The new 'Breakfast Club'?

Americanteen_l If this image looks eerily similar to a movie poster from a simpler, neo-maxi-zoom-dweebier time, it’s not by accident. Paramount Vantage has co-opted the iconic image from John Hughes’ 1985 classic The Breakfast Club to create the teaser poster for its upcoming summer documentary American Teen. Drawing a connection between the two films isn’t just clever marketing. Set at Warsaw Community High School in Warsaw, Indiana, American Teen chronicles a year in the lives of five very distinct high-school seniors. And just like The Breakfast Club, the doc, which caused a sensation this year at the Sundance Film Festival, examines a brain, a beauty, a jock, a rebel and a recluse, but then delves deeper, revealing these real kids to be far more than superficial stereotypes.

It may seem odd to compare a documentary to a feature film, but American Teen writer-director Nanette Burstein (The Kid Stays in the Picture) saw the connection long before Vantage whipped up this poster. “Breakfast Club is one of the few teen fiction films that actually address all those teen storylines: popular girls ruling the school, the Romeo and Juliet love-story, the nerdy kid looking for acceptance,” Burstein says. “I didn’t consciously think about that when I was shooting the movie but afterwards, I realized the similarities.”

Vantage is hoping viewers will, too, and that this poster will help generate buzz that will continue to build before the film is released July 25. “I think it’s really tough for people to look at a documentary and think of it as a film,” says Guy Endore-Kaiser, co-president of marketing for Vantage, which bought the doc for $1 million. “This poster instantly puts it into the space of a movie, not just a documentary. The dream is for people to start referring to American Teen as the real-life version of The Breakfast Club.”

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  • anon

    I always find things like this problematic especially since this country is diverse. Do these kids represent the average American teenager? What is American teenager? I feel like this story has been told over and over again.

  • Lynn

    Anon, I agree with you. The film doesn’t address diversity at all. I can only hope that someone takes more time with this subject next time. Something I find disturbing is that there seems to be hatred toward overweight kids and people than ever. This is getting a little off topic but if you watch G4TV’s Attack of the Show they are constantly making hateful statements about overweight people. This documentary doesn’t appear address complexity of race, ethnicity, body type, etc. I wonder if it even touches on classism, something that nobody is willing to really explore.

  • Harvard

    I have seen this film – don’t be fooled by a story that seems repetitive because oddly enough, it’s one that has never been told – at least not on a level like this.

  • Bosephus5000

    Wow Lynn, maybe you should see the film before you start blindly spewing nonsense.

  • JenJen

    Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of diversity in some midwestern high schools. Maybe this documentary is reflective of what is true for this town (and many midwestern towns like it), and wasn’t meant to be reflective of America as a whole.

  • Nance

    Didn’t “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” already accomplish this?

  • Hughes Chick

    If I remember correctly, all the John Hughes teen flicks had nary a minority face in them [with the exception of slamdunk stereotypes like Long Duc Dong]. I went to a public high school where there was plenty of “diversity” as well as surprise pot locker checks, actual fist fights and hair pulling done by girls with names like Aisha, September and Syleesha. There were the Asian math clubs, the Latino clubs…but this was after I moved out of a predominately white area and I would go to school with two or three black kids out of 500…so the poster seems like a misrepresentation of American adolescence [or the very least wishful thinking] but in some areas it is probably not.

  • Mike

    It’s not just Midwestern towns where there isn’t any diversity. I went to high school in upstate NY (near Syracuse), and my graduating class had 1 black kid, 0 latinos, and as far as I know, 0 Jews. Honestly. When my friends and I went to college, we all came back with the same comment: “So…Jewish people actually exist, huh?”

  • Kim

    This is what I remember my suburban high school to look like back in the 80’s… Maybe my youth was not the norm?

  • Ex-Teen Myself

    Small-town Virginia did not look like this in the 1980s — we had two races. Suburban Atlanta pretty much did look like this in 1984.

  • PNT

    You all should read Jonathan Kozol’s book The Shame of the Nation The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America. American schools are not diverse and actually may even be more segregated now than 40 years ago.

  • Tracey

    Wow. They’re all white. How diverse (exaggerated eye roll.

  • NYClubber

    Sorry, but to make this the poster for this docu is an INSULT to John Hughes and the Original movie. I was 17 when the film came out and it made a huge impact on a lot of us. Exploiting this classic film to generate intrerst into a docu about some spoiled kids is a travesty. Shame!

  • Mozz

    A bunch of white teenage with problems. I’ll just watch the Iconic movie instead, at least then i can pretend that the lack of diversity was due to the 80’s.

  • Anonymous

    PNT, regarding Jonathan Kozol’s book, you should really check out this clip:

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