Susannah Gora’s book, “You Couldn’t Ignore Me if You Tried: the Brat Pack, John Hughes and Their Impact on a Generation” reads like a college essay. A good college essay.
If you grew up in the eighties watching films like The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, (or if you didn’t necessarily “grow up” in the eighties but you adore these films and others like it just the same), then this book is definitely for you.
Gora goes into appreciable depth on the backstory of many of the cast and crew involved in making these films. She gives us behind-the-scenes information in large quantities, sating the appetite that so many of us have for watching the shows or reading the books and magazines that provide us the trivia or gossip for which we are looking. Everything is here: relationship drama, fights and disagreements and the inspirations behind some of the greatest cultural milestones. The best part, though, is that Gora provides the details chronologically and in such a way that you know she isn’t assuming you may have heard some of the information before.
Gora explains the relationship between pop culture guru John Hughes and his muse, Molly Ringwald, his buddy, Anthony Michael Hall, amongst many others, and the downfall of them all as well. It was surprising to learn of Hughes’ tendency to shut people out when things did not necessarily go his way. One would think that the man behind the lens on such films as The Breakfast Club or Weird Science would be a bit more happy-go-lucky. This was not the case with Hughes, who had a much lonelier and reclusive side to him that those who worked with him or befriended him got to know quite well.
But aside from John Hughes, Gora got to meat of the life and times of the career-stuntingly titled “Brat Pack” and those who do not occur to us as “members” automatically but came of age, both in careers and life experience, during that time period, such as Eric Stoltz, Lea Thompson and John Cusack. We even learn from Gora how the “Brat Pack” monikor came to be, how Rob Lowe made a huge mistake with a sex tape and what led to the break-up of the engaged Matthew Broderick and Jennifer Grey shortly after the release of Dirty Dancing.
Gora even analyzes the music that helped make these movies so magical and adds in some ditties regarding the careers of Howard Deutch, (director of Some Kind of Wonderful and Pretty in Pink) and Cameron Crowe, (director of Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Say Anything and Almost Famous). She even helps us to understand the origin of some of the other films of that time, such as Less Than Zero, She’s Having a Baby and Weird Science.
We even get the goods on some films that were complete flops when the Brat Pack tried to make it in more adult-type roles, like the Molly Ringwald/Andrew McCarthy “is this Pretty in Pink all over again” flick, Fresh Horses or the less of a flop but unappreciated The Pick-Up Artist with Molly Ringwald and Robert Downey, Jr. (whom, interestingly enough, Ringwald had originally wanted in the role of Blane in Pretty in Pink!).
This book is a quintessential addition to you collection if you want to steep in eighties nostalgia for a brief time. There are some great trivia tidbits in here and documentation of the processes of how each of these movies came to be. Gora leaves nothing out and provides for a fully satisfying experience on which you won’t regret spending your money. If you are a sucker for the eighties, teen movies or even just wel-written essays, you should definitely consider picking up a copy of this book!
Plus, the cover’s just so gosh-darn pretty!
This book is available at the following Long Island locations:
Barnes and Noble
Or you could compare prices here on Amazon.com!