Saturday, March 24, 1984. Shermer High School, Shermer, Illinois, 60062. Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. What we did was wrong. But we think you're crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. What do you care? You see us as you want to see us—in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. You see us as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal. Correct? That's the way we saw each other at 7:00 this morning. We were brainwashed.
Vernon: Well…well. Here we are! I want to congratulate you for being on time.
Claire: [raises hand] Excuse me, sir? I think there's been a mistake. I know it's detention, but, um…I don't think I belong in here…
Vernon: It is now seven-oh-six. You have exactly eight hours and fifty-four minutes to think about why you're here, to ponder the error of your ways…and you may not talk. You will not move from these seats. [points at John] And you…will not sleep. Alright people, we're gonna try something a little different today. We are going to write an essay—of no less than a thousand words—describing to me who you think you are.
John: Is this a test?
Vernon: And when I say essay, I mean essay. I do not mean a single word repeated a thousand times. Is that clear, Mr. Bender?
Vernon: Good. Maybe you'll learn a little something about yourself. Maybe you'll even decide whether or not you care to return.
Brian: [raises hand, stands] You know, I can answer that right now, sir. That'd be "no," "no" for me, 'cause—
Vernon: Sit down, Johnson.
Brian: Thank you, sir.
Vernon: My office is right across that hall. Any monkey business is ill-advised. Any questions?
John: Yeah, I got a question. Does Barry Manilow know you raid his wardrobe?
Vernon: I'll give you the answer to that question, Mr. Bender: next Saturday. Don't mess with the bull, young man. You'll get the horns.
John: What do you say we close that door? We can't have any kind of party with Vernon checking us out every few seconds.
Brian: Well, you know the door's supposed to stay open.
John: So what?
Andrew: So why don't you just shut up! There's four other people in here you know.
John: God, you can count. See! I knew you had to be smart to be a…a wrestler.
Andrew: Who the hell are you to judge anybody, anyway?
Andrew: You know, Bender, you don't even count. I mean if you disappeared forever it wouldn't make any difference. You may as well not even exist at this school.
John: Well, I'll just run right out and join the wrestling team. Maybe the prep club too! Student council…
Andrew: No, they wouldn't take you.
John: I'm hurt.
Claire: You know why guys like you knock everything?
John: Oh, this should be stunning.
Claire: It's 'cause you're afraid.
John: Oh, God! You richies are so smart; that's exactly why I'm not heavy in activities!
Claire: You're a big coward.
Brian: I'm in the math club.
Claire: See, you're afraid that they won't take you. You don't belong, so you just have to dump all over it.
John: Well, it wouldn't have anything to do with you activities people being assholes, now would it?
Claire: Well you wouldn't know; you don't even know any of us.
John: Well, I don't know any lepers, either, but I'm not gonna run out and join one of their fucking clubs.
Andrew: Look, you guys keep up your talking and Vernon's gonna come right in here. I got a meet this Saturday and I'm not gonna miss it on account of you boneheads.
John: Oh and wouldn't that be a bite, huh? Missing a whole wrestling meet!
Andrew: Well, you wouldn't know anything about it, faggot! You never competed in your whole life!
John: Oh, I know. I feel all empty inside because of it. I have such a deep admiration for guys that roll around on the floor with other guys.
Andrew: Ahhh, you'd never make it. You don't have any goals.
John: Oh, but I do!
John: I wanna be just—like—you. I figure all I need's a lobotomy and some tights!
Brian: You wear tights?
Andrew: No, I don't wear tights. I wear the required uniform.
Andrew: Shut up!
Claire: What's your name?
John: What's yours?
Claire: Claire. It's a family name!
John: No. It's a fat girl's name.
Claire: Well, thank you.
John: You're welcome.
Claire: I'm not fat!
John: Well not at present, but I could see you really pushing maximum density! You see, I'm not sure if you know this, but there are two kinds of fat people. There's fat people that were born to be fat, and then there's fat people that were once thin but they became fat, so when you look at them you can sort of see that thin person inside! You see, you're gonna get married, you're gonna squeeze out a few puppies and then, uh... [Claire gives him the finger] Oh, obscene finger gestures from such a pristine girl!
Claire: I'm not that pristine!
John: Are you a virgin? I'll bet you a million dollars that you are! Let's end the suspense! Is it gonna be…a white weddin?
Claire: Why don't you just shut up ?
John: Have you ever kissed a boy on the mouth? Have you ever been felt up? Over the bra, under the blouse, shoes off…hoping to God your parents don't walk in?
Claire: Do you want me to puke?
John: Over the panties, no bra, blouse unbuttoned, Calvin's in a ball on the front seat past eleven on a school night?
Andrew: Leave her alone!
John: Screws fall out all the time; the world is an imperfect place.
Vernon: You're not fooling anyone, Bender. The next screw that falls out will be you.
John: Eat my shorts.
Vernon: What was that?
Vernon: You just bought yourself another Saturday.
John: Ooh, I'm crushed.
Vernon: You just bought one more.
John: Well, I'm free the Saturday after that. Beyond that, I'm going to have to check my calendar.
Vernon: Good, 'cause it's going to be filled! We'll keep going. You want another one? Just say the word say it. Instead of going to prison, you'll come here. Are you through?
Vernon: I'm doing society a favor.
Vernon: That's another one right now! I've got you for the rest of your natural born life if you don't watch your step! You want another one?!
Vernon: You got it! You got another one right there! That's another one pal!
Claire: Cut it out!
Vernon: You through?
John: Not even close, bud!
Vernon: Good! You got one more right there!
John: You really think I give a shit?
Vernon: Another. You through?
John: How many is that?
Brian: That's seven including when we first came in and you asked Mr. Vernon whether Barry Manilow knew that he raided his closet.
Vernon: Now it's eight. You stay out of this.
Brian: Excuse me, sir, it's seven.
Vernon: Shut up, peewee! You're mine, Bender…for two months, I gotcha! I gotcha!
John: What can I say? I'm thrilled!
Vernon: Oh, I'm sure that's exactly what you want these people to believe. You know something, Bender? You ought to spend a little more time trying to do something with yourself and a little less time trying to impress people. You might be better off. Alright, that's it! I'm going to be right outside those doors! The next time I have to come in here, I'm crackin' skulls!
John: Carl? How does one become a janitor?
Carl: You wanna be a janitor?
John: No, I just want to know how one becomes a janitor. Because, you see, Andrew here is very interested in pursuing a career in the custodial arts.
Carl: Oh, really? You guys think I'm just some untouchable peasant? Serf? Peon? Well, maybe so. But following a broom around after shitheads like you for the last eight years, I've learned a couple of things. I look through your letters. I look through your lockers. I listen to your conversations—you don't know that but I do. I am the eyes and ears of this institution, my friends. [pause] By the way, that clock's twenty minutes fast.
John: P.B. & J. with the crusts cut off. Well, Brian, this is a very nutritious lunch; all the food groups are represented. Did your mom marry, Mr. Rogers?
Brian: Uh, no. Mr. Johnson.
John: Ah. Here's my impression of life at Big Bri's house: "Son?" "Yeah, Dad?" "How was your day, pal?" "Great, Dad! How's yours?" "Super! Say, how would like to go fishing this weekend?" "Great, Dad! But I got homework to do." "That's okay, son! You can do it on the boat!" "Gee!" "Dear, isn't our son swell?" "Yes, dear. Isn't life swell?" [kiss, then mimes punching]
Andrew: All right, what about your family?
John: My family? Oh, that's easy. "Stupid, worthless, no good, goddamned, free loading son-of-a-bitch! Retarded, big mouth, know-it-all asshole jerk!" "You forgot ugly, lazy, and disrespectful!" "Shut up, bitch! Go fix me a turkey pot pie!" "What about you, Dad?" "Fuck you!" "No, Dad, what about you?" "Fuck you!" "No, Dad, what about you?!" "Fuck you!" [mimes punching]
Brian: Is that for real?
John: You wanna come over some time?
Andrew: That's bullshit. It's all part of your image; I don't believe a word of it.
John: You don't believe me?
Andrew: Did I stutter?
[John approaches Andrew, lifts his sleeve to show a burn on his arm. Claire and Andrew look away.]
John: Do you believe this? Huh? It's about the size of a cigar. Do I stutter? You see, this is what you get in my house when you spill paint in the garage. See, I don't think that I need to sit here with you fuckin' dildos anymore!
Vernon: [entering from his office after John falls through ceiling] Jesus Christ Almighty! What in God's name is going on in here? What was that ruckus?
Andrew: Uh, what ruckus?
Vernon: I was just in my office and I heard a ruckus.
Brian: Could you describe the ruckus, sir?
Allison: Have you ever done it with a normal person?
Claire: Didn't we already cover this?
John: You never answered the question.
Claire: Look, I'm not going to discuss my private life with total strangers.
Allison: It's kind of a double edged sword, isn't it?
Claire: A what?
Allison: Well, if you say you haven't, you're a prude. If you say you have, you're a slut. It's a trap. You want to but you can't, and when you do, you wish you didn't, right?
Allison: Or are you a tease?
Andrew: She's a tease.
Claire: I'm sure. Why don't you just forget it.
Andrew: Oh, you're a tease and you know it. All girls are teases.
John: She's only a tease if what she does gets you hot.
Claire: I don't do anything.
Allison: That's why you're a tease.
Claire: Okay, let me ask you a few questions.
Allison: I already told you everything.
Claire: No. Doesn't it bother you to sleep around without being in love. I mean, don't you want any respect?
Allison: I don't screw to get respect. That's the difference between you and me.
Claire: It's not the only difference I hope.
John: Face it, you're a tease.
Claire: I'm not a tease.
John: Sure you are. Sex is your weapon. You said it yourself. You use it to get respect.
Claire: No, I never said that; she twisted my words around.
John: What do you use it for then?
Claire: I don't use it period.
John: Oh, are you medically frigid or is it psychological?
Claire: I didn't mean it that way. You guys are putting words into my mouth.
John: Well, if you'd just answer the question.
Brian: Why don't you just answer the question?
Andrew: Be honest.
John: No big deal.
Brian: Yeah answer it.
Andrew: Answer the question, Claire.
John: Talk to us.
Everyone: C'mon, answer the question. Come on. Answer it.
John: C'mon, it's easy. It's only one question.
Claire: No, I Never did it!
Allison: I never did it either. I'm not a nymphomaniac, I'm a compulsive liar.
Andrew: [referring to his act of taping a classmate's buttocks together] The bizarre thing is, is that I did it for my old man…I tortured this poor kid, because I wanted him to think that I was cool. He's always going off about, you know, when he was in school, all the wild things he used to do. And I got the feeling that he was disappointed that I never cut loose on anyone, right? So, I'm…I'm sitting in the locker room, and I'm taping up my knee. And Larry's undressing a couple lockers down from me. Yeah…he's kinda…he's kinda skinny, weak. And I started thinking about my father, and his attitude about weakness. And the next thing I knew, I, uh…I jumped on top of him and started wailing on him…. And my friends, they just laughed and cheered me on. And, afterwards, when I was sittin' in Vernon's office, all I could think about was Larry's father. And Larry havin' to go home and…and explain what happened to him. And the humiliation…fucking humiliation he must've felt. It must've been unreal…I mean, I mean, how do you apologize for something like that? There's no way…it's all because of me and my old man. Oh, God, I fucking hate him! He's like this…he's like this mindless machine that I can't even relate to anymore. "Andrew, you've got to be number one! I won't tolerate any losers in this family…. Your intensity is for shit! Win. Win! Win!!" You son of a bitch! You know, sometimes, I wish my knee would give…and I wouldn't be able to wrestle anymore. And he could forget all about me.
John: I think your old man and my old man should get together and go bowling.
Brian: It's like me, you know, with my grades. Like, when I, when I step outside myself kinda, and when I, when I look in at myself you know? And I see me, and I don't like what I see—I really don't.
Claire: What's wrong with you? Why don't you like yourself?
Brian: 'Cause I'm stupid…'cause I'm failing shop. See, we had this assignment, to make this ceramic elephant, and um…and we had eight weeks to do it and we're s'posed to, and it was like a lamp, and when you pull the trunk, the light was s'posed to go on. My light didn't go on; I got an F on it. Never got an F in my life. When I signed up, you know—for the course, I mean—I thought I was playing it real smart, you know. 'Cause I thought, "I'll take shop; it'll be such an easy way to maintain my grade point average."
John: Why'd you think it'd be easy?
Brian: Have you seen some of the dopes that take shop?
John: I take shop. You must be a fuckin' idiot!
Brian: I'm a fuckin' idiot because I can't make a lamp?
John: No, you're a genius because you can't make a lamp.
Brian: What do you know about Trigonometry?
John: I could care less about Trigonometry.
Brian: Bender, did you know without Trigonometry, there'd be no engineering?
John: Without lamps, there'd be no light.
Andrew: My God, are we gonna be like our parents?
Claire: [teary] Not me…ever
Allison: It's unavoidable; it just happens.
Claire: What happens?
Allison: When you grow up, your heart dies.
John: So, who cares?
Allison: I care.
Brian: I just wanna tell each of you that I wouldn't do that...I wouldn't and I will not! 'Cause I think that's real shitty.
Claire: Your friends wouldn't mind because they look up to us.
Brian: You're so conceited, Claire. You're so conceited. You're so, like, full of yourself; why are you like that?
Claire: [teary] I'm not saying that to be conceited! I hate it! I hate having to go along with everything my friends say!
Brian: Well, then why do you do it?
Claire: I don't know, I don't—you don't understand…you don't. You're not friends with the same kind of people that Andy and I are friends with! You know, you just don't understand the pressure that they can put on you!
Brian: I don't understand what? You think I don't understand pressure, Claire? Well fuck you! Fuck you! [breaks down, begins to cry] Know why I'm here today? Do you?! I'm here because Mr. Ryan found a gun in the locker.
Andrew: Why'd you have a gun in your locker?
Brian: I tried. You pull the fuckin' trunk on it and the light's s'posed to go on…and it didn't go on, I mean, I…
Andrew: What's the gun for, Brian?
Brian: Just forget it.
Andrew: You brought it up, man!
Brian: I can't have an F; I can't have it and I know my parents can't have it. Even if I aced the rest of the semester, I'm still only a B. And everything's ruined for me.
Claire: Oh, Brian…
Brian: Fuck! So I considered my options, you know?
Claire: No! Killing yourself is not an option!
Brian: Well I didn't do it, did I? No, I don't think so!
Allison: It was a hand gun?
Brian: No, it was a flare gun—went off in my locker.
Andrew: Really? [laughs]
Brian: It's not funny…
[Andrew tries to stop, but he continues laughing and everyone else begins to laugh]
Brian: [laughing as well] Yes it is. Fuckin' elephant was destroyed!
Allison: You wanna know what I did to get in here? Nothing; I didn't have anything better to do.
[Everyone continues to laugh, now at Allison]
Allison: You're laughing at me!
Allison: Yes, you are!
[Everyone continues to laugh]
Brian: Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. But we think you're crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us—in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain…
Andrew: …and an athlete…
Allison: …and a basket case…
Claire: …a princess…
John: …and a criminal.
Brian: Does that answer your question? Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club.
They only met once, but it changed their lives forever.
They were five total strangers, with nothing in common, meeting for the first time. A brain, a beauty, a jock, a rebel and a recluse. Before the day was over, they broke the rules. Bared their souls and touched each other in a way they never dreamed possible.
Five strangers with nothing in common, except each other.