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LIers share memories of 'The Breakfast Club' as it turns 30

"The Breakfast Club" stars (from left) Judd Nelson,

"The Breakfast Club" stars (from left) Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall, whose characters endure a Saturday detention under a power-hungry principal. Credit: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Five teens sit together in a Saturday detention hall, each identifying themselves as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal. Welcome to "The Breakfast Club," the MTV generation classic celebrating its 30th anniversary with a special theatrical re-release on Thursday and March 31.

In 1985, the late writer-director John Hughes ("Sixteen Candles," "Ferris Bueller's Day Off") put out a film that instantly caught the attention of America's youth, with characters from different social circles breaking down barriers and finding common ground.

"Any John Hughes film was a must-see when I was a teenager," says Debbi Spiegel, 44, a stay-at-home mom from St. James. "His films captured the essence of what high school was like."



Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, where the film was set, René Bouchard, 46, of Huntington Station, feels that Hughes had the right approach.

"At the time, we were too cool to admit that we were being understood," says Bouchard, director of development at Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington. "But we were rushing to his films and seeing them over and over again."

Spiegel identified with popular girl Claire Standish, played by Molly Ringwald.

"I was popular, and I still am," says Spiegel, who recently chaired her high school reunion committee. "Claire brought in sushi for lunch. That totally would have been me."

On the other hand, Bouchard saw elements of Judd Nelson's rebel and Ally Sheedy's recluse in herself.

"I was a cross between the John Bender and Allison Reynolds characters," she says. "They were the most disenfranchised and misunderstood, which reflected my background."



Third-grade teacher Andrew Bernstein, 45, of Commack saw the film at the Whitman Theatre in Huntington at age 15 and it taught him a valuable lesson.

"The message is you have to be understanding of people," says Bernstein, who plans on taking his daughters to the re-release. "You assume Andrew Clark (Emilio Estevez) has it all because he's the jock, but you really don't know what goes on behind the scenes."

While teaching film at City College of New York, Campbell Dalglish, 66, of Patchogue has used "The Breakfast Club" as a tool in the classroom.

"When I screen it for my students, we talk about a term called 'Exploding the stereotype.' Judd Nelson's character sparks it off. He doesn't hesitate to call somebody out," says Dalglish, board president of Plaza Cinema and Media Arts Center in Patchogue. "Once you open them up, you'll find a complex human being inside all these characters."

For Bouchard, the key scene was when all five characters collectively smoked marijuana provided by Nelson's Bender.

"It loosened everybody up. It was a social catalyst that bonded them," she says. "Bender drove all the action in the film."

The character of John Bender was very familiar to Robin Stoltz, 59, of Smithtown.

"Bender was like my boyfriend in high school, and I was the female equivalent of him," admits Stoltz, who works as a psychotherapist. "I would get detention just so I could sit in there with him."

Spiegel was excited to show her favorite film to her 16-year-old son, Adam, who had an interesting reaction.

"He said, 'Mom, that would never happen today,' " she says. "When I asked why not, he said, 'Because everybody would just be texting.' "


WHAT "The Breakfast Club"

WHEN | WHERE 7:30 p.m. Thursday and March 31, Farmingdale Multiplex Cinemas, 1001 Broad Hollow Rd.; UA Westbury Stadium 12, 7000 Brush Hollow Rd.; Island 16 Cinema De Lux, 185 Morris Ave., Holtsville; AMC Loews Stony Brook 17, 2196 Nesconset Hwy.; and UA Hampton Bays 5, 119 W. Montauk Hwy.

INFO $12.50-$13.50;

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