Allison Reynolds, portrayed by Ally Sheedy, in The Breakfast Club
Editor’s Note: The Breakfast Club is playing in some DC movie theaters tomorrow in a restored print for its 30th anniversary. Neal Keller, DJ at the long-running 80s Dance Party, recently caught the screening, and he was compelled to share some thoughts on it, inspired by a documentary featurette that runs before the film. Keep up with Neal and the 80s Dance Party on Facebook. And stay tuned for the next 80s Dance Party, monthly at Tropicalia (2001 14th St. NW, DC).
Did Allison Sell Out?
Allison is one of the essential cinematic Goth Chicks of the 1980s. If you don’t know her, it might be because she likes it that way. She is one of five high school kids “forced to sacrifice her Saturday to detention” in the John Hughes movie “The Breakfast Club.” Draped in black clothing, beneath thick dark bangs and blackened eyes, she is determined to be ignored. And for the first part of the film, she more or less succeeds.
Unfortunately, her best efforts at going unnoticed are undermined by her subconscious longing to be noticed. The film originally came out in 1985, and in the many times I’ve seen it since, I never noticed her very much — at least not before my latest screening of it. At a recent theatrical reissue held to mark the 30th anniversary of the movie’s release, I found myself spending much more time focused on her character. This was prompted in no small part by a featurette that preceded the screening, in which the cast and guests offered their perspectives about the work 30 years later.
Filmmaker Diablo Cody (best known as the writer of “Juno”) accused Allison (played by Ally Sheedy) of “selling out” by the end of the film when she transforms from gloomy caterpillar to radiant butterfly at the film’s climax. I mean, no self-respecting Goth Chick would give up her black eyeliner, ESPECIALLY in order to *gasp* catch the eye of the star athlete, would she?! Did Allison allow Claire (played by Molly Ringwald) to recreate her image just to get his attention?
My 20-year-old self would say — did say: “SELL OUT!” But my 50-year-old self started to see it differently as I watched the film again, and pondered the question anew. I was surrounded by my current peer group at this anniversary screening, most of whom are about the same age. I suspect I wasn’t the only one wondering if I too had sold out, which proves that the film is still striking a nerve deep within us after three decades.
Of all of the films John Hughes created, this is the necessary one.