Five teenagers who don't' know each other spend a Saturday in detention at the suburban school library. At first they squirm, fret and pick on each other. Then after sampling some marijuana, a real encounter session gets underway. The stresses and strains of adolescence have turned their inner lives into a minefield of disappointment, anger and despair.
The catalyst of the group is Bender (Judd Nelson), a rebellious working-class punk who seethes with rage and attacks his peers with sarcasm. A cigar burn on his arm is a sign of the abuse he receives at home.
Andrew (Emilio Estevez) is a Varsity letterman in wrestling. He's spent most of his youth trying to measure up to his father's machismo image of him. This entails winning in athletic competition and preying upon weaker peers. He and Bender clash.
Brian (Anthony Michael Hall) is an unhappy honors student who wishes he could be accepted as a person and not valued just as a brain. Upset over a poor grade in shop, Brian has contemplated suicide rather than live with the ire of his disappointed parents.
Allison (Ally Sheedy) is the eccentric of the group. "My home life is unsatisfactory," she confides. Living in her own fantasy world, Allison can't really tell the difference between the truth and the lies she fabricates.
These teenagers don't like or respect their parents very much. One asks: "My God, are we gonna be like our parents?" Another in the group replies: "When you grow up, your heart dies." But the storm clouds over their lives are really the result of rigid high school caste systems.
Despite an inappropriate music-video sequence and a phony up-tempo finale, The Breakfast Club offers a breakthrough portrait of the pain and misunderstanding which result from the social hierarchy created by youth themselves. The lookers and the jocks are popular and can do whatever they want except relate to those outside their social circle of winners. Eggheads, rebels and eccentrics have no choice but to create their own piddling worlds on the periphery. In this closed society, everyone knows his or her place and accepts it. No wonder so many kids look baffled when adults babble on about the sunny side of adolescence as a blooming season. The youth in The Breakfast Club are serving more time than just a Saturday.