Sixteen Candles (1984)
John Hughes' directorial debut is a seemingly lightweight teen-comedy about unrequited infatuations, high-schoolers fitting into stereotypical classifications and the inevitable alienation you feel from your parents and family as puberty hits in. Hughes treats a lot of his script as a clear-cut comedy, directing several scenes almost as gags, and there are lots of stereotypes among the supporting characters, whose revelling in their socially constructed personas presents an interesting observation by Hughes; this is one (valid) way to hide your insecurities and real self, he claims. He would discuss this concept in more detail in The Breakfast Club a year later. Still, what elevates Sixteen Candles to something real and timeless, is that out of what may at first seem like archetypes emerges a couple of three-dimensional human beings (Sam and Ted) with big, idiosyncratic personalities, and with a budding notion of what life may bring outside the confines of high school. Sixteen Candles remains a fun watch today, and Hughes also had the nerve to throw controversy into the mix with a segment involving the characters Ted and Caroline which is perfectly ambiguous and dubious. People and situations aren't always like they seem at first, says Hughes sensibly. And a brilliantly sensitive Molly Ringwald and a confident Anthony Michael Hall certainly helped him get that message across.