If you take a trip to Shermer, Illinois, you are bound to get lost like Jay and Silent Bob. Mostly because, there is no Shermer, Illinois. The fictional town, just outside of the very real Chicago, Illinois was the backdrop for many, not all, but many of Hughes films. John Hughes did something in the 80s’ that many have never been able to do, he gave every adolescent a voice. He spoke for the brain, the athlete, the basket case, the princess, and the criminal. He let us know it was okay to be us, to be weird and different. He showed us we we’re not alone. Hughes believed that even though life may be hard when we are adults, the struggles of the teenage years are real. To honor the film lord, here is a ranking of his top 20 movies, worst to best. Since it is so hard to rate some of these films, I will be using IMDB scores to determine where each film lands, with a little of my own judgement when needed.
101 Dalmatians (1996) Score: 5.7
This is a perfect example why I am going with the IMDB score and not my own, I would have placed this movie higher on the list. In reality, it is not that bad of a film. Yes, there are some issues, but ultimate when the film came out, I was the perfect age and didn’t mind the issues.
Career Opportunities (1991) Score: 5.9
Frank Whaley and Jennifer Connelly play an unlikely pair who hit it off one night while they are both working at Target. As their relationship grows, they decide to run away together, but two screw up crooks decide to rob the target and things go a little off the wall. A lesser-known Hughes film but still worth a once through.
Curly Sue (1991) Score: 5.9
Jim Belushi and Alisan Porter actually pull this movie off. Nothing says “hit movie” like a homeless guy and his homeless friend, who happens to be a little girl. It may be high on this list, but that’s because of the competition here. It is worth a viewing.
She’s Having a Baby (1988) Score: 5.9
Kevin Bacon in the late 80s’, of course this is going to be a cool flick! I am a little surprised more people do not talk about this movie. It has been said that much of the film was written from the personal experiences of Hughes and his wife. Unfortunately, many people did not like the film and the reviews are mixed and divided. However, I think it is a great movie and even Kevin Smith says it is his favorite Hughes movie and was the inspiration for Jersey Girl.
Baby’s Day Out (1994) Score: 6.2
Here’s the premises, there is a baby, and he decides to take a day out. That is basically what this film is. Well, there is also some guys who are wanting to hold the baby ransom, if they could just get their hands on him! There are many who claim this is a fantastic film now and it has become a cult classic despite its bomb in the box office. I wouldn’t call it a fantastic film, and it is not a movie that feels like Hughes, but it was fun to watch.
Dutch (1991) Score: 6.5
I will forever be an Ed O’Neil fan. I grew up watching Married with Children, but Dutch is, in my opinion, an easily forgettable movie. It’s not that it is a bad film really, it just isn’t a stand-out film.
Mr. Mom (1983) Score: 6.6
Here is where we really start getting into my favorite John Hughes films. From here on out, (with an exception or two) all of these films would be an 8 or hirer in my book. But we are not going by my scores. Mr. Mom is a hilarious story about a laid off dad becoming the main stay-at-home parent.
The Great Outdoors (1988) Score: 6.7
There are so many wonderful moments in this movie! From beginning to end it is a hilarious ride of two families taking a vacation together. Dan Aykroyd and John Candy work so well together and this movie proves that!
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992) Score: 6.8
It’s hard for a sequel to meet the expectations of the first film, but really this is still a decent movie with some fun scenes. I wouldn’t say this is a better movie than Mr. Mom or The Great Outdoors however, but that’s just me.
Pretty in Pink (1986) Score: 6.8
For many, this should be in the number one spot. I wouldn’t place it there myself, but it was a little surprising to me that it had this low of a score. Like a lot of these films, Pretty in Pink may not have aged well, but it is a classic that deserves its place on this list. The original ending was that Andie and Duckie end up together, but test audiences were not satisfied, and the studio changed it and Hughes was never happy with that choice.
Weird Science (1985) Score: 6.8
Another film that may not have aged very well, Weird Science is a fun flick that I often times look back on and laugh at just the memories. Bill Paxton turning into a giant pile of poop is still one of the most hideously hilarious things I have ever seen.
Uncle Buck (1989) Score: 7.0
John Candy flipping giant pancakes for a sweet little Macaulay Culkin is only one of the awesome scenes in this movie. Candy was almost not cast in this role and there was a HUGE list of actors being considered including, Danny DeVito, Tom Cruise, Robin Williams, Tom Hanks, Jack Nicholson, John Travolta, Michael Keaton, Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, John Goodman, Ed O’Neil, and even Joe Pesci. How different would this movie have been if ANY of these actors would have taken the lead role!?
Some Kind of Wonderful (1987) Score: 7.1
Don’t get me wrong, this is a great movie and I honestly love Eric Stoltz and Lea Thompson, but I was surprised it scored this high on the list. It’s just that you do not hear a lot of people talk about this movie. Most movies that Hughes dealt with high school teens going through life, became hits. This is no different.
Sixteen Candles (1984) Score: 7.1
Proving again that a coming-of-age story penned by Hughes has the potential to grow into a classic, Sixteen Candles takes place in 1984 and centers around Samantha Baker on her sixteenth birthday. Unfortunately, no one remembers her birthday. Hughes paints a vivid picture of feeling unnoticed and unwanted as a teenager in this film.
National Lampoons: Vacation (1983) Score: 7.4
When director Harold Ramis and screen writer John Hughes gets together, magic happens. Vacation is, in my opinion, the best road comedy film ever made. Chevy Chase alongside Beverly D’Angelo make this a non-stop giggle fest.
Home Alone (1990) Score: 7.6
For any kid who grew up in the late 80s’ and early 90s’, this film made us WANT someone to break into our house. I knew without a doubt that if someone broke in, I could protect my family with some MICRO-Machines and a B.B gun.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987) Score: 7.6
Steve Martin and John Candy go together like John Candy and Dan Aykroyd. This movie puts two people who are completely different in the same situation and force them to work together. This is not only a comedy but has some depth to it as well in regard to how we see and treat people and what pain strangers carry around with them every day.
National Lampoons: Christmas Vacation (1989) Score: 7.6
Vacation is a classic film, but Christmas Vacation is one of the best Christmas movies ever made. Watched year after year by thousands of fans, this is possibly the most quoted film on the list. Just a man who wants his family to have a great Christmas, Clark slowly unravels and has a complete breakdown as the film goes on. I agree with the number one spot on the list, but this is my favorite Hughes movie.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) Score: 7.8
A toss up for the number one spot, I ultimately placed this movie in the second place because the number one film ticks more boxes. Having said that, the fandom that surrounds this movie surpasses generations. I still see high school kids wearing “Save Ferris” shirts. Many of these fans, have no idea there is a ska band of the same name.
The Breakfast Club (1985) 7.8
The number one spot goes to possibly the best teenage angst film ever made. Breakfast Club has something for every type of teen, and really does a spot-on job of showing them that they are not alone, and it is okay for them to be weird or stand out from the crowd. This is the go-to 80s’ film and one that I feel deserves to be put on any “best of” list when it comes to teen dramas.
Written exclusively for TheLastPicture.Show by Jacob Ruble
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