As a 40-something male, there were several coming of age films that were a staple of my generation (at least in my eyes). They included, “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” “Better Off Dead,” “Flashdance,” and anything directed by John Hughes, including Hughes’ pinnacle film, “The Breakfast Club.”
That being said, it was more than intriguing for my inner-13-year-old self to be sitting front and center at the University at Buffalo Center for the Arts on Saturday to see (as she aptly describes herself in her Twitter bio), my childhood crush, the girl who was Ginger before it was cool enough to have a nickname, Claire, a.k.a. Molly Ringwald.
Ringwald made Buffalo the latest stop on her national tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of the iconic film about five mismatched teens forced together by circumstance only to find that as different as we seem, underneath the surface, we’re all a lot more alike then we care to admit.
When it comes to reviewing a concert, stage show or even a comedian, I generally know what to expect going in. I’ll confess, I had no idea what I would get from, “Molly Ringwald Revisits the Club.” Though she is known for her roles in Hughes’ ’80s teen films, Ringwald is an accomplished singer, stage actor and author as well, so there was no telling what she had in store for the audience. As it turns out, it wasn’t much.
We’ve all seen our share of late night television. The host brings out the celebrity du jour to tout their latest project and gives them, on average, eight to ten minutes to talk about their film. There is a reason for that. That’s about how much interesting material one can glean from a single person, especially in this case, talking about one of the most talked-about films in a generation.
Ringwald sat for a 70-minute Q&A session mixing in questions from the audience with those awkwardly fumbled to her by a comedian selected to “host” the evening. The event was billed as a behind the scenes look at the filming of the movie and, as noted above, she delivered a good 8-10 minutes of interesting stories and mildly humorous tales. Unfortunately, they were interwoven into another 60 minutes of retread stories, half answers and, in all honesty, one of the least entertaining evenings you could imagine.
Ringwald’s legion of fans won’t like to hear that – they did a respectable job filling the lower section of the auditorium, some even coming “in character” and many others sporting “Breakfast Club” tees – but it’s the truth. And it isn’t a reflection on Ringwald as much as it is an indictment on the process, which felt like some sort of money-grab capitalizing on the nostalgia of the era. She was warm, pleasant, and flashed the smile that made a nation of teen boys’ minds wander, but the evening felt more suited for a panel discussion with an entire cast. As a one-woman show, it fell painfully flat.
There were teasers and tidbits that were fun. She spent a lot of time talking about her feelings for the late John Hughes, describing him as, “very, funny … just a big kid.” She recalled Hughes, who was a big fan of music, making her mix tapes and she retold the awkward conversation the then-teenager had with Hughes about performing the film’s risqué lipstick scene.
She also answered the one question she said everyone asks (No, that wasn’t her when Bender is under her table), she describes the visual as a “stunt crotch,” and said the lipstick application was, “movie magic.”
But outside of a few whimsical antidotes, the evening dragged. Ringwald seemed unsure of how to answer some questions and uninterested in answering others. The audience was left with a soup of largely clichéd, beyond-common questions with equally bland answers.
The upside: those in attendance got to screen the film before the talk. The downside: They could have seen it on cable and saved 38 bucks.