The late John Hughes (1950-2009): hit-or-miss filmmaker and genius writer/editor for the National Lampoon.
In the past twenty-four hours I have heard "John Hughes' movies were awesome!" from more people and media sources than I can wrap my head around, especially when considering that his track record was spotty at best, so I gotta weigh in as probably the sole Hughes detractor out there and give my rebuttal. (And for the record, I did not hate the guy.)
Despite his status as king of the "teen flick" genre, Hughes directed only eight movies, each of wildly varying merit, specifically the following:
SIXTEEN CANDLES (a classic for many reasons. "Sexy girlfriend!!!")
THE BREAKFAST CLUB (Saturday in detention with a bunch of douchebags)
WEIRD SCIENCE (perhaps the ultimate male fantasy?)
FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF (the love shown to this movie has perplexed me since day one)
PLANES, TRAINS & AUTOMOBILES (one of the worst movies I've ever seen!)
SHE'S HAVING A BABY (a virtually forgotten and underrated gem about impending parenthood from the male perspective)
UNCLE BUCK (awful, except for a great turn by Macaulay Culkin)
CURLY SUE (execrable)
While his directorial output was sparse, the guy wrote a hell of a lot of crap. Among the legion of mediocre/bad movies he wrote can be counted the following major offenders:
BABY'S DAY OUT
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CLASS REUNION
HOME ALONE 1-3
SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL
DENNIS THE MENACE
PRETTY IN PINK
And several others.
I think people are enshrining his movies for two reasons:
1. They were pretty much the only '80's movies about teenagers that sprang from a singular voice and sensibility, and when he got it right it could be brilliant.
2. A lot of people saw his films at an impressionable age and therefore view them with a nostalgia that renders the films immune to objective critique. I have a great love for THUNDERBIRD 6, so I totally understand this phenomenon.
I and many others were fortunate to find Hughes' work years before his movies, in my case thanks to my parents unwisely thinking National Lampoon was just another harmless MAD knockoff, and in those pages I met the very sick and twisted John Hughes, a writer of talents that in almost no way could been seen as evolving into those of the future Hollywood force he became. His short story "Vacation '58" formed the clay from which the VACATION movie franchise sprang, "Halloween Rampage" was a realistic and hilarious chronicle of the shit kids get up to on Mischief Night and Halloween itself, and "How I Learned to Lie" is a terrific tale of the bad influence of one kid's grandfather. But Hughes' greatest National Lampoon contributions were without question the totally sick gender reversal stories "My Penis" and "My Vagina;" the former was one teenage girl's account of her adventures after awakening to find her genitalia replaced with a massive cock that she later muscles her asshole boyfriend into deep-throating (leaving him convinced he's now a fag), while the latter took the same tack with a teenage boy but elevated it to outrageous extremes, culminating in an absurd (and thankfully off-camera) gang rape when his newly-female status is discovered by his drunken friends during an attempt at mooning the Burger King drive-through window, eventually resulting in the protagonist having to spend the money he'd been saving for a bitchin' pair of skis on an abortion. Truly twisted, quite disturbing, and wonderful in its ill creativity.
That's the John Hughes I mourn, not the guy who made movies.