Logline: Infatuated with a popular senior, high school sophomore Samantha Baker struggles to get through her sixteenth birthday, which her entire family has forgotten.
Review: John Hughes understood adolescents. His directorial debut, Sixteen Candles is one of the most honest, genuine depictions of high school teenagers to have ever graced the silver screen.
Sixteen Candles has ingredients found in most teen comedies: the love triangle, the high school dance, and the party that gets out of control. What separates the film from most teen comedies, though is the way it treats its characters. We hear the characters’ anxieties in a non-condescending manner. The dialogue is well-written and authentic. Samantha Baker, played beautifully by Molly Ringwald, is the film’s center. Anthony Michael Hall is Ted, a forward geek vying for Sam’s affection. Michael Schoeffling is Jake Ryan, Sam’s love interest and the male ideal. He is handsome and popular but not one-dimensional. This is particularly evident in a tender scene between he and Ted after the party.
Sixteen Candles is also a family drama. Sam’s older sister, Ginny is getting married. The grandparents move in to the chaotic home before the approaching ceremony, providing a lot of the film’s humor. Sixteen Candles is very funny from the opening sequence depicting a morning in the Baker home to the wedding in the film’s climax in which Ginny, high from taking too many muscle relaxers, struggles to walk to the altar. It is a hilarious send-off before the film’s final touching moments.
Sixteen Candles has a great soundtrack that places it firmly in the 1980s. Highlights include Spandau Ballet’s True and Thompson Twins’ If You Were Here.
Sixteen Candles has the perfect mix of comedy and drama. It is a touching coming of age film that perfectly encapsulates the awkwardness of being a teenager, something to which anyone can relate.
Rating (out of ****): ***1/2