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It's Samantha Baker's sweet sixteen birthday and no one in her family remembers the occasion. She's a typical teen, enduring creepy freshman, spoiled siblings, confused parents and the Big Blonde on campus who stands between her and the boy of her dreams.
For more about Sixteen Candles and the Sixteen Candles Blu-ray release, see Sixteen Candles Blu-ray Review published by Brian Orndorf on August 22, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Molly Ringwald, Justin Henry, Anthony Michael Hall, Gedde Watanabe, Blanche Baker, John Cusack
Director: John Hughes
» See full cast & crew
Sixteen Candles Blu-ray Review
Jake Ryan doesn't take no for an answer.
Reviewed by Brian Orndorf, August 22, 2012
For his directorial unveiling, John Hughes selected a piece of material held close to his heart; a screenplay that contained beloved topics: the chaos of the nuclear family and the humiliation/redemption of the average American teen. "Sixteen Candles" is largely Hughes testing his gifts behind the camera, inadvertently pioneering a genre that would come to define his career. It's a rough sketch of future triumphs, but "Candles" is a brazenly mischievous, consistently uproarious comedy that christens the devastating Hughes-fu with vivacious results.
Samantha Baker (Molly Ringwald) has finally turned 16, with all the promise of pubescent growth that accompanies the landmark age, and nobody has noticed. With Samantha's extended family trying to marry off her older sister (Blanche Baker), the lonely teen turns her attentions to school crush and popular stud Jake Ryan (Michael Schoeffling), who appears to return the romantic interest, much to her horror. Caught in the middle is geek Farmer Ted (Anthony Michael Hall), a freshman with designs on Samantha, but also fears the senior wrath of Jake. When the night brings a blow-out party, Farmer Ted and Jake join forces to locate Samantha, while the perturbed teen tries to make the most of a crucial birthday that no one bothered to celebrate.
Bringing a multi-flavored wit honed at the offices of the National Lampoon, and working off the success of his 1983 screenwriting effort, the incomparable "Vacation," John Hughes accepted the offer of prestigious feature-film direction duties with utmost seriousness. Perhaps this is why "Sixteen Candles" has a certain fearlessness about it that could only emerge from a newcomer ready to please and unable to discern industry limits.
While hardly a revolutionary screenplay, "Candles" is nevertheless a work of unparalleled comic generosity, merging customary teen hijinks with a newfound sense of timing, character depth, and concentrated group effort. Hughes writes for the rafters, creating a barnstorming effort for his first film that mixes slapstick with truthful teen attitude, rather confidently introducing a sharp edge to the genre that brings the Clearasil crowd to light in a rewarding manner. Hughes refuses to entertain cliché, instead turning every character into a small cradle of authenticity, either in a directly comic fashion or through evocative adolescent impediment. "Sixteen Candles" brings on the laughs in impressive fashion, but Hughes cares about these characters as he brusquely shakes them down for laughs. It's an intoxicating equilibrium the filmmaker would go on to explore to even greater satisfaction as the decade wore on.
Hughes's eye for casting is also a miracle that produces a movie with atypical encouragement. As the central image of self-conscious, gawky teendom, Ringwald's portrayal of Samantha's superficial suffering during this high tide of romantic entanglements and prized breast development (or lack thereof) sets the gold standard for slack-jawed youthful performances. There's never a moment where the audience doesn't believe Samantha's horror as her day goes from bad to worse. While a teen herself during filming, Ringwald conveys the ideal level of angst, facing down a family that's ignored her, a love interest she can't even talk to, and a geek who wants to rent her panties out to avoid paying off a hefty floppy disk wager. Ringwald sells the bejesus out of the role, and Hughes uses her pubescent discomfort to backdrop the film's more robust sequences of indignity.
Truthfully, "Candles" is teeming with outstanding work from the entire troupe, with the possible exception of Schoeffling. Oh, I get the whole "dreamboat" attributes of the actor, but the character is a complete sleaze (casually chatting up how he could "violate" his inebriated girlfriend to Farmer Ted), and Schoeffling is visibly half-asleep during his performance. Mercifully, Hughes fills the rest of the cast out with amazingly game talent, from the infamous Chinese exchange student Long Duk Dong (an adorable Gedde Watanabe) to Samantha's alternately over-protective and pervy grandparents (Billie Bird, Edward Andrews, Carole Cook, and Max Showalter), who run off with the film with the little screentime they're permitted.
Of course, there's Anthony Michael Hall as the Gandalf of the geeks, the lecherous Farmer Ted. If my black magic skills were up to snuff, I would plop Hall into a Ziploc bag at this pristine age and hold onto him forever. Certainly the actor found stronger roles with Hughes as time wore on, but he was never quite as fresh, convincingly clumsy, and as easily led as he was in "Candles." Hall knocks every scene out of the park with his fluid timing and general embryonic appearance. He's a memorable orthodontics-enhanced thorn for the film to abuse as Hughes sees fit.
Sixteen Candles Blu-ray, Video Quality
The VC-1 encoded image (1.85:1 aspect ratio) presentation comes with a heavy Universal catalog title burden. Suffering from a noticeably filtered look, grain has largely been lifted out of the picture, leaving a smoother viewing experience with moments of slight ringing and aliasing. Fine detail isn't nearly as strong as it could be, leaving close-ups less impactful, while costuming lacks deep textures. There are occasional crush issues that render distances and darker outfits on the solid side, with evening adventures clotting unnecessarily. The colorful palette feels slightly dulled, though fabrics do manage to retain their natural vibrancy, while locations offer appropriately festive hues, showing stability. Skintones look on the bloodless side, though Ringwald's natural strawberry pop remains. The print shows only minor wear and tear. The BD isn't perfect, but what's here is definitely an upgrade over previous DVD presentations.
Sixteen Candles Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The 5.1 DTS-HD MA sound mix doesn't possess much home theater firepower, but its modest design fits the buoyant mood of the picture (and its original mix) quite nicely. Surround are rarely engaged in full, tasked to maintain distances and the occasional soundtrack flare-up, showing some life without a consistent presence. Music keeps to a frontal position, sounding full and crisp while managing a soundtrack of hits and era-specific tunes, swelling up when the moment requires. Low-end also shows some alertness with fuller instrumentation. I noticed a few quivery highs on a few of the cuts, but that could be a source issue. Dialogue is satisfactory and comfortably chaotic, with verbal exchanges always easy to understand, even when locked into a busy group dynamic. Atmospherics are stable and expressive without much in the way of movement. Already a thin sonic experience to begin with, the track manages to create excitement and clarity where it counts the most.
Sixteen Candles Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Sixteen Candles Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
In "Sixteen Candles," John Hughes made the high school experience relevant again, resuscitating the horror of forced social functions such as the dreaded afternoon bus ride or evening dance. In 1984, it restored some dignity to teen cinema, bringing along needed playfulness. In 2012, the sensations still resonate, with renewed appreciation for the exceptional performances, a crackerjack soundtrack of '80s pop hits, and the universal concept of a teenager melting down on the most important day of her life.
Sixteen Candles: Other Editions
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Sixteen Candles Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Sixteen Candles Blu-ray - June 4, 2012
As part of its 100th Anniversary this year, Universal Studios Home Entertainment will offer special reissues of selected catalog titles, and the Sixteen Candles Blu-ray will arrive in the September wave. Director John Hughes' comedy centers around young Samantha ...
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