Talksheet: The Breakfast Club

©1985, written by John Hughes

Note to leaders: This movie is rated R. Please be sure you provide parents ample time to sign a permission form. There is some foul language, awkward conversation and drug references. The movie is 1 hour and 37 minutes. Since it is an older movie, it is slower by today’s standards. You may want to post questions for teens to think about during the movie to try to help them stay engaged. Movie synopsis according to Wikipedia.

Before you begin the movie, ask students:

  • What are the different cliques at school?
  • Would you consider these cliques stereotypes?
  • Are you, personally, defined by your friends?

Questions to consider during the movie:

  • Pay attention to how each character is developed. How do they arrive at detention? Why are they in detention? What about their clothing styles? What are they wearing? Where do they sit? How do they speak? What do they eat? What about their behavior towards one another? How does that behavior change?
  • By the end, do you think they’ve become “friends?” What happens throughout the film that helps them bond with one another?
  • How are adults, teachers, principals and parents, depicted?

Discussion Questions

  • Beginning quote from “Changes” by David Bowie (written in 1971):

“And these children that you spit on as they try to change their worlds

are immune to your consultations, they’re quite aware of what they’re going through.”

  • What does this mean?
  • Do you think adults forget what it is like being a teenager? How so?
  • Why do they forget so quickly?

Main characters:

Claire (Molly Ringwald) – the princess

Andy (Emilio Estevez) – the athlete

Bender (Judd Nelson) – the criminal

Brian (Anthony Michael Hall) – the brain

Allison (Ally Sheedy) – the basket case 

  • How are the characters established in the beginning?
  • How are they similar/different from students in your school?
  • Do you think the stereotypes used in The Breakfast Club are relevant today? 
  • If these characters were in your school, what people groups would they be a part of?
  • We see immediately that they are not all (except for Claire and Andy) friends. Do you think where they sit is significant?

The essay they are asked to write is “Who do you think you are?”

  • Is that an easy question for a teen like you to answer? Why/why not?
  • Changing the intonation of your voice while asking that question can change the meaning. How do you think Assistant Principal Vernon meant it?

We learn early on about Bender’s homelife and eventually everyone shares. What about their stories stood out to you?

  • Is this realistic today?
  • How much of an impact do parents, teachers, youth leaders, coaches, have on your life?
  • Do you think how we treat one another is a reflection of how things are at home?
  • How can realizing this help us understand one another?

The Breakfast Club is rated R (17+), mostly due to inappropriate or foul language and one scene involving drugs.

  • What was your reaction to the language?
  • Did it bother you? How so/not so?
  • Why do you think the producers decided to allow foul language to be a part of the movie, knowing that most teens would not be able to watch it due to its R rating? What about the drug use in the movie? Is that an issue at your school?

Andy says, “We are all bizarre, some of us are just better at hiding it.” Then they all share their weird talents.

  • Do you think they would have been willing to break down their walls in this scene if Allison had said this? Why or why not?
  • Do you believe that we are all bizarre?
  • Why do we hide this part of us?
  • Where do you NOT hide your bizarre side?

One of the breaking points is when the group discusses the pressure in their lives.

  • What were their individual pressures they experienced?
  • Do you think everyone feels pressure? How so?
  • How do you personally deal with the pressure in your life? (anxiety, stress, etc.)
  • How does it help knowing that your peers struggle, too?
  • How can you help your friends and classmates when they are overcome with pressure (home life, academic, athletic, etc.)

What do you think happened Monday morning? Did they remain friends?

Do you think they would have ever interacted in any other circumstance?

How would this story play out today?

Lastly, What are some themes in the movie? Make a list. Discuss. Do you think these themes are relevant today? How so?

If we added a Christian student to the Breakfast Club, how would they interact? How would the story play out? What if one of the characters was a minority?

God created us each in His image (Genesis 1:27). How are you a reflection of God’s image?

  • How do you see the princess, the athlete, the brain, the criminal or the basket case as a reflection of God?
  • Read Psalm 82:6 & 1 John 3:1. How might our actions towards people shift if we started looking at others as Children of God, created in His loving image?

Famous Quotes to Discuss

  • “I hate having to go along with everything my friends say.” -Claire
  • “You ought to spend a little more trying to do something with yourself and a little less trying to impress people.” Mr. Vernon
  • “I could disappear forever and it wouldn’t make any difference.” -Bender
  • “My god, are we gonna be like our parents?” -Andy
  • “If you get along with your parents, you’re a liar.” -Bender
  • “Kids haven’t changed, you have.” -Carl, the janitor (speaking to Mr. Vernon)
  • “When you grow up, your heart dies.” -Allison
  • “Screws fall out all the time. The world’s an imperfect place.” -Bender
  • “We’re all bizarre. Some of us are better at hiding it, that’s all.” -Andy
  • “Dear Mr. Vernon, We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice the whole Saturday in detention for whatever we did wrong. But we think you are crazy for making us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us, in the simplest of terms and the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain, and an athlete and a basket case, a princess and a criminal. Does that answer your question? Sincerely, The Breakfast Club.”

Final Challenge/Activity:

  • Have students think about how they would answer the question, “Who do you think you are?” Come back together next week and have them creatively express their answers. You may have them write an essay, a poem, paint or do a collage. Have them share with one another.

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