Sixteen Candles (1984)

sixteen candles poster 1984 movie
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 9/10

Classic '80s coming of age themed movie, fun flashback, perfect cast for the time

Sometimes uneven, racist, date rape moments

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Sixteen Candles

Studio:  Universal Pictures

Genre(s):  Comedy

Release Date(s):  May 4, 1984

MPAA Rating:  PG-13


You know you want me

Samantha “Sam” Baker (Molly Ringwald) is having a bad day.  It is her birthday and her entire family has forgotten.  Not only that, her grandparents have pushed her out of her own room for the wedding of her sister Ginny (Blanche Baker) and she’s been sidled with their exchange student Long Duk Dong (Gedde Watanabe).  At school, Sam worries her crush on Jake Ryan (Michael Schoeffing) has been found out and she’s dealing with the local geek “Farmer” Ted (Anthony Michael Hall) who has his eyes set on her.  Birthdays are a special time and sixteen is a big one…Sam just wishes it was just over.

Written and directed by John Hughes, Sixteen Candles is an ’80s teen comedy standard.  The film was highly praised by critics and made a star out of Molly Ringwald who went on to other teen classics like The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink.  The movie has had immense staying power and is considered a comedy classic.


Yeah…when we forget it again next year, there’s a problem

Molly Ringwald was everywhere in the ’80s, and this movie really started the former Facts of Life star’s ride to fame.  It seemed like everyone wanted to be Molly Ringwald and because of movies like this, you can understand why.

The movie is very set in the ’80s, but the general isolation and teenage themes hold true today and the smart script sets these up with some great laughs.  The movie is one of the ultimate examples of the idea that teens aren’t heard by adults.  Ringwald’s character has the normal struggles of growing up to adulthood and crushes and feels alone.  In one of the nicer scenes of the movie, the truth that everyone has this suffering is revealed by her father and cannot be helped (of course in the world of Sixteen Candles, even the geeky kid gets the girl).


What’s happening hot stuff?

The movie works because Ringwald is wholesome but also attractive enough that you can see her ending up with the guy.  I don’t think that Ringwald is always the best actress, but here is one of the movies where you really believe that she could be this girl.  It also helps that she has such a likable cast family…some of which you love to hate.

Along with the greatly cast family, the movie is also a who’s who of up-and-coming actors in the ’80s.  Anthony Michael Hall had already made ground in National Lampoon’s Vacation and had a successful career after this.  Both John Cusack and his sister Joan Cusack had minor roles in the movie, and Jami Gertz went on to The Lost Boys and other films.  The surprise scene stealer however is Gedd Watanabe as Long Duk Dong who has had a long supporting career including a regular role in ER.


I thought you were seventeen…my bad, I don’t go out with kids.

The movie is a fun flashback if you grew up when it was out.  It is decorated with styles, artists, and looks that you’d expect from a movie at this time, but John Hughes always seemed to capture it better than any other person.  I will say that it isn’t for kids because PG-13 in 1984 was far different…demonstrated by the shower scene which has Sam and Robin checking out how girls older than them are “developing” with an almost gratuitous showering scene in the likes of Carrie.

Sixteen Candles is rightfully a teen classic.  It is uneven and dated (there are essentially scenes encouraging date rape and some pretty racists material surrounding Long Duk Dong), but it is a film from the period of which it was born.  Fortunately, the true themes of the movie hold up and I think even new generations of viewers will identify with Ringwald’s struggles and fears about growing up…even if their families f*@!ing forget their birthday.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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