Ten Reasons I Love John Hughes

Christmastime is nearing and many of us will be watching National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (two or three times). Like It's A Wonderful Life, it's a tradition in our house.

I'm watching it now and it reminded me that the writer of this film was John Hughes. Yeah, that John Hughes. Pretty In Pink. 16 Candles. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.

This reminded me of a blog I wrote for someone this summer and I thought I'd share it again. I miss John Hughes for his humor but more for his heart. What an amazing talent.

Here are ten reasons why I love John Hughes. (The original blog was written for The Solitary Tales in mind)

Ten Reasons I Love John Hughes

When I first pitched The Solitary Tales to publishers, I said it was a combination of Pretty In Pink mixed with The Exorcist. That was exaggerating, of course, but I wanted to instantly conjure up the teen angst and love in the John Hughes film mixed in with a darker and creepier story.

Whether or not that formula works, I know one thing: the formula John Hughes had worked. I grew up loving his movies and I still love them. Here are ten reasons why I love those movies:

The Music.

Music matters in his movies. It's not just an audio backdrop (though the backdrop he provides is really some kind of wonderful). Witness the use of "Elegia" by New Order in Pretty In Pink. This follows a poignant moment between father and daughter. Andy (Molly Ringwald) doesn't know what' s happening with her prom date. It could be corny or cliched, but Hughes picks the perfect piece of music and then sews it in like magic.

A Hopeless Romantic.

At the core of every John Hughes film is a beating heart that’s unafraid to be bold and to blush. Whether it’s teen love or the love a businessman has for his family, Hughes knows how to pull on your heartstrings in real and authentic ways.


John Hughes was the writer of comedy classics like Mr. Mom and National Lampoon’s Vacation not to mention the movies he directed. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles is still one of my top five comedies ever.

Family Matters.

Yes, family is important, even if it's broken and dysfunctional. John Hughes knew about families because he was a husband and a father. The stories he wrote had autobiographical details scattered all over them. I could relate to the character in Sixteen Candles when I was sixteen. And I found that years later, I ended up relating to Kevin Bacon’s character in She’s Having a Baby. While Hughes sometimes mocked families, he still showed that it’s an important and vital thing in one’s life.

The Chicago Suburbs.

Who would have thought when I first saw his films that I'd end up moving to the very place he was showing?


Yes, we all know the leads. But consider Jon Cryer as Duckie. What an unforgettable part. Consider James Spader as Steff. What a septic character study. So many of his films have so many amazing actors cast so well.


Combine music, hopeless romanticism, and humor, and what do you have? Passion. Just witness the scene where Duckie does karaoke in the record store to Otis Redding’s “Try A Little Tenderness.” This wasn’t a throwaway scene. This was pivotal and passionate.


Hughes handles all his characters (even the bad ones) with a tender touch. This is always good when writing characters


One thing I’m always trying to get right in my writing is having emotional authenticity. Regardless of what the story was about, every Hughes film has this emotional authenticity.


John Hughes understood girls, and very few guys understand girls. His most likable and moving characters were always the female leads that we were rooting for.

John Hughes passed away on August 6, 2009. His talents will be missed, but his gifts will be appreciated for a very long time.

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