Sixteen Candles


Sixteen Candles

Critics Consensus

Significantly more mature than the teen raunch comedies that defined the era, Sixteen Candles is shot with compassion and clear respect for his characters and their hang-ups.



Total Count: 39


Audience Score

User Ratings: 256,878
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Movie Info

On the eve of her sister's wedding, suburban teenager Samantha (Molly Ringwald) suffers silently as her family forgets her birthday. Even worse, some total dork (Anthony Michael Hall) keeps propositioning her with sophomoric innuendo when she really craves romantic attention from high-school hunk Jake (Michael Schoeffling). Moving from Samantha's family home as it's invaded by outre relatives to a high-school dance where nothing seems to go her way, this bittersweet teen comedy traces the hopes and disappointments of not only Samantha, but also a host of incidental but memorable characters, from a hapless Japanese exchange student to a prom queen and a posse of barely pubescent nerds. A climactic party scene at which these various strata of young America overcome their rigid hierarchies sets the stage for resolutions both tender and torrid. ~ Brian J. Dillard, Rovi


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Critic Reviews for Sixteen Candles

All Critics (39) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (34) | Rotten (5)

Audience Reviews for Sixteen Candles

  • Jan 01, 2016
    Solid. I feel like this film is a bit overrated as far as John Hughes films go (this is like my 5th favorite of his lol). But still an 80s/teen classic.
    Stephen S Super Reviewer
  • Jul 28, 2015
    A classic 80's teen comedy from one of the greatest directors of the decade John Hughes.
    Kameron W Super Reviewer
  • Sep 07, 2014
    Had its cute moments, but made 1.5 hours feel like 3. And what's up with that weird Chinese / Korean / Japanese guy speaking a madeup Asian language.
    Letitia L Super Reviewer
  • May 04, 2014
    "Sixteen candles make a lovely light, but not as bright as your eyes tonight!". You know that John Hughes had way more than sixteen candles on his birthday cake when he remembered that song vividly enough to get Stray Cats to cover that, because it was too old by 1984, alone. He must not have been a spring chicken at the time this film was made, because at a certain age, you get to be a little racially insensitive, and you don't believe me, just look at Roger Ebert, because he was already a little old when this film came out, and sure enough, he tried to praise "The Donger need food!" as "high comedy". Shoot, I guess that reinforces my delusion that I'm too old to be so young, because I was sure shamelessly laughing at Long Duk Dong, and not just because Gedde Watanabe was almost 30 at the time he played this teen role. Calm down, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" nitpickers, because not every kid in this film is overage, as Molly Ringwold was, in fact, 16 when this film was released... which makes it a little harder to ignore the age differences among her peers. That's not good, because an almost 24-year-old Justin Henry played Ringwald's love interest, which is a little disturbing, at least to me, because everyone else liked this film more, to the point of getting past the disturbances. Hey, as Ebert told us with that "high comedy" statement, enjoyment can make you forgive a lot of things (Hey, he took a "black" wife; no one said that he wasn't racist against Asians), and while I enjoyed this film, I can't quite forgive some of its problems. John Hughes has, or at least should have garnered some notoriety for his subtle stylizing as director, which, alas, with this directorial debut, hadn't had too much time to settle in as subtle, for no matter how entertaining a lot of this film's stylistic touches are, whether it be some unsubtle visuals or, so help me, the sound of a gong following almost most mentions of Long Duk Dong's name (Racist or not, it's still funny to me), or something in between, there are aspects that feel a tad obnoxious in their freneticism and betrayal of subtlety. More traitorous to the subtlety of this drama which aspires for grounded effective are times in which the film gets carried away, not with style, but with substance, presenting certain visuals and dialogue pieces which all but knock you over the head with their reflection of thematic depth, if not presenting all-out histrionics which are hardly as relatable as the basic thematic ideas behind this coming-of-age opus. The film tries to say things that are very relevant, at least to youths, but it often does so in a manner that isn't in the strictest sense believable, meeting many a grounded dramatic piece with melodramatics and certain other elements that are a little too theatrical for their own good, or rather, overblown. The film gets to be dramatically overblown, as well as focally overblown, featuring its fair share of characters who feel unevenly juggled, due to their being unevenly developed in this ensemble character piece which places only so much exposition into the characters, at least to an extent that might compensate for obnoxious elements. The film's characters feature unlikable elements that add to the shaky realism and, of course, to themes on evolution, but there are times where they're more obnoxious than anything, and perhaps can barely help it. When it comes to reward value being held back, it, of course, comes down to natural shortcomings, but not entirely, because the film is so sharp in so many places that it all but transcends natural underwhelmingness, ultimately secured by areas in which the film either lazes out or tries too hard. Overstylized, histrionic, uneven and undercooked, certain elements go a long way in holding the final product back, but only so far, because, make no mistake, the film thrives on its inspired elements, perhaps even its thorough entertainment value, partly reinforced by, if nothing else, a capturing of a soundtrack that defined this film's themes and era. The film's soundtrack was contemporary, so of course it fit the coming-of-age flick in a lot of ways, but where it perhaps could have devolved into clichéd tunes of its time, the film features a solid soundtrack of '80s pop pieces that, on top of being fun by their own right, fit themes of the film like a glove, partly thanks to their being cleverly played up by John Hughes, as director. Hughes' debut directorial performance has its faults and overambition, particularly within stylization, but on the whole, while not revelatory, it does a fine job of exposing Hughes' potential as a director, having plenty of stylistic touches that are actually pretty snappy and colorful, with more thoughtful touches that don't slow down to the point of dullness, while keeping steady enough to immerse. I don't know if the film is quite as moving a many of Hughes' follow-ups, but Hughes' tasteful direction endears thoroughly, as surely as Hughes' style entertains thoroughly, and work with a talented cast further engages. The film features a very diverse roster of colorful characters that is unevenly handled, with obnoxious elements that would be easier to forgive if there was more expository depth, yet are, in fact, made easier to embrace by a cast of talents whose distinguished charisma - whether it be the over-the-top one by the show-stealingly fun Gedde Watanabe, or the uncertain one by the dorky Anthony Michael Hall, or the grounded one by leading lady Molly Ringwald - and, for that matter, chemistry charm profoundly and sell the dynamic of this ensemble piece about as effectively as Hughes does as storyteller. The performances drive much of the film's depths, which is good, considering that this film's subject matter thrives on its human aspects, and while that means that this story is minimalist and therefore slightly inconsequential, the fact of the matter is that this narrative carries much potential as a lively and worthy coming-of-age portrait, done justice by worthy performances on and off of the screen. Even Hughes' script has plenty of inspired touches to do right by worthy subject matter, being messy in its layering and subtlety, but generally sharp with its snappy dialogue and clever humor and comic set piece, as well as generally pretty realized in its maturity as a thoughtful coming-of-age character study. Audacious with elements which are, in fact, realistic, maybe even dramatic, Hughes' scripting highlights are almost powerful in their subtlety and grace, of which there isn't enough for the final product to truly reward, but enough to make an enjoyable and sometimes thoughtful classic of the coming-of-age film genre. When it comes time to blow the candles out, moments of overstylizaion, lapses in subtlety and believability, some unevenness in focus and development, and, of course, natural shortcomings burn the near-inconsequential final product short of rewarding, but a solid soundtrack, stylish direction, charismatic acting and clever writing, all behind worthy coming-of-age subject matter, prove to be enough to make "Sixteen Candles" thoroughly entertaining, often effective and all around worthy, if still improvable as a coming-of-age classic and debut for John Hughes as a legend of the genre. 2.75/5 - Decent
    Cameron J Super Reviewer

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