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Life couldn't get any worse for teenager Samantha Baker (Molly Ringwald). She's in love with preppy high school senior Jake (Michael Schoeffling) who doesn't know she exists, she's the obsession of a young geek (Anthony Michael Hall), her sister is about to be married, and her grandparents have taken over her room and are making her take foreign exchange student Long Duc Dong (Gedde Watanabe) to her school dance. And to top it off her family have forgotten her birthday. Her sixteenth birthday!

Review by Craig Miller:
Let's face it, very little says 1980s more than calculator watches, Alf and John Hughes films and this one film, the directing debut gem from the talented American filmmaker, just about sums up his whole career: funny, meaningful and real.

Having made a name for himself in comedy writing circles at the time - Hughes had written the very funny National Lampoon's Vacation and the Michael Keaton comedy drama Mr. Mum just prior - this was the first time he was able to write and direct his own work which, as it turned out, was a great result for the film and for Hughes himself. (Hughes' next feature was to be the cult favourite The Breakfast Club, which was actually written before Candles, but studio heads wanted him to prove himself first.)

Today, the comedy may be showing its age a little with some borderline jokes and out-dated philosophies on ethnic cultures, but overall the comic wit and abundance of slapstick gags keep the pace of the film racing along. It's electric.

The now typical teen comedy set pieces like the school dance, the crazy house-trashing party and the girl-gets-boy scenes are wonderfully realised here, and the cameos from a couple of Cusacks, John and Joan, are a lot of fun too.

Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall show some terrific comedic acting chops with fine performances and, while they both did go on to other things, (some crap, some more crap) their work here and their contributions on Hughes' other projects were their golden times. Hall in particular had a real knack for comedy in his younger days and it's a shame his future roles, outside Hughes' guidance, didn't give him more opportunity to develop.

Also worthy of note is Candles' very tidy soundtrack which features some classic '80s pop tunes which accentuate the film's action perfectly, everything from mad rocker Billy Idol's Rebel Yell, Turning Japanese by The Vapours and David Bowie's Young Americans. To quote a popular commercial radioism, it's all killer no filler!

Which, coincidentally enough, sums up the rest of the picture too!

(Sixteen Candles is currently only available in the John Hughes '80's collection three-disc set along with The Breakfast Club and Weird Science)

Published October 13, 2005

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(US, 1984)

CAST: Molly Ringwald, Justin Henry, Anthony Michael Hall, Michael Schoeffling, Gette Watanabe, Jon Cusack

DIRECTOR: John Hughes

SCRIPT: John Hughes

RUNNING TIME: 89 minutes

PRESENTATION: Widescreen 1.85:1, DTS, Dolby Digital 5.1


DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Universal Pictures

DVD RELEASE: September 21, 2005

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