It’s nice to know that in 2012 a majority (if not all) of director John Hughes‘ movies still hold up very well, if not stronger than some of the teenage comedies/dramas that come out today. Hughes was a gifted filmmaker that had an eye for capturing that inner teenager in all of us. He understood the high school world unlike any other filmmaker alive and in Sixteen Candles he presents an innocent story about a girl and her birthday and just how much that event can shape that day and the rest of her life.
Samantha Baker (Molly Ringwald) is your everyday high school teenager. She has a crush on one of the more popular boys and she doesn’t stop talking about him to her closest friends. She also has a geek (Anthony Michael Hall) that follows her around all day, constantly begging her for a date or a moment of her attention. Life isn’t horrible for Samantha, but it isn’t nearly as exciting as she’d hope for her sixteen birthday.
Her birthday means a lot to her and it is unfortunately getting blocked out by most of her family due to an important wedding and several grandparents coming to town. All Samantha wants is to live the dream of a sweet sixteen and to get a little extra attention on her birthday, but the world just doesn’t seem to understand that.
John Hughes approaches Sixteen Candles the same way he approaches all of his films and that’s with care and understanding of the importance of those teenage years that we all remember. He never looks down on the youth group and instead becomes one of them as he tells his story with an honest understanding for the everyday dilemmas that goes through a teenagers head. It’s crazy watching a Hughes flick and realizing just how much authenticity he captures in the span of two hours.
He’s always had an eye for talent and casting Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall was a crucial point to making the film really work. Ringwald embodies the misunderstood teenage girl full of angst. She’s charismatic and always fun to watch, because she knows how to translate her inner feelings onto the screen.
Anthony Michael Hall plays The Geek with his usual traits of being cocky, arrogant and mostly clueless. He’s mostly harmless, but sort of creepy in retrospect, but Hughes never plays too much on that and instead channels the innocent intentions of the character. He like Samantha just wants to be understood for who he really is and not for what his friends say about him and it’s that honesty that only Hughes and his skilled young actors can convey.
Sixteen Candles isn’t as strong or as powerful as say The Breakfast Club, but it’s still as important, because it represents a time for films when a mostly-teenage cast didn’t mean poorer quality or a story that only relates to the youngsters of the day. Hughes’ Sixteen Candles is a universal tale to be shared with everyone and it’s not every day that a filmmaker can come out and make a film like Sixteen Candles without adhering too much to stereotypes and watered down plots.
Universal’s 1080p video transfer is plagued with the waxy features that most of their catalog titles get glossed over with. Grain is almost completely scrubbed away in exchange for a soft and smoother appearance. It isn’t the end of the world or anything, but it’s clearly noticeable and does impact the overall picture presentation.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track doesn’t suffer from the same fate, but mostly spends the bulk of the film in the backseat, with very little activity coming out of all of the channels. Dialogue is never a problem, but there’s nothing about this track that makes you feel like you’re listening to an uncompressed mix. The soundtrack carries the film from an audio standpoint and it does help excel the presentation in certain moments.
Sixteen Candles comes to Blu-Ray with the following special features:
- Celebrating Sixteen Candles (SD): A 10 part retrospective documentary that is full of celebrity appearances. This 2008 doc is sort of empty due to the lack of some of the key stars and crew, but it’s still worth a look if only to relive some of the memories from the film.
- 100 Years of Universal: The 80s (HD): A discussion of the 80s and what kind of films the studio was making at that point. It mostly breaks down other popular teen movies like Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Back to the Future and countless other classics.
- 100 Years of Universal: Unforgettable Characters (HD): A wide-ranged look at some of the studios most memorable characters.
- DVD Copy
- Digital Copy
Sixteen Candles still to this day is one of the better coming-of-age films to come out of the 80s. John Hughes’ classic is charming and full of life and something that should be shown to all teenagers (and, well I guess just about everyone) today. The Blu-Ray transfer suffers the same fate as other recent catalog titles, but that still doesn’t hold the title back from being a must own for fans of the filmmaker and fans of great cinema.
This review is based on a copy of the Blu-Ray that we received for reviewing purposes.