travelers, played by Steve Martin and John Candy, who are trying to get home for Thanksgiving. Much like the way Ferris took the idea of playing hooky from school to great lengths, Planes imagines just about every crazy, ridiculous thing that could happen on such a trip.
Like Hughes’ other well-remembered films, Planes is also full of quotable, GIF-able moments, which shouldn’t be a surprise given the tight script and the presence of two comedians who were at the top of their game in the late 80s. In some ways, the story is really “The Odd Couple take a road trip,” proving that you can always spin an old trope for new laughs.
This is the same disc Paramount issued in 2012. The centerpiece of the bonus features is John Hughes: Life Moves Pretty Fast, a 52-minute look at his life, career, and movies. Given the fact that his abrupt death in 2009 was still fresh, it’s a poignant look at a guy whose filmography can be easily placed against many of the most prolific folks in Hollywood history.
Also included are 16 minutes of interviews with Hughes, Martin, and Candy; a four-minute look at the director’s more adult-oriented movies (such as this one; get your mind out of the gutter); a three-minute tribute to Candy, who passed in 1994; and a deleted scene.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Finally, we have 1988’s She’s Having a Baby, which Hughes wrote, directed and produced. He only directed two more movies after this one, Uncle Buck and Curly Sue, so She’s Having a Baby marks the end of him directing these kinds of relationship films. Rather than focus on teens, Hughes used this story to take a look at a young married couple played by Kevin Bacon and Elizabeth McGovern.
However, Hughes seemed to apply his teen angst template to this film, with mixed results. While the drama that teenagers go through is of course overwrought and melodramatic, I can appreciate that it’s a formative period in life, and it’s one that most of us look back on sometimes, whether or not the memories are pleasant. The same thing doesn’t apply to a young couple who are annoyed by parents demanding grandchildren, the stress of buying a house, and other things that Hughes portrays here. In those circumstances, Bacon and McGovern’s characters seem whiny and annoying.
In fact, the couple comes across as crappy people who probably shouldn’t have kids because they’ll likely become those parents who make the other parents miserable at PTA meetings and kids’ sporting events. It’s fairly easy to empathize with crappy teenagers because they’re likely going through some personal problems, and they have a chance to grow and change, but grown adults with careers and mortgages need to step up their game a bit.
Like Some Kind of Wonderful, this edition marks She’s Having a Baby’s first time on Blu-ray. The extras are sparse, consisting of just a trailer and Kevin Bacon Interviews John Hughes, which runs just over 24 minutes and features a wide-ranging discussion of not only this film but also other Hughes movies.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★