Sixteen Candles is a 1984 coming-of-age film starring Molly Ringwald, Michael Schoeffling and Anthony Michael Hall. The film was written and directed by John Hughes. As in Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink, Molly Ringwald symbol excluded, the girl who does not fit all, the smart but clumsy duckling, ugly Angsty whose story ends in fairytale fashion in the realm of high school, but not without sorrow first condition.
Awkward high school sophomore Samantha “Sam” Baker (Molly Ringwald) struggles to get through the day of her sixteenth birthday, which her entire family forgets because her older sister, Ginny (Blanche Baker), is getting married the next day. She is also plagued by her ongoing infatuation with the very popular and very attractive senior, Jake Ryan (Michael Schoeffling). Her day at school fares no better when she finds out that her completed “sex quiz,” which she surreptitiously slipped to her friend, never reached her (and, unbeknownst to either of them, was picked up by Jake Ryan himself). Sam panics as the quiz contains personal information, including the fact that she is a virgin and is saving herself for Jake.
She has a whole new set of problems when she arrives home to find that both sets of grandparents are staying at the Baker home for the duration of the wedding visit. On top of it all, one set of grandparents brings along bizarre foreign exchange student Long Duk Dong (Gedde Watanabe). Sam’s grandparents force her to take him along to her school dance that night and, to Sam’s amazement, it takes “The Donger” only five hours to find an unlikely girlfriend — the tallish, large-breasted jock, Marlene, promptly nicknamed “Lumberjack.” After some ensuing madness with everyone involved, Sam’s family eventually makes up before the wedding and apologizes for forgetting her birthday.
A running subplot involves a geeky freshman (Anthony Michael Hall) who continually (and unsuccessfully) tries to bed his love interest, Sam, to satisfy a bet with his friends. The character is referred to on several occasions in the movie as either “Ted” or “Farmer Ted”, but he is credited solely as “the Geek.”
In the auto-shop room during the dance, Sam and Ted begin talking and Sam confesses her love for Jake. Upon hearing this, he tells her that Jake had been asking about her at the dance, and they agree that Sam should just go and talk to him. As she’s leaving, he reveals the wager to Sam, who, in her excited state, agrees to loan him her underwear to help him win a dozen floppy disks.
Later (after a peepshow of Sam’s underpants for $1 admission, which she does not find out about until the next day), Ted and his equally unwelcome friends, Cliff (Darren Harris) and Bryce (John Cusack), crash the senior after-party at Jake’s house — during which the entire house is completely trashed. At night’s end, Jake finds Ted trapped under a table and they begin to talk. Jake inquires further about Sam; Ted explains the situation. Jake makes a deal with Ted: If Ted lets Jake keep Sam’s panties, then he will let Ted drive home his inebriated, stuck-up, prom queen girlfriend, Carolyn Mulford (Haviland Morris), in Jake’s father’s Rolls Royce. Jake later uses the excuse of finding them together to break up with Carolyn (who had surprisingly fallen for Ted, and thus doesn’t mind the break-up very much). Afterward, Jake drives to the church just in time to meet an incredulous Sam after her sister’s wedding. The movie concludes with them sharing a kiss over a birthday cake with sixteen candles.
- Main characters
- Molly Ringwald as Samantha Baker
- Justin Henry as Mike Baker
- Michael Schoeffling as Jake Ryan
- Anthony Michael Hall as Ted, aka “The Geek”
- Gedde Watanabe as Long Duk Dong
- Haviland Morris as Caroline Mulford
- Paul Dooley as Jim Baker
- Carlin Glynn as Brenda Baker
- Blanche Baker as Ginny Baker
- Supporting characters
- Edward Andrews as Grandpa Howard Baker
- Billie Bird as Grandma Dorothy Baker
- Carole Cook as Grandma Helen
- Max Showalter as Grandpa Fred
- Liane Alexandra Curtis as Randy
- John Cusack as Bryce
- Darren Harris as Cliff (Wease)
- Deborah Pollack as Marlene, aka “Lumberjack”
- Joan Cusack as Geek Girl
- John Kapelos as Rudy Ryszczyk
- Jami Gertz as Robin
- Brian Doyle-Murray as Reverand
- Zelda Rubinstein as Organist
Sixteen Candles was filmed primarily in and around the Chicago North Shore suburban community of Evanston, Illinois during the summer of 1983.Most of the exterior scenes and some of the interior scenes were filmed at Niles East High School,close to downtown Skokie, the setting for Hall’s driving the Rolls Royce. A cafeteria scene, gym scene, and auto shop scene were filmed at Niles North High School. The Baker house is located on the 3000 block of Payne Street in Evanston. The church and parking lot where the final scenes take place is in Glencoe.
Sixteen Candles was well received by critics and is considered by many as one of the best films of 1984. Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 90% of critics gave it a positive rating, based on 30 reviews.Variety called her “engaging and credible” while Roger Ebert wrote that she “provides a perfect center for the story”. Ringwald’s performance was especially praised;
The character of Long Duk Dong was criticized for being racially insensitive and offensive to Asians and others who found that the character “represents one of the most offensive Asian stereotypes Hollywood ever gave America” and encouraged playground-taunting by quoting his stilted-English lines. Ebert defended him, writing that Gedde Watanabe “elevates his role from a potentially offensive stereotype to high comedy”.
Sixteen Candles was a moderate success at the box office, grossing $23,686,027.