As we count down to the end of 1985, we take a look at three popular videos from this past year: "The Breakfast Club," "Mrs. Soffel" and "Perfect."
THE BREAKFAST CLUB (MCA/Universal, 1985)
A seemingly disparate group of high school students form a bond of friendship while serving Saturday detention together. Among the young cast are Emilio Estevez, Judd Hirsch and Ally Sheedy, all from "St. Elmo's Fire." This is writer/director John Hughes' encore to his previous teen film, "Sixteen Candles." In this one Hughes doesn't manage to make his characters especially interesting to someone outside teen-age, which is somewhat disappointing considering how deftly he did it with "Sixteen Candles," and two of the major players (Anthony Michael Hall and Molly Ringwald) are featured again here. Still, it's mildly diverting with more than a few funny moments.
MRS. SOFFEL (MGM/UA, 1985)
The warden's wife helps two death row inmates escape from a Pennsylvania prison in 1901. Ed Biddle (Mel Gibson) seduces Mrs. Soffel (Diane Keaton), who runs off with him and his brother Jack (Matthew Modine). Much of the film is slow-moving, but director of photography Russell Boyd effectively captures the constrasting images of a stark prison and the beautiful surrounding Pennsylvania countryside. Gibson shows again he's more than just a pretty face; Keaton does her usual solid work, as does rising star Modine ("Birdy"). Directed by Gillian Armstrong ("My Brilliant Career").
A magazine reporter becomes involved with an aerobics teacher while researching a story on health clubs as the singles' bars of the '80s. Aaron Latham's screenplay is based on articles he did for Rolling Stone. John Travolta and Jamie Lee Curtis headline the cast in a story virtually devoid of sympathetic characters. If you don't care about any of the characters, how can you care about the movie? And if John and Jamie are going to fall in love, couldn't it be done with a little more taste? A nude scene done with style would have been far better than what we get: about 25 minutes of Travolta in gym shorts and Curtis in a body suit making faces at each other while they bump and grind in aerobics class. Laraine Newman ("Saturday Night Live") and Marilu Henner ("Taxi") play their roles well, but again, it's difficult to find anyone to like here, including Jann Wenner (the real-life publisher of Rolling Stone), who plays himself. Far from perfect, this one isn't even good.