It was 1985 all over again in Los Angeles last night as Patton Oswalt, James Van Der Beek, Mindy Kaling Jennifer Garner and Aaron Paul brought to life the brain, athlete, basket case, princess and criminal famously introduced in John Hughes’ classic, The Breakfast Club.
It was the inaugural evening of LACMA’s new Live Read series, conceptualized by Juno director Jason Reitman, who served as director and narrator for last night’s performance. One which even the most ardent fans of the original would find illuminating since the cast worked from the shooting script, which meant many scenes deleted from the finished film were performed, in some cases, for the first time.
The most notable being a boredom induced hallucinatory sequence that included unicorns, atom bombs and countless psychedelic images quickly intercut with rock music that aimed to illustrate the daydreaming born out of detention.
Elsewhere, a strict attention to detail was required as some of the most iconic lines from the film were improvised on-set, meaning they were absent from the original script and, therefore, last night’s reading. Plus, it’s clear the teen stars injected much of their own vernacular into the piece as some clunky verbiage (Allison calling Andy “dork lips” for one) never made it to the screen.
But perhaps the most noteworthy realization born out of the live-reading (aside from what a shockingly good Bender Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul made) is just how much Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy and Anthony Michael Hall truly brought to their performances.
In the hands of different actors, the temperament of several crucial scenes was completely altered. For example, Mindy Kaling put an entirely new spin on her “basket case” by making her less menacing and more quirky thanks to a sing-songy line delivery that totally worked, but resulted in an entirely different version of the character.
For more information on the fascinating, on-going series, http://www.lacma.org/node/1587!
Last night, a crowd of industry insiders and excited film enthusiasts gathered at the Bing Theater at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) for a live table-read of John Hughes’ The Breakfast Club. This time, instead of Molly Ringwald and the gang, Up in the Air director Jason Reitman gathered an equally eclectic group of actors to reimagine the diverse sterotypes portrayed in the film. A lovely and very pregnant Jennifer Garner was beauty queen Claire (Molly Ringwald), James Van Der Beek was Andy the jock (Emilio Estevez), Mindy Kaling was basket case Allison (Ally Sheedy), Patton Oswalt was Brian the geek (Anthony Michael Hall), and, probably best of all, Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul was the criminal Bender (Judd Nelson). Rounding up the cast as those ever-meddling adults (cue eye-roll) were J.K. Simmons as Carl the janitor, and Michael Chiklis as Mr. Vernon. Reitman himself called out the directions on stage, while images from the film flashed on stage to signal a change of scene.
EW caught up with Reitman after the show, and he said that choosing the 80?s classic for this new experiment was a no-brainer. ”The Breakfast Club was just a perfect fit,” he said. ”I needed a film that was in a contained location with not too many characters, that was funny, that was populous, that had a great script that the audience would have a relationship with…it just hit the nail.”
If the audience’s frequent laughter is any indicator, then Reitman is absolutely right. Consider that nail hit. Many of the laughs came from Hughes’ already fantastic dialogue, which translates very well to stage, but the audience definitely reacted to the forgotten 80?s lingo that runs rampant in the film. It was very surreal seeing the dude from Dawson’s Creek threaten to ‘total’ a guy, and then a few minutes later Jesse Pinkman used “eat my shorts” as an actual, non-ironic insult. Remember when Bart Simpson was a controversial cartoon character? Crazy.
The entire cast did a great job. Most of them stayed true to the original characters, but Kaling’s natural valley girl voice put a slightly different spin on the vodka-loving Allison. If you didn’t read any press coverage before the event, you never would have known that the actors didn’t rehearse. “They just showed up 30 minutes before and started reading,” Reitman said. “Aaron Paul in particular really took the lead and decided he was going to full-on act it out, and everyone went with it.”
Angeleno fans of John Hughes’ 1980s coming-of-age favorite “The Breakfast Club” will have the opportunity to experience the tale a little differently Thursday night.
Filmmaker Jason Reitman (“Juno,” “Up in the Air”) will direct a live reading of the screenplay for the film as part of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s new film series, helping us wonder, once again, if Barry Manilow knows that Mr. Vernon raids his wardrobe.
Mindy Kaling, Patton Oswalt, Jennifer Garner and James Van Der Beek will be on hand to play the roles originated by Ally Sheedy’s goth girl, Anthony Michael Hall’s nerd, Molly Ringwald’s popular chick and Emilio Estevez’s jock, respectively, and give new life to the story of students bonding in the detention room at Shermer High. The actors will offer their interpretations on the classic lines, while Reitman will call out directions on the stage.
Reitman told 24 Frames that he was motivated to stage the unusual event because most filmgoers don’t get a chance to see how actors arrive at their characters. “It’s exciting to see a role developed from start to finish,” Reitman said.
And “The Breakfast Club,” he noted, particularly lends itself to the format. “It’s almost a play — even characters saying these great lines. It’s easy to imagine the scenes as you listen.”
LACMA’s film program has attempted several novel initiatives under new chief Elvis Mitchell. The curator told The Times recently that he wanted to expand the definition of a film series beyond simple screenings. He has high hopes for Reitman’s live-reading concept. “I think in some way [it] will change the way people look at movies,” Mitchell said. (By Wednesday, the reading was listed as sold out.)
And Reitman? He wants to, well, buy another Saturday. The directo aims to organize script reads from other films, with different casts, at LACMA in the coming months. That is, assuming Thursday’s idea succeeds. “I have no idea if it will work. It just seemed like a really interesting experiment,” he said. “If it doesn’t, I guess we’ll be a one-hit wonder.”