Sixteen Candles (1984)

Thirty-six years ago today, the film Sixteen Candles premiered. I have a fondness for any film that has John Hughes in the credits, partially because they were released at pivotal points in my life and spoke directly to my core friend group and partially because of the soundtracks. The music introduced me to bands that would become some of my favorites. You need to see this film.

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Title: Sixteen Candles
Directed by: John Hughes
Produced by: Hilton A. Green, Michelle Manning, Ned Tanen
Written by: John Hughes
Starring: Molly Ringwald, Paul Dooley, Justin Henry, Anthony Michael Hall
Music by: Ira Newborn
Cinematography: Bobby Byrne
Edited by: Edward Warschillka
Production company: Universal Pictures
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Release date: May 4, 1984
Running time: 93 minutes
Budget: $6.5 million
Box office: $23.7 million

High school sophomore Samantha “Sam” Baker is hopeful her 16th birthday is the beginning of a great new year, but is shocked when her family forgets because her older, vain sister Ginny is getting married the next day. Her frustration is compounded by the fact that her crush, senior Jake Ryan, has no idea how she feels.

At school, she reveals her feelings about Jake in a “sex quiz” she tries to give her friend Randi which, unbeknownst to Sam, Jake intercepts. Meanwhile, Jake asks his friend Rock about Sam, having noticed her looking at him in their independent study class. Rock dismisses her as an immature child, but Jake says he is frustrated by his girlfriend Caroline’s partying ways.

On the bus ride home, geeky freshman Ted, who has a crush on Sam, repeatedly flirts with her only to have Sam reject him.

At home, Sam’s day gets worse when she discovers she must sleep on the sofa because her grandparents and a foreign exchange student named Long Duk Dong are all staying at the house for the wedding. Her grandparents also have forgotten her birthday and make Sam take Dong with her to a dance at school that night.

At the dance, Sam pines after Jake as he slow dances with Caroline while it doesn’t take long for Dong to attract the large-breasted jock, Marlene. Ted embarrasses Sam by dancing with her after bragging to his geek friends, Bryce and Cliff, that they are dating. When Sam runs away, the geeks bet Ted a dozen floppy disks that he can’t get physical with Sam. Ted accepts, but Bryce and Cliff demand Sam’s underpants as proof of his success. Jake, having seen Ted and Sam dance, asks Ted about Sam.

Ted finds Sam in the auto shop where she opens up to him about her family forgetting her birthday and her feelings for Jake. Ted tells her Jake asked about her and Sam excitedly asks if she should talk to Jake or wait for him to come to her. Ted, despite his feelings for Sam, encourages her to approach Jake. Before she leaves, Ted tells her about his bet and asks to borrow her panties. Later, in the boys bathroom, Bryce, Cliff, and Ted charge the other geeks one dollar to see Sam’s underwear.

At Jake’s house, Caroline and her friends have started a wild party. Jake, angry with Caroline, retreats to his bedroom and tries calling Sam, but her grandparents yell at him for waking them up and tell him Sam isn’t interested. After the party ends, Jake is furious at the damage left behind. He finds Ted hiding under a glass coffee table after he angered some jocks by knocking over their beer can pyramid. Ted gives Jake Sam’s underwear and tells him Sam is interested in him. Jake says he is tired of his relationship with Caroline and offers to let Ted drive a drunken Caroline home in his father’s Rolls Royce.

The next morning, Sam’s mother apologizes to Sam for forgetting her birthday and everyone heads to the church for the wedding. Jake arrives at Sam’s house where a hungover Dong miscommunicates that Sam is at church getting married. In the church parking lot, Jake finds Caroline and Ted making out in the back of his dad’s banged-up Rolls. Jake and Caroline agree to break up, but remain friends. Jake then drives to the church just in time to meet an incredulous Sam after her sister’s wedding.

That night at Jake’s house, Jake gives Sam her underwear and a birthday cake with 16 candles on it. He tells her to make a wish, but she says her wish already came true. The two kiss as the film fades to black.

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