Don't You Forget About Me

By Christopher Redmond

Mailed on December 07, 2012

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Dear John Hughes
In Memory Of

Dear John,

Ironic, isn't it? A film that's all about you, and one that you clearly wanted nothing to do with, is also dedicating itself to you posthumously. I'm sure the filmmakers' intentions were pure. But the delivery is so clumsily executed. That's the problem with Don't You Forget About Me - a fanboy and fangirl documentary that certainly wasn't worthy of your presence. In fact, after shunning Hollywood and the media for so long, I would have almost been insulted if you broke your self-imposed exile for this film. But now you're gone for good, and this stalker-doc about you may be the best we get.

You can't blame them or anyone else for being curious about your personal story. After essentially writing the book on how to make a teen movie, you packed up to Chicago and seemed to disappear. Your filmmaking resume, which includes The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles _and _Ferris Bueller's Day Off, is the envy of a generation. Your talent as a writer seemed unstoppable, penning classics from Christmas Vacation to Home Alone. But one day, somehow, you simply had enough. Not necessarily of the work itself (as you continued to write successful family films under the pseudonym Edmond Dantes), but obviously with the people, the business and the attention.

That of course, didn't stop a van full of Canucks from trying to get some face time with you. This film was made with the aspirations of Roger and Me, but the results don't pass the low of Where in the World is Osama bin Laden? And it's not just your absence that hurts the final product (see a great documentary like Kubrick: A Life in Pictures for proof that one can succeed without its subject's involvement). Only secondary actors that appeared in your films make it into this picture. Each actor probably felt shanghaied at the time, evidenced by the poorly lit, poorly recorded handicam quality of the interviews. Still, these moments are the only lifeblood in the film (especially a heartfelt moment by Judd Nelson). A few Hollywood directors you influenced also give their commentary on your work, notably the always-on Kevin Smith and Juno director Jason Reitman. But they never knew you, and so their inclusion adds no real substance.

Worst of all, the film stops dead whenever the journey to find you it is featured. Crossing the border from Canada to the U.S., for example, is a painfully inauthentic dramatic moment. Constant ramblings by those on the journey about your films also simply feel like filler to stretch the runtime into a feature film. Forget about your stance against doing media interviews, your sensibilities as a filmmaker alone would have been enough reason to avoid this story.

And yet, at the end of the day, this is a love letter to you. It might be done with elementary-level elegance, but die-fans will have a hard time turning away. Hope you don't mind.

Rest in peace,


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