The Breakfast Club according to Callaghan (or, the seven stages of Callaghan during The Breakfast Club).

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Last week, it suddenly came to my attention that Callaghan, who’s almost my age and therefore spent his teen years in the 80’s, like I did, had never seen the movie The Breakfast Club. It was a remarkable revelation that made me blink in wonderment. How could he have escaped The Breakfast Club? Moreover, how could I not have known that the person I’d been with for five years had never seen The Breakfast Club? I never felt any particularly intense passion for the film, but all this time, I’ve duly acknowledged it as one of the most important films of that decade. Like it or not, The Breakfast Club largely defined the pop culture landscape of the 80’s, and it just never occurred to me that anyone could be ignorant of this, even if you’re French. Being a French person in France was no excuse for not knowing The Breakfast Club, especially since the most popular movies in France at the time were other American movies such as Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., Ghostbusters and Back to the Future. I was nonplussed.

It was like that time I found out Callaghan had never seen Fatal Attraction. I’d just assumed that anyone would get any and all references to deranged jilted lovers boiling bunnies, until a certain episode of Hart of Dixie happened and the truth came out. Callaghan may have passed the test to earn U.S. citizenship, but obviously, the test is lacking.

Anyway, last week, we were watching “The Runaway Club,” the most recent episode of Bob’s Burgers. The episode opened as a Breakfast Club parody, complete with a parody of the Simple Minds song, which instantly had me cracking up, which led to Callaghan looking at me quizzically, which led to my realization that Callaghan had no insight to the joke, which he confirmed upon being questioned. Yes, this was a grave matter, and it demanded serious questioning.

So on Saturday night, we sat down to watch The Breakfast Club. We were righting a wrong, and besides, I was curious to see how someone would react to the movie three decades after its release! (The movie came out in 1985. I graduated from high school in 1987. Callaghan graduated in 1989. There was no way he was getting out of seeing the movie once I found out he hadn’t seen it.)

Below, I’ve provided a run-down of Callaghan’s responses, which – unbeknownst to him – I recorded in real time.

Stage One: He’s bored and on the verge of falling asleep.

“Baby, so far this is extremely boring.” (Five minutes in)

(in spite of himself, he laughs at something Bender says)

Stage Two: He starts paying attention.

“Huh. She reminds me of Edward Scissorhands.” (looking at Molly Ringwald)

Molly Ringwald in The Breakfast Club on the left. Johnny Depp as Edward Scissorhands on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

Molly Ringwald in The Breakfast Club on the left. Johnny Depp as Edward Scissorhands on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

Stage Three: He accepts the reality that the whole movie takes place at the school.

“Seriously? The whole movie is about this scene?”

Stage Four: He gets drawn into it.

(laughs at something Bender does)

(laughs when Ally Sheedy throws the lunch meat in the air and it sticks to the sculpture)

“Did she just squeal?” (about a sudden, high-pitched noise made by Ally Sheedy)

Stage Five: He’s now totally into it.

(laughs at Bender crawling above the ceiling)

(laughs at Bender looking at Molly Ringwald’s crotch under the desk)

(laughs when everyone’s getting stoned)

“They made her look like Ozzy Osbourne.” (looking at Ally Sheedy)

Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club on the left. Ozzy Osbourne on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club on the left. Ozzy Osbourne on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

Stage Six: He’s now a part of it.

“Heheh, I thought exactly that!” (when Ally Sheedy says that her parents ignored her)

(laughs at Vernon saying to the janitor, “Do you think I give one rat’s ass what these kids think of me?”)

(laughs when Bender says to Molly Ringwald that a girl is only a tease if what she does get you hot)

(laughs at something Ally Sheedy says)

“Yeah, that’s the exact opposite of Bender’s.” (When Emilio Estevez describes his dad)

(laughs at something Bender says to Anthony Michael Hall, who’s talking about failing shop)

“She’s going to put her tongue up her nose!” (about Molly Ringwald, who instead applied lipstick with her bra)

“SO WHAT CAN YOU DO?” (Callaghan shouts at Bender)

Stage Seven: He becomes an astute observer.

“It’s funny that Brian is way taller than all of them.” (When the three guys are dancing to “We are Not Alone” in the dance scene in the library)

The End.

So, what have we learned from this?

Callaghan’s conclusion: “That was cool. It took a little time to go somewhere, but that was really cool. That’s a movie they could make a re-make of. I mean, watching this, of course, we know it was there. That was us in high school. Not that kids in high school today are any different, but they have phones… I mean, they’re different today. But that’s why they should do a remake. Things are different today.”

My conclusion:  I never realized before that to me, at least, Bender and Vernon are the only character-characters in the movie. In my notes, I called them “Bender” and “Vernon,” while I referred to the other actors by their actual names.

I loved the Bob’s Burgers parody, by the way, even though plot-wise, “The Runaway Club” strayed from The Breakfast Club pretty far between the opening and ending of the episode. Excellent tribute!

The Breakfast Club - dancing in the library

The Breakfast Club – dancing in the library

The dance scene parody in the end credits of Bob's Burgers "The Runaway Club"

The dance scene parody in the end credits of Bob’s Burgers “The Runaway Club”

Thank you to Callaghan for taking part in my sociological experience watching the movie with me. I know you weren’t into it at first, so I’m glad you ended up enjoying it!

On that note – Happy 30th Anniversary, The Breakfast Club! We agree that you’re basically timeless.

SAY MY NAME: Victor Heisenberg.

We were talking about the highly anticipated Breaking Bad spin-off television series Better Call Saul the other day, Callaghan and I, and that got me thinking about French actor Jean Reno. Why?

I’m going to tell you.

First, if you’re unfamiliar with Luc Besson’s film La Femme Nikita and/or that T.V. series Breaking Bad, no worries! All you have to do to be engaged here is examine the image below and note that I’m not crazy. In the image, I compare a photo of La Femme Nikita’s Victor le Nettoyeur (Victor the Cleaner) to Breaking Bad’s Heisenberg. See, I have a theory about these two shadowy fictional characters (who happen to be two of my favorite shadowy fictional characters in recent pop culture history).

This is my theory: the persona of Heisenberg is a tribute to Victor le Nettoyeur.

We met Victor le Nettoyeur in La Femme Nikita back in 1990. Anyone remember him? The guy who’s called to the scene of Nikita’s job gone awry, announces himself as “the Cleaner,” then goes on to make an (ironically) atrocious mess? He’s only in the movie for about ten minutes, but within those ten minutes, he manages to steal the show in a gruesome display of dubious decision-making. I, for one, have been an ardent Jean Reno fan ever since.

Here’s a clip, but –

**WARNING! This scene from La Femme Nikita is violent and gory, so don’t watch if it’s not for you!**

…just go directly to 2:10 and watch Jean Reno as he utters two words:

 

 

“VICTOR, NETTOYEUR.”

(I was looking for a three-second clip that just featured him saying that, but alas, I could only find full scenes.)I think it’s a riot how he introduces himself with such gravitas!

20 years later, we meet Heisenberg in Breaking Bad. Now here’s that side-by-side of the two:

 

"VICTOR, NETTOYEUR" on the left. Heisenberg on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

“VICTOR, NETTOYEUR” on the left. Heisenberg on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

 

How could this be a coincidence?

The attire. The facial hair. The hats. The villainous demeanor and quirks. The most dramatic difference between the two is Heisenberg’s updated sunglasses style.

If that isn’t convincing enough, consider this:

–In 1990, “VICTOR, NETTOYEUR” dumps corrosive acid on bodies (one of them not quite dead, as it turns out) in a bathtub.

–In 2008, Walter White orders the disposal of a body using acid, and that disposal also happens in a bathtub (though Jesse chose the bathtub against Walt’s instructions) – and two years later, in 2010 (exactly 20 years post-“VICTOR, NETTOYEUR”), Walter’s become the fearsome Heisenberg, who has since established as protocol the usage of acid for body-disposal purposes in (plastic) tubs.

I don’t know about you, but I find there’s something more than a little Victoresque about Heisenberg… and I think that to use Victor le Nettoyeur as inspiration for Heisenberg was a genius move and a marvelous tribute. Well done, Vince Gilligan! Well done.

So that’s what I was thinking the other day as we were talking about the Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul. Incidentally, I’d rather call Saul than “VICTOR, NETTOYEUR,” though I’d call Jean Reno, himself, any day. Just sayin.’