Sixteen Candles is a 1984 American coming-of-age comedy film starring Molly RingwaldMichael Schoeffling andAnthony Michael Hall. It was written and directed by John Hughes.


 [hide*1 Plot


High school sophomore Samantha "Sam" Baker struggles to get through the day on her 16th birthday, which her entire family has forgotten about because her older sister, Ginny, is getting married the next day. She is also plagued by infatuation with a popular and attractive senior, Jake Ryan. At school she fares no better when she finds out that a completed "sex quiz," which she tried to surreptitiously slip to her friend, never reached her friend and, unbeknownst to either of them, was picked up by Jake. Sam panics because the quiz contains sensitive information such as she is a virgin and saving herself for Jake.

She has a whole new set of problems when she arrives home to discover all four of her grandparents are staying at the Baker home during the wedding. Worse, one set of grandparents has brought along a bizarre foreign exchange student, Long Duk Dong. The grandparents force Sam to take him along to her school's senior dance that night and, to Sam's amazement, it takes "The Donger" only five minutes to find an unlikely girlfriend — the tall, large-breasted jock, Marlene, nicknamed "Lumberjack." They are found slow dancing in the gym.

A subplot involves a geeky freshman who tries to win a bet with his friends by continually (and unsuccessfully) trying to bed his love interest, Sam. The character is referred to on several occasions in the movie as either "Ted" or "Farmer Ted" but is credited simply as "the Geek." On the way home on the school bus, Sam blows him off by saying, "Go to hell."

In the school auto shop during the dance, Sam and Ted begin talking and Sam confesses her love for Jake. Upon hearing this, Ted tells her that Jake had been asking about her at the dance, and they agree that Sam should just go and talk to him. As she's leaving, Ted reveals the wager to Sam, who agrees to loan him her panties to help him win.

Later (after a $1 admission peepshow of Sam's panties, which Sam finds out about the next day), Ted and his equally unwelcome geeky friends, Cliff and Bryce (John Cusack), go to the senior dance after-party, hosted at Jake's house. When they knock on the door, Long Duk Dong who has come to the party with his new girlfriend greets them. Ted and his gang get in but they make a big mistake by knocking over the jocks' beer can pyramid. Ted and Bryce leave it up to Cliff to deal with the jocks.

Meanwhile upstairs in Jake's bedroom, Jake takes the opportunity to look through the yearbook and finds Sam's photo. He jots down her phone-number on a scrap of paper and calls her, only to be disappointed when her grandparents pick up the phone.

Jake's entire house is completely trashed. At night's end, Jake finds Ted trapped under a table and they begin to talk. Jake inquires further about Sam, and Ted explains the situation. Jake makes a deal with Ted: If Ted lets Jake keep Sam's panties, Jake will let Ted drive home his drunk girlfriend, Caroline Mulford, in Jake's father's Rolls Royce. Jake later uses the excuse of finding them together to break up with Caroline (who had surprisingly fallen for Ted and doesn't mind the break-up very much). Afterward, Jake drives to the church just in time to meet an incredulous Sam after her sister's wedding. The movie concludes with them sharing a kiss over a birthday cake with 16 candles.


Main characters
Supporting characters


John Hughes had asked his agent for headshots of young actresses, and among those he received was Molly Ringwald's. Inspired by it, he put it up over his desk and wrote the film just over a weekend with her specifically in mind for the lead role.[1][2]For the male lead in the film, it had come down to Schoeffling and Viggo Mortensen.[3] For the part of Ted, Hughes saw a number of actors for the role: "Every single kid who came in to read for the part... did the whole, stereotyped high school nerd thing. You know - thick glasses, ball point pens in the pocket, white socks. But when Michael came in he played it straight, like a real human being. I knew right at that moment that I'd found my geek."[4]

Sixteen Candles was filmed primarily in and around the Chicago North Shore suburban communities of Skokie and Highland Park, Illinois during the summer of 1983, when leads Ringwald and Hall were 15 years old.[5] Most of the exterior scenes and some of the interior scenes were filmed at Niles East High School,[6] close to downtown Skokie, the setting for Hall's driving the Rolls Royce.[7] A cafeteria scene and a gym scene, were filmed at Niles North High School. The auto shop scene was filmed at Niles East High School in the auto shop. The Baker house is located at 3022 Payne Street in Evanston. The church (Glencoe Union Church - 263 Park Avenue) and parking lot where the final scenes take place are in Glencoe.[8]

Soundtrack and songs[edit]Edit

Sixteen Candles
Soundtrack album by various artists
Released 1984
Genre Rocknew wave
Length 17:28
Label MCA Records
Producer Jimmy Iovine (16 Candles & Hang Up the Phone), Ira Newborn (Geek Boogie), John Cale (Gloria), & Alex Sadkin (If You Were Here)
Music sample
"Thompson Twins - If You Were Here"MENU   0:00 
Side 1
No. Title Performed By Length
1. "16 Candles"   Stray Cats 2:52
2. "Hang Up the Phone"   Annie Golden 2:59
3. "Geek Boogie"   Ira Newborn & the Geeks 2:48
Side 2
No. Title Performed By Length
1. "Gloria"   Patti Smith 5:54
2. "If You Were Here"   Thompson Twins 2:55

The original soundtrack was released as a specially priced mini album containing only 5 songs. However, the movie actually featured an extensive selection of over 30 songs. Songs from the movie that were not included on the soundtrack EP are as follows:


Critical response[edit]Edit

Sixteen Candles was well received by critics and is considered by many as one of the best films of 1984.[9][10] Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 86% of critics gave it a positive rating, based on 30 reviews.[11] Ringwald's performance was especially praised; Variety called her "engaging and credible"[12] whileRoger Ebert wrote that she "provides a perfect center for the story".[13]


The character of Long Duk Dong was criticized for being racially insensitive and offensive to Asians and others.[14] Alison MacAdam of NPR reports, "To some viewers, he represents one of the most offensive Asian stereotypes Hollywood ever gave America."[15] Asian Americans have complained that they were taunted with quotes of his stilted-English lines.[16] Roger Ebert defended him, writing that Gedde Watanabe "elevates his role from a potentially offensive stereotype to high comedy".[13]

Box office[edit]Edit

Sixteen Candles grossed $23.7 million against a budget of $6.5 million.[17]


In December 1984, Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall both won Young Artist Awards as "Best Young Actress in a Motion Picture" and "Best Young Actor in a Motion Picture" for their roles in the film, respectively becoming the first and only juvenile performers in the history of the Young Artist Awards to win the Best Leading Actress and Best Leading Actor awards for the same film (a distinction the film still holds as of 2012).[18] In July 2008, the movie was ranked number 49 onEntertainment Weekly's list of "The 50 Best High School Movies".[19]


In 2005, Ringwald was reported to be producing a sequel to the film.[20] As of March 2010, Ringwald stated that she thought it was not a good idea to do remakes of great classic films.[21]

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