Reporters weren’t the only ones clamoring to speak with hermit-like director John Hughes over the last decade.
Four young filmmakers spent more than two years trying to track down the elusive teen comedy king.
“Don’t You Forget About Me,” debuting at 6:40 p.m. EST Dec. 25 on Encore with a 3 p.m. EST repeat the following day, tracks their search for the uber-private director.
But their journey is the least illuminating part of the documentary.
The filmmakers are far more successful coaxing smart anecdotes from the actors who starred in Hughes’ films, including an excitable Judd Nelson, Kelly LeBrock, Ally Sheedy and Andrew McCarthy. Each shares what they feel were the secrets to Hughes’ success and how he was able to tap into something universal in the teen experience.
The film also nabs directors Jason Reitman and Kevin Smith to expound on Hughes’ work and its influence on their own projects.
The interviews fit snugly together into one compelling argument for Hughes’ well deserved reputation as the Bard of Young America. And it’s not just 30- and 40-somethings who look back fondly at “Pretty in Pink” and “The Breakfast Club.”
The documentary chats up today’s teens who reveal their affection for Hughes’ work – and their disdain for what passes for teen comedies today.
The film’s highlight might be a clip of an old “Siskel & Ebert” film review show in which Gene Siskel savages “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” as a mere trifle.
Has a film critic ever looked so clueless in retrospect?
And a small segment involving the creation of the Simple Minds’ smash that gave the documentary its title will be well received by pop culture completists.
“Don’t You Forget About Me” makes Hughes out to be an auteur of the first order, ignoring his lesser works like “Curly Sue” and pumping up his achievements beyond their actual value.
But as smartly choreographed romp through the ’80s, “Don’t You Forget About Me” is essential viewing.
The documentary is part of Encore’s Big ’80s Weekend, a marathon of films from the decade hosted by Cyndi Lauper. The marathon kicks off with Hughes’ “The Breakfast Club” at 8 p.m. EST Dec. 25.
(Photo: The documentary “Don’t You Forget About Me” recalls director John Hughes’ most memorable films including “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” featuring from left to right Alan Ruck, Mia Sara and Matthew Broderick.)