We've all done it. Fall in love with a fictional character, I mean. Especially in our teen years while watching specifically "teen" movies looking at our teenage heartthrobs, specially designed to make us swoon all over the place. But looking back, I start to wonder if these guys were really all they were cracked up to be. Were we just blinded by our young love, watching them as teenagers (or sometimes, in my case, a pre-teen), to not see that some of them were actually kind of douchey, or egotistic, or not even that nice at all?
I've decided, just for fun, to do a character assessment on some of the old "classic" teen movies of the past 30 years or so. I call them "Old-School" because if they aren't more than a decade old, they didn't make the cut (sorry, A Walk To Remember).
For this one we are going to focus on some of the memorable gents from the 1980s. Keep in mind that I will only talk about guys in movies that I have actually seen, as I would like to not just be shooting in the dark or following what everyone else says about the character. That could make it slightly biased, but I think we've come to expect that from web-writing, haven't we?
Please, notice that Michael J. Fox (as pictured above) and all the characters he plays is missing from this list, even though we loved him in a lot of 80s classics. Marty McFly? Total babe. Teen Wolf? Okay, maybe not sensitive to his best lady friend "Boof", but you know what? You will not find me assessing his character ever. Ever! Why? Because you even breathe the word "douche," or "unkind," or "smarmy" in reference to the man. That man is precious, and I love him, and say one bad thing about him, and I will climb in your window. And proceed to snatch your people up.
But now, without further ado or digression: A Character Assessment of our Old-School, Fictional boyfriends. Were They Really as Great as We Remember? [1980s Edition]
Daniel Larusso (Ralph Macchio): The Karate Kid (1984)
Oh, don’t look at me like that. You loved him when you were 13 or whatever. Anyways, let’s look at his character. Alright, so it’s pretty awesome that he basically defeated the nazi-esque karate club, which included that blonde bully, using focus, rather than hurting people, and that bully did take things kind of far, but how did the whole thing start? Daniel sprayed him with water and ruined his skeleton makeup on Halloween! Not cool, dude. Plus all those snippy little rifts with Mr. Miyagi, the man that took him in and wasn’t even related? Tisk tisk. Yet, at the same time, we love this young boy, who certainly had a way with the ladies (and certainly could dance)!
Character Grade: 6/10
Jake Ryan (Michael Schoeffling): Sixteen Candles (1984)
Jaaaaaake! Seriously, what a gorgeous gorgeous hunk he was, I would certainly want him just like Molly Ringwald (who apparently everyone in the 80s wanted). And you know what? The guy was actually pretty sweet. I mean, he didn’t really pay attention to Sam until he found out that she would consider having sex with him, which is a bit skeezy, but after that, the boy really put in the effort which goes a long way! He broke up with his girlfriend right away, sort of befriended the nerd to find out about Sam, then showed up at a low moment for her at her sister’s wedding, and even celebrated her forgotten birthday! Thanks for going the extra mile, Jake. That’s really sweet of you, even if it was spurred on by thoughts of sex.
Character Grade: 8.5/10
John Bender (Judd Nelson): The Breakfast Club (1985)
I chose this photo of him lighting a match with his teeth because it might be one of the sexiest things I’ve ever seen. No seriously, it’s that attitude that made us fall in love with John Bender, and squeal with delight when he triumphantly pumped his fist in the air. But when it comes down to it, the boy has some serious issues, and crossed the line saying some things, though some of it, sure, was honest and they needed to hear it. Furthermore, it’s unclear what will happen next with Claire and John but if they did in fact try to pursue a relationship, all that “I don’t believe in one guy/one girl” thing will probably lead to John cheating eventually, and he will likely never think he lives up to Claire’s expectations and wants in a man, since he never has in his home life, and possibly continue his somewhat violent behavior. So I don’t know, I mean a lot of this we can chock up to a bad home life, which makes him a sympathetic character, but at the same time, he has his moments of being a straight up jerk. Thus, I’m a bit conflicted.
Character Grade: 5.5/10
Andrew Clark (Emilio Estevez): The Breakfast Club (1985)
Andrew is another one of the guys you may have fallen for in this movie, based on the different “types” one might be into. And well, I must admit, he was kind of funny at some points, but for the most part, epitomized the persona of a jock being pushed by his father. It was that pushing that led him to his worst act of taping another kid’s butt-cheeks together and ending up in detention, and you can tell that he is really remorseful about it, which makes it a little sad. At the same time, you have to like how he sort of kept looking at the cute basket case all day, and trying to learn about her, make her feel better about her life, but then he only really shows interest once she all of a sudden is “pretty” and basically just changes who she is outside to look more like someone he would want? Nope, not digging that. And what about their relationship too? I mean she said she would be friends with Brian Johnson as she had no friends, but he likely wouldn’t as it wouldn’t fit with his “group” or whatever, so where does that leave her in the middle? How does he introduce her to his friends anyways? These Breakfast Club boys are kind of a mess, aren’t they? We love them despite ourselves, as we are willing to overlook some of their lesser qualities, it seems.
Character Grade: 5.5/10
Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) Say Anything (1989)
Oh Lloyd Dobler, the guy every girl wants standing outside of her window with a boom box. He made that move iconic, stricken with parody, and ruined romantic gestures for every man after him. Lloyd was a sweet guy who stuck it out with Diane while her father was going through troubles and all he wanted was to make her happy and give her support. The thing I hear the most, however, is that Diane didn’t deserve him. Well okay, but that’s who he wanted and he sure put in the effort and gestures to get her. The only thing about him is that all of his female friends really seem to mother him, which I don’t always really find that appealing, and you would almost like to think that he would have been more supportive of his friend Corey after she had such a hard time with her breakup with Joe, rather than befriending him, though as far as boyfriends go, Lloyd really was a great catch for Diane, and everyone else in the 80s.
Character Grade: 9/10
Hm, it looks like Mr. Lloyd Dobler is the winner of this round, though Jake Ryan was pretty close behind.
Oh, who am I kidding? Even with some of those character flaws, I'd still probably hit every one of these guys like a brick wall. Though the older I get, the creepier it makes it when I say that...
Do you think I was too easy on some of them? Or too hard on others? Were there any Teenage Heartthrobs that you were madly in love with back in the 80s, that didn't make it onto my list? Do you feel differently about them now, compared to how you did then?
Like I said, this is just for fun, and soon I will be examining some more from the 1990s and Early 2000s, for no reason whatsoever.