John Hughes is dead and I’m crying. That isn’t hyperbole, it’s fact. Few comedic directors touched me like he did. And perhaps I’m crying mostly because in an era when films like The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Zack and Miri Make a Porno and Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle are the new comedy standard, pausing to reflect on Hughes’ classics like The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles and Ferris Beuller’s Day Off, is worth treasuring. No one knows how he’ll go down in the pantheon of film lore, but for me, few are as good as him. Industry insiders predict million-dollar funnyman Judd Apatow is set to inherit his throne. But is gross-out humor and sexual frankness really worth bypassing adolescent coming-of-age? Apatow knew about all of this on the ill-fated and incredibly under-appreciated Freaks and Geeks, and I for one, wish he’d go back to that.
Fact of the matter is, no one will ever go back to simple, under-rated, clean humor. John Hughes knew its undeniable appeal and tapped into it every time out. In a 30-year career, he had very few duds. Ask anyone that knows me, there isn’t a line in Home Alone or Home Alone 2 I can’t recite. Even later in his career with flops like Flubber, Drillbit Taylor and Dennis the Menace, Hughes still knew how to make people laugh. Under psuedonym Edmond Dantes he penned the romantic comedy Maid in Manhattan and the dog-lover’s treat Beethoven. Which makes the point very clear, even when he was sucking, he still knew how to make charming films.
Reports say he died after a heart attack while walking in Manhattan. That very point, reminds us all to clearly to cherish every single breathing moment. Life is far too fleeting.