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Sixteen Candles (1984)

  Directed by: John Hughes
Written by: John Hughes
Starring: Anthony Michael Hall, Molly Ringwald, Michael Schoeffling, Gedde Watanabe
Links: Sixteen Candles on the IMDb, Buy on DVD, Buy on Video
Genre: Comedy

This movie gets: 9.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

Sixteen Candles (1984) is also mentioned in mino's review of Crazy/Beautiful and andy-j's review of Weird Science (1985).

"Takes the (sixteenth birthday) cake" - a review by andy-j

Samantha Baker (Molly Ringwald) is turning sweet sixteen, but instead of it being the most important and life-changing event of her life, her birthday is completely overlooked by her family, who are too busy preparing for her sister's wedding. In addition to the forgotten birthday and wedding chaos, Sam has to deal with fending off a geek's persistent advances, the huge crush she has on hunky Jake Ryan (who not only has a beautiful girlfriend, but doesn't even know Samantha exists), her grandparents taking over her room, and Long Duk Dong, a dorky but crazy exchange student.

Sixteen Candles is a film that is pretty heavily dated, but has enough charm and quirkyness to remain timeless. Unlike the overly-serious The Breakfast Club (1985), writer / director John Hughes has gone for zany comedy, and the resulting laughs, coupled with the humour and occasional cringe-factor that comes from looking back at the 80s, delivers comedy gold. Just about everyone except Sam is exaggerated and whacko - Farmer Ted, Long Duk Dong, and both sets of Samantha's grandparents are examples. The script encourages it, giving the actors a chance to really ham it up. Anthony Michael Hall, who plays Farmer Ted, is particularly great - for someone so young (at the time), his natural sense of timing is remarkable, and he absolutely steals every scene his character appears in. Gedde Watanabe, who plays Long Duk Dong, makes the most of his character's unexpected transformation from well-behaved exchange student into an insane party animal.

As well as some great characters, Sixteen Candles contains some absolutely classic lines and scenes. I still quote Grandpa: "well you don't SPELL it son, you EAT it!" at every available opportunity. The comedy is often surprisingly sophisticated, which is part of the reason it stands up so well today. There are plenty of subtle gags that mightn't catch your attention at first, as well as some jokes that were obviously refined over time to be tight and effective, and characters with truly hilarious quirks. What is it with Long Duk Dong and Lumberjack's sudden mixing of physical attraction with exercise equipment? Like I said, truly hilarious.

Sixteen Candles does have a couple of smmall faults though, the most obvious being that it often just tries too hard to appeal to teenagers. Some of the lines that the characters come out with really make you cringe. You have to wonder if, at the time, the target audience thought the whole thing was cool, or if they found it as embarassing as people might find it today. The other problem is that some of the acting, is, at times, terrible. It's usually Molly Ringwald, but I'm thinking that this is more caused by inconsistent direction rather than Ringwald herself. Watch her reaction to her grandparents suggesting she take Long Duk Dong to the dance, for example.

Still, these things are really quite minor, and, if anything, they probably add to the film's overall appeal. Sixteen Candles is a delight. It is cute, very funny, slighty nutty, and very watchable.

andy-j gives this movie 9 out of 10.
Review created on Wed 20 Jul 2005

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Reader comments

  1. Whooo!!! I misspelt the word 'small' and I'm never going to change it!

    A comment from nofreelist's own andy-j on Wed 20 Jul 2005 01:16 #

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