Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Hughes' Shermer is a Chicago suburb with a very strange history indeed. Circa 1985, Sixteen Candles' Sam Baker, The Breakfast Club's Claire Standish and Pretty in Pink's Andie Walsh were all students at Shermer High School. In other words, three Molly Ringwalds were attending the school at the same time. It would seem like three unrelated but identical pouty redheads would attract a lot of attention... But perhaps the students and faculty were distracted by all of the Anthony Michael Halls running around. There was Sixteen Candles' King of the Geeks, The Breakfast Club's Brian Johnson, Rusty Griswold from National Lampoon's Vacation and Gary Wallace from Weird Science.
Actually, so much weird stuff happened at Shermer High School that it's possible nobody ever even noticed all of the Molly and Anthony Michael clones. After all, at the end of Weird Science Gary and Wyatt's magical cyber-girlfriend Lisa gets a job at the school as the new gym teacher. Given Lisa's mischievous nature and god-like powers, it seems inevitable that eventually she'd have a run-in with Mr. Vernon - the sneery teacher from The Breakfast Club - and she'd turn him into a big, gross toad monster. One shudders to imagine how she would discipline Emilio Estevez for taping that one kid's buns together.
If all of Hughes' movies took place in the same town, that raises many troubling questions. If John Candy's Del Griffith really lived two doors down from Sam Baker, did he ever encounter Uncle Buck? Or that other John Candy who managed the neighborhood Target store in Career Opportunities? Did Buck's nephew Miles (Macaulay Culkin) attend elementary school with Kevin, the Macaulay Culkin who was always getting left Home Alone? Did the John Kapelos who was the janitor in The Breakfast Club ever cross paths with the Kapelos who was marrying Sam's sister in Sixteen Candles, or the Kapelos who owned a blues bar in Weird Science? Why were the citizens of Shermer blessed with but one John Cusack, one Annie Potts, one Kelly LeBrock... But cursed with two Jim Belushis?
As the '90s wore on, Hughes gradually became less productive and more reclusive. The last time Shermer was seen onscreen was in Reach the Rock, a little-seen 1998 indie picture that Hughes wrote but did not direct. Hughes originally began the script as a sort of sequel to The Breakfast Club, imagining what would have happened to Bender if he'd stayed in Shermer with Claire and grown into a frustrated, aimless adult. While none of Hughes' old characters or actors appear in the final film, we do get a glimpse of Shermer a decade on from its glory days, and it's become a sad, run-down place. Ferris sure isn't leading any parades through this town.
Hughes is now gone, and we'll probably never get the chance to visit Shermer again. But strangely enough, Hughes' son James Hughes has made some efforts to establish his own fictional Chicago suburb. He wrote the script for the 2001 film New Port South, following a group of rebellious students at New Port South High School in the town of New Port. That's his only credit on the IMDB so far, but give him time. Perhaps one day New Port will be a thriving city, with stories interacting in unlikely ways and the same faces showing up over and over again. If John Bender can go to the same high school as Ferris Beuller, anything is possible.
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