“16 Candles” (1984)

I probably saw 16 Candles in the theater, as I was 16 when it came out. I do know I watched John Hughes’ genre-changing teen film again and again on VHS and on television. I identified with Molly Ringwald: I was a funny looking redhead with too-short hair and nowhere near the cute clothes she sports in this. I was a little afraid to watch it again after so many years. What if the suck fairy had got into it. My worry wasn’t unwarranted; there were a few things that nagged me. Overall, though, it was what I remembered, a sweet, funny film about a girl whose family is so wrapped up in the upcoming wedding of her older sister they completely forget her sixteenth birthday. I’d never noticed the Jane Austen-ish echoes before, but found them pretty clear this time, with a sensible girl surrounded by crazy relatives. Molly Ringwald is charming and likable as Samantha, Michael Shoeffling smolders sweetly as Jake Ryan, but it’s really Anthony Michael Hall who steals the show. He’s hilarious, both physically and verbally and his presence is what stops this from being too whiny or navel-gazing.

I have to admit to disappointment both with the racial stereotype of Long Duk Dong, and about a morally ambiguous morning after scene, but overall I thought the movie held up well. I still think the scene in front of the church at the end is one of the sweetest, most romantic ones in film. I’ve never understood the women who think Lloyd Dobbler was the perfect guy. Jake Ryan was it, for me, long before I knew the debt he owed to Mr. Darcy.

3 Responses to ““16 Candles” (1984)”

  1. Yeraunt Says:

    Just for the record, it’s Michael Schoeffling. I think you may have mixed him up with Craig Sheffer from ‘Some Kind of Wonderful’.

  2. girldetective Says:

    Thanks; fixed! Funny, they are both from small towns in PA

  3. weirleader Says:

    I think I need to rewatch this one — I stumbled across the end on TV over the holidays and enjoyed the little bit I caught. I agree that AMH does a great job — he is eminently watchable.

    As for Lloyd Dobbler, I can’t speak from the female’s perspective, but he was much more the guy an average bloke like me could aspire to be… so for that I can much more easily identify with him.

    I think Long Duk Dong is absolutely the most painful part of this one. It’s hard to believe that was acceptable — but I’m finding my memory of what was acceptable in the 80s to be surprisingly out-of-whack.