A newly restored, extras-packed celebration of filmmaker John Hughes’ (“Pretty in Pink” and “Breakfast Club”) directorial debut arrives in Sixteen Candles: Special Edition (Arrow Video, Rated PG, 1.85:1 aspect ratio, 97 minutes, $17.99) for nostalgia fans in need of a dose of frenetic teen angst.
The 1984 archetypal coming-of-age comedy starred an especially pouty Molly Ringwald as Chicagoan Samantha Baker, a high school sophomore with a critical 16th birthday that gets nearly completely forgotten by her family due to her sister Ginny’s (Blanche Baker) wedding.
As Samantha pines for a romance with her current unattainable crush Jake Ryan (Michael Schoeffling), she must contend with a geek named Farmer Ted (Anthony Michael Hall), looking to sow his seeds with her.
Even worse, her grandparents bring into her house Long Duk Dong (Gedde Watanabe), a caricature of an Asian foreign exchange student who sleeps in her room and would cause today’s hyper politically correct culture’s head to explode.
Pop culture aficionados should keep careful watch for appearances by John Cusack (“Con Air”) and Joan Cusack (“Shameless”) as nerds, Bryce Zelda Rubinstein (“Poltergeist”) as a church organist and Jami Gertz (“Square Pegs”) as high schooler Robin.
Hughes’ funny and charming script immediately cemented his role as grandmaster of the 1980s teen experience while preparing him for future projects such as “Breakfast Club” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”
“Sixteen Candles” offers a perfect mix of teen and family life crammed with heartwarming dialogue and enough screwball comedy elements to make it a classic.
The director also offered movie goers an eclectic rock and pop music track loaded with the obscure and hits such as “Happy Birthday” by Altered Image, “True” by Spandau Ballet, “Little Bitch” by The Specials, “Turning Japanese” by The Vapors, “Rebel Yell” by Billy Idol and “Young Americans” by David Bowie, with even the Stray Cats delivering a remake of the Crests’ 1950s classic “Sixteen Candles.”
Arrow takes the comedy to new visual heights with a restoration using the original 35mm camera negatives scanned in 4K resolution to deliver an authentic film grain but still crisp, high definition, screen-filling presentation bathed with color.
Best extras: This packed release first offers owners three versions of the film — the theatrical cut, an extended cut that adds a lunchroom scene (also available to watch as a solo clip) and a home video version that offers an altered musical soundtrack (due to licensing issues of the original DVD release),
Next, new solo interviews with cast and crew abound (almost 40 minutes) include casting director Jackie Burch, composer Ira Newborn, camera operator Gary Kibbe, John Kapelos (Ginny’s husband-to-be Rudy the Bohunk) and filmmaker Adam Rifkin (an extra who shadowed Hughes on the set).
Most special of these is a 20-minute reunion between Mr. Watanabe and Deborah Pollack (Marlene, the romantic interest of Long Duk Dong).
As they talk to each other, often not remembering much about the production specifics, it’s hard not to smile at the goofy chemistry and genuine laughter between two as they share memories about the film and staying connected over the years.
Also, fans get a 38-minute, 2008 archival retrospective on the film for its DVD release that featured interviews with Mr. Hall, Paul Dooley (Samantha’s dad Jim), Haviland Morris (Jake’s girlfriend) and Justin Henry (Samantha’s younger brother Mike); and a new 17-minute visual essay from culture writer Soraya Roberts covering the feminist perspective of the film.
Arrow also tosses in the package a 36-page, full color booklet filled with photos, production and restoration notes, a critical essay on the film by journalist Nikki Baughan and and an essay on the music by pop culture critic Bryan Reesman.