Sunday, January 08, 2017

Brat Pack America by Kevin Smokler



As an 80s movie junkie, seeing a silhouette of Judd Nelson’s character from The Breakfast Club on any merchandise is enough to get my attention. So when I saw this book, I was immediately sold. And the faux VHS look is a sweet bonus for stroking my nostalgic addiction.

Brat Pack America offers plenty of juicy tidbits that will satisfy the most ardent 80s pop culture fans. Kevin Smokler doesn't rely on mere opinions about these beloved teen films, but delves into the “where” of what gave these movies their distinct personalities. This book takes you on a virtual trip to the film “settings” of hits, like John Hughes’ films, as well as other cult classics like Lucas, My Bodyguard, Valley Girl, etc. I can picture riding Clark’s station wagons for a Griswold cross-country to the movie locations. I can hear Clark saying, "Hey look kids, there's the football field where Lucas dropped the catch! And there's the school where The Breakfast Club had detention!", and watch Rusty and Audrey roll their eyes. But I’d be right there with Clark and his wide-eyed enthusiasm, complete with a possessed smile.

Smokler treats every chapter with genuineness, as though he sees through the eyes of a kid still living in the 80s, and he wants us to see its youth phenomena. Brat Pack isn't just a book for long-time fans, but can serve as a starter for anyone curious about the period, including those that brushed off its teen movies as silly. When special aspects and hidden layers are presented the way they are in the book, views can change, especially for those who regard the films as not relatable. Though my own views may be biased, being that I’m an 80s devotee, I think there is much more to these films than folks gave them credit for. And Kevin does a stellar job highlighting this fact.

So throw on your Members Only jacket, sit back, and get this book. And don't be a "butthead", as Biff Tanner would say. You won't regret it. Well, unless you go back in time…and screw up your future. Doc would agree.

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