Brat Pack Movies and Music Collection, The

That film, along with Hughes’s subsequent directorial efforts “The Breakfast Club” and “Weird Science,” have been bundled together yet again in “The Brat Pack Movies and Music Collection.” What makes this collection different from 2003’s “High School Reunion Collection” is the cutesy packaging (created to look like the ubiquitous blue three-ring binders many of us who went to high school when these films came out carried around) and its bonus “Brat Pack” bonus CD featuring eight songs from various Hughes movies, including “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and “Some Kind of Wonderful” (which are not included in this set because they were made for another studio). The inside covers include a short synopsis of the three films and a too-brief pop quiz of the films, which should be easy even for those who have only seen them once.

Released in theatres in May of 1984, “Sixteen Candles” tells the nightmarish tale of a young girl entering into womanhood unnoticed while her family deals with the impending nuptials of her older sister, and the even more frightening prospect of one’s crush not knowing of your existence while being aggressively pursued by a Farmer Ted. A mild hit upon its initial release, “Sixteen Candles” helped launch Hughes and his muse Molly Ringwald into the cultural zeitgeist and remains the strongest movie of this group.

Nine months later, Hughes released “The Breakfast Club,” the Brat Pack movie that made his reputation as the spokesperson for Generation X. The simple tale of five different high school stereotypes (the Jock, the Princess, the Brain, the Criminal and the Basket Case) who break down their barriers while trapped in Saturday detention, the film made stars out of all five lead performers and turned Simple Minds into temporary music gods with the help of the massive radio hit “Don’t You (Forget About Me).”

The weakest film in the set, then and now, remains “Weird Science.” Arriving less than six months after “The Breakfast Club,” “Weird Science” was a more ambitious film for Hughes, bringing in special effects and a touch of science fiction to tell the tale of two high school losers who find acceptance amongst their peers when they accidentally create the perfect woman. Today, the film is more interesting in its early looks at future stars Robert Downey Jr. and Bill Paxton than for anything in the film itself.

Like their individual DVDs, this collection is lean on the bonus features. No commentaries by Hughes or any of the cast members, no behind the scenes featurettes and no “Where Are They Nowr” segments. In fact, these DVDs are exactly the same as the individual DVDs which were released under the High School Reunion Collection banner in September 2003. All three disks include the same unskippable triple commercial for the High School Reunion Collection, “Animal House” and “Monty Python and the Meaning of Life” (the latter two which were also being released around the same time), the same “recommendations” (often featuring at least one of the other two Brat Pack films) and the same “special feature” of a theatrical trailer on “The Breakfast Club” and “Weird Science.” That the producers of the DVD could not even be bothered to put the trailer for “Sixteen Candles” on that disc is still a mystery.

All three films are presented in 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen with the option of 5.1 Dolby Digital or DTS Digital mixes or 2.0 Dolby Digital mix in Spanish, English captions and French and Spanish subtitles. Both the sound and picture transfers are adequate at best, considering the age of the original elements and the industry-wide lack of proper archiving in the pre-DVD days. Negative dirt and scratches can be made out on all three films, with noticeable grain during the night scenes of “Sixteen Candles” and “Weird Science.” The sound mixes are all satisfactory, with no one element overpowering any other.

If you have yet to purchase any previous release of these three films or the High School Reunion Collection, this Movies and Music Collection is a good addition to your collection. If you are like me, and already upgraded our older editions of “Sixteen Candles” and “The Breakfast Club” to the 2003 releases, there is no need to upgrade to this edition, unless you really need the music disc with your old new wave favorites.

Final Grades: “Sixteen Candles” still gets an A, “The Breakfast Club” a B+ and “Weird Science” a D. The collective bonus features receive a D- for a general lack of inclusion of truly bonus features, while the sound and picture qualities all receive a B.

To learn more about this collection, visit the Universal Studios Home Video website.

Rating: B
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