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Sixteen Candles

Reviewed by Jazmine Mendoza, 17, Social Justice Humanitas Academy (San Fernando)

Sixteen Candles takes me to the 80s through the eyes of Samantha Baker, played by Molly Ringwald, who wakes up expecting her 16th birthday to be the best day of her life.

But that doesn’t happen because her family is too occupied with her older sister’s wedding, which is the next day. Her family not remembering really sucks for Samantha because she knows that no one at school will remember. She’s a nobody, which makes her relatable, because not everybody is a prom queen or jock. Most of us are like Samantha, ordinary. 

At a school dance later that day, Samantha is ignored by her dream guy Jake Ryan while a geek who has a crush on her, played by Anthony Michael Hall, embarrasses her. To get her attention he dances outrageously right in front of her on the dance floor.  Although I feel embarrassed for Samantha, this part always makes me laugh no matter how many times I watch it. His geeky friends are impressed until she runs away. Then they laugh at him because they knew it would’ve been too good to be true. I would have done the same thing as Samantha. 

In the end it wasn’t all bad that the geek did that because they talk later and she eventually learns that nothing should stop her from going after what she wants, just like how daring he was to embarrass himself in front of her to catch her attention. 

Samantha’s situation—being in high school and feeling out of place— doesn’t seem that different from today. There is always doubt, fear and even embarrassment at some point in high school. Even though Sixteen Candles is from the 80s, it’s able to perfectly capture high school drama in a way that’s still relatable today. If you’re wondering if Samantha ever gets with Jake, you’ll have to watch the movie yourself.

Better Off Dead

Reviewed by Brittany Montaño, 14, St. Anthony HS (Long Beach) 

A heartbroken teenage boy, a French exchange student and a mad paperboy, along with bad perms and feathered hair, are just some of the things that make this 80s romantic comedy hilarious. 

In Better Off Dead, Lane Meyer (John Cusack) has been dumped by his first serious girlfriend. He tries to kill himself but his plans backfire and something always goes wrong, which makes it funny, like when he blows up the family’s garage. During all this, Lane meets an exuberant French exchange student named Monique. She helps Lane regain his confidence and prepare to beat the cool jock (who is dating his ex-girlfriend) in a skiing race. 

While attempting to win the race and his ex-girlfriend back, Lane, like any teenager, deals with family problems. Like his mother’s experimental cooking, which actually crawls off the plate in one scene, and the spiteful paperboy, who attacks Lane throughout the movie for his two dollars. The end of this twisted story has a happy ending. Lane wins the race on one ski; there is more, but I will let you find out.

I found this movie on the $5 rack at Target. It looked cool from the cover, because it had Cusack. I watch this movie repeatedly. Although Lane deals with embarrassment from being dumped, it taught me that no matter the obstacle in life, you can overcome it with humor. Like when the paperboy comes to get his money, Lane tells him, “My grandmother dropped acid and she freaked out and hijacked a school bus full of … penguins, so it’s kind of a family crisis … so come back later?”

Movies about teens today are too serious but this movie brings a humorous perspective. I think everyone can relate to this movie. We still act melodramatic about our problems but also laugh at the ones we thought were so important.  

Do the Right Thing

Reviewed by Derek Mejia, 16, Roosevelt HS

Do the Right Thing, a 1989 film directed by Spike Lee, is a powerful examination of racial tension between whites and blacks but also of how much we as humans deny that we have these feelings. 

The film is set on the hottest day of the summer in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bed-Stuy. It starts off slow with everyone waking up to the sound of Mister Señor Love Daddy’s radio show, as they all prepare for their day. Mookie, played by Lee, goes to his job delivering pizzas for Sal’s Famous Pizzeria, while Da Mayor, the neighborhood drunk, drinks his day away and a character named Buggin’ Out complains about Sal not having any “brothers” on the Wall of Fame in his pizzeria. 

The movie builds in tension as Buggin’ Out confronts Sal about the Wall of Fame, which starts a big argument between them that becomes violent. But the film ends on an empathetic note with Mookie and Sal beginning to understand each other. I think Lee ended it that way to show that people in a community have to get along no matter what their values or views are. 

The first time I watched Do the Right Thing two years ago, I was left thinking about the times I’ve experienced someone judging me based on my race or where my parents are from. Do the Right Thing was so realistic that I felt connected to the characters, even Sal because we all try to fight our prejudices. Although the film is set in New York during the 80s, there aren’t a lot of differences between my life and those of the characters. We all hang out with friends and we all have those feelings that we aren’t accepted, because 23 years later there’s still racism. 

This is one of my favorite movies. It reminds you that you are not alone and that there are people out there disgusted by racism. I know I’ve felt alone, but Do the Right Thing always cheers me up and I wouldn’t be lying if I said it made me cry at the end.