Don't You Forget About Me Matt Austin Sadowski

Don't You Forget About Me Matt Austin Sadowski

Even without its sad epilogue, Don't You Forget About Me is a poignant testament to the power of the late, beloved writer/director John Hughes, the man who not only launched the notion of a serious '80s teen movie, but gave the concept weight and heart, offering a cinematic blueprint that few seem able to follow. A quartet of young Canadian filmmakers are responsible for this alluring documentary delving into Hughes, with insights about him and his process from many of the actors and associates that helped shape the iconography of classics like Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Some Kind of Wonderful, among others. The film is also framed as a quest to find Hughes, who abandoned Hollywood completely in the '90s, living as a recluse in some Illinois suburb. As such, we get to know director Matt Austin Sadowski, and producers Lenny Panzer, Michael Facciolo and Kari Hollend. They're a pretty benign group of personalities, although Facciolo comes across as a silly, hare-brained enthusiast, for the most part (the broken leg and crutches don't help). Feeling alienated by the stock teen films in the current marketplace, these young folk initially wanted to write their own film in the spirit of Hughes's work. As they got further into his psyche, they wondered why he quit the business and soon decided it'd be more interesting to make a documentary about why contemporary teen films pale in comparison to what Hughes made in the '80s. What starts out as a love letter to Hughes ends up being a quest to meet him and demonstrate how much he's missed. The efficacy of Hughes's work is brought to light, sparing no expense; the doc features lots of film clips and interviews, with both Hughes colleagues like Ally Sheedy, Alan Ruck, Judd Nelson, Mia Sara, Kelly LeBrock and a host of other familiar actors (this, by the way, in itself is a great treat), but also filmmakers like Kevin Smith, Jason Reitman and the creative team behind Napoleon Dynamite. Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper grant interviews about Hughes, with Ebert in particular recalling visits to Hughes's sets in Chicago, where virtually all of his films were set. On the whole, these voices illuminate Hughes's sensibility and his uncanny ability to tap into what teens were feeling and thinking. His casting decisions were astute and reflected real teenagers, flaws and all. The filmmakers wisely poll a number of young teens about their favourite films and, remarkably, they all discuss how great Hughes's films are and how well they respond to them, particularly in relation to the high-gloss dreck they're confronted with today. Ruck suggests kids still respond to the work because Hughes's heart is in his films, as all of his offbeat characters were really bits and extensions of Hughes himself. Released after Hughes's untimely death last year, the investigative quest to find him is that much more urgent and suspenseful. But in the end, it doesn't matter; even in glimpses of the man, Don't You Forget About Me captures and idealizes John Hughes beautifully as the artist he truly was. (Alliance)