Sixteen Candles (1984) Guest Review

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This review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from Abbi of Where The Wild Things Are. This is the second of four reviews for Sixteen Candles, which is a favorite of mine (you can read my review HERE). Thanks for being a part of this blogathon, Abbi! Let’s see what she thinks of Sixteen Candles. 🙂

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Sixteen Candles (1984)

When Samantha (Molly Ringwald) wakes up on her sixteenth birthday she’s convinced everything is going to change. Unfortunately her entire family has forgotten her birthday and things are only going to get worse at school. There’s a massive geek (Anthony Michael Hall) obsessed with her and Jake (Michael Schoeffling), the already taken boy she likes doesn’t even know she exists. Well not until he finds a sex quiz she’s filled in that says she wants to “do it” with him.

If that wasn’t enough to worry about, Samantha’s sister, Ginny (Blanche Baker) is about to get married and the whole family has descended on them and they haven’t remembered her birthday either.

The only chance Sam has of rescuing the day is by going to the school dance but will she managed to avoid the geek and hook up with Jake?

Sixteen Candles is an absolute eighties teen movie classic, one of the main reasons being that Molly Ringwald is so perfect as Samantha. She is beautiful but in an unconventional, natural way that makes it believable when Jake eventually becomes a bit obsessed with her but also allows girls to identify with her without being intimidated. Her reactions to what happens around her and her tendency to exaggerate and be dramatic are so typical of a sixteen year old girl that even if, like me, you are more than twice that age now it’s easy to see your former self in the character. It doesn’t matter that the film is set before mobile phones, Facebook or #yolo, the struggles that Sam goes through are just relevant now as they were thirty years ago.

Unfortunately some other parts of the film have aged less well though. The way the character of Long Duk Dong (Gedde Watanabe), Samantha’s grandparents’ generically Asian exchange student, is dealt with is so steeped in stereotype that it’s hard not to think of it as racist. There’s also a scene where Jake “comically” gives The Geek his heavily intoxicated girlfriend as a “gift”. This leads to an apparent sexual escapade between The Geek and the girlfriend where consent appears dubious. I suppose one could write this off as being “from a different era” but it’s just sad that this kind of humour was ever funny.

If you can see past these flaws, the Samantha-Jake storyline along with Sam’s interactions with her family, especially her dad are sweet, funny and touching. And the part where her sister decides to take a few muscle relaxants before walking down the aisle is one of my favourite wedding scenes ever.

One of John Hughes’ best. 3.5/5

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It was hard to tell who was more surprised by The Geek’s unexpected bus erection

34 thoughts on “Sixteen Candles (1984) Guest Review

  1. “It was hard to tell who was more surprised by The Geek’s unexpected bus erection”

    Boy do I remember Junior High…. AWKWARD!!!!



  2. Reblogged this on Where The Wild Things Are and commented:
    I’ve been guest blogging again! Check out my review of Sixteen Candles as part of the Cinema Parrot Disco John Hughes blogathon! Thanks again to the lovely Table Nine Mutant for allowing me to participate!

    • Thank YOU again, Abbi! Sorry – I’m two days behind on blog comments! Great review. : ) I know I shouldn’t like Sixteen Candles as much as I do because of some pretty un-PC stuff. But… Well, I still love it. Can’t help it! ; ) I was a bit of a socially awkward Samantha with crushes on boys who didn’t know I existed.

  3. Nice job, Abbi! Gosh it’s been ages since I’ve seen this one. I barely remember anything about it…but now I want to check it out again–for dreamy Jake Ryan if nothing else. 😉

  4. Great review, Abbi. I have always thought this one a bit overrated, precisely because of the sexist and racist humor you cite in the second to last paragraph. Even with those flaws, though, I agree: this is still good. And funny.

    • This one is hilarious! And un-PC now, yes. But then I look at current teen movies and think… Wow, talk about sexist! At least Hughes wrote some decent female teen characters, which is more than can be said for a lot of movies these days. I’m actually really happy that things like The Hunger Games have become so popular so that we’re finally getting some strong female teens. Girls are more than just boobs! : ) (Not saying you think that, Josh! Lol. Just saying in general…) : )

      • I understand. And agree. Completely. In my own reviews, poorly developed female characters is one of the things I most frequently decry and well developed females is one of the things I most frequently praise. And you’re right that many of today’s teen movies don’t bother developing the young women; Hughes had them beat there.

    • It’s a really fun movie and I agree with T9M that a lot of today’s teen movies are just as, if not more, sexist. I think the bit that worries me the most is the potentially non-consensual sex.

  5. Pingback: Miracle On 34th Street (1994) Guest Review | Cinema Parrot Disco

  6. Pingback: Thanks To Everyone Involved With The John Hughes Blogathon | Cinema Parrot Disco

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