64 thoughts on “John Hughes or Rob Reiner?

  1. Either Spinal Tap or the Princess Bride all by themselves would carry the day on this one.

  2. A Few Good Men…that courtroom scene is still one of the best. I go with Rob Reiner for the same reasons as Last Lemming. Spinal Tap and Princess Bride are just phenomenal.

  3. In the past few months I have said “You can’t handle the truth!” to my kids quite a few times. They always look at me like I’m crazy.

  4. What is the modern-day Princess Bride? Has there been anything made within the last decade like it? Brilliant, wholesome comedy for all ages? I can’t think of a single film. And no, I don’t put Pixar movies into that category.

  5. Of course both fell completely apart at a certain stage…

    But the strongest of Meathead’s are stronger than Hughes. Hughes counts only if you are particularly taken by his 80’s coming of age films. But I don’t think most of those hold up well. It’s like trying to watch All In the Family. It’s just too tied to that era. Whereas Meathead’s movies are more timeless.

  6. Along those same lines, what’s the recent teen movie equivalent of Ferris Beuler or Pretty In Pink? I think these are underrated.

  7. The question that isn’t being considered here is the source material of Rob Reiner’s best films. It’s rarely original to him. Reiner didn’t write the novel Misery, or the novella Stand By Me is based on, or the book The Princess Bride is based on, or the play A Few Good Men is based on. I think most of Spinal Tap’s brilliance is due to Guest, McKean, and Shearer. If you’ve actually read The Body by Stephen King, or The Princess Bride by William Goldman you realize that much of the dialogue and the story are lifted wholesale. “You can’t handle the truth.” is an iconic line, in my opinion, due to Nicholson and Aaron Sorkin, the writer, not so much Reiner. This is not to say he’s not a good director, but I give Hughes the edge.

  8. Um, a lot of great directors have no hand in writing their own films. Does the fact that Paul Schrader wrote Taxi Driver’s screenplay make it any less of a film or say something bad about Martin Scorsese’s talents as a filmmaker? I don’t have any hard statistics, but I would guess that writer/directors are far less common than directors who have no hand in writing their films.

  9. Brian G is wise. Hughes deserves credit for more than making movies which became culteral icons of an era (which he did, and Reiner, though he made good movies, did not). He was the creative force behind his movies in a way that Reiner wasn’t.

    Mr. Mom (1983)
    National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)
    Nate and Hayes (1983) (with David Odell)
    Sixteen Candles (1984)
    The Breakfast Club (1985)
    National Lampoon’s European Vacation (1985; characters)
    Weird Science (1985)
    Pretty in Pink (1986)
    Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
    Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)
    Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987)
    She’s Having a Baby (1988)
    The Great Outdoors (1988)
    Uncle Buck (1989)
    National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
    Home Alone (1990)
    Career Opportunities (1991)
    Dutch (1991)
    Curly Sue (1991)
    Beethoven (1992) (as Edmond Dantes)
    Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
    Dennis the Menace (1993)
    Baby’s Day Out (1994)
    Miracle on 34th Street (1994)
    101 Dalmatians (1996)
    Flubber (1997)
    Home Alone 3 (1997)
    Reach The Rock (1998)
    Just Visiting (2001) (with Jean-Marie Poire & Christian Clavier)
    Maid in Manhattan (2002; story) (originally titled The Chambermaid) (as Edmond Dantes)
    Drillbit Taylor (2008; story) (as Edmond Dantes)

    Sixteen Candles (1984)
    The Breakfast Club (1985)
    Weird Science (1985)
    Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
    Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987)
    She’s Having a Baby (1988)
    Uncle Buck (1989)
    Curly Sue (1991)

    As you can see, Hughes creative output as Director and writer is phenomenal, and not close to being equaled by Reiner, who didn’t write anything. This doesn’t even include the fact that Hughes also produced most of the movies he directed.

    She’s Having a Baby is an amazing movie that is missing from the list in the post. It should be included as it’s as good as anything Reiner did.

  10. I don’t have any hard statistics, but I would guess that writer/directors are far less common than directors who have no hand in writing their films.

    Hence Hughes’ greatness.

  11. Oh, I love She’s Having A Baby. Unfortunately made the mistake of rewatching it the week I gave birth and nearly died. Haven’t watched it since…

  12. Whoa, Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller? Voting against those films would be voting against my childhood in a way that I am afraid would cause me to cease to exist. Hughes gets my vote.

  13. What is the modern-day Princess Bride? Has there been anything made within the last decade like it? Brilliant, wholesome comedy for all ages? I can’t think of a single film. And no, I don’t put Pixar movies into that category.

    How about Burton’s Big Fish?

  14. BrianJ, I’d agree in a straight-up comparison. But speaking only in terms of a recent fantasy-romance-comedy flick that’s well-written and good fun for all ages, I think Big Fish fits the bill.

    By the way, The Princess Bride is probably the most quotable movie ever.

  15. Planes, Trains & Automobiles is one of the most underappreciated comedies. I hope that someday Paramount will release the original longer director’s cut which I’ve heard is even funnier.

  16. Hence Hughes’ greatness.

    Arguable. He does more stuff and gets to exercise different muscle sets (though being the creative force behind stuff like Maid in Manhattan and Uncle Buck might actually be a strike against him), but it doesn’t mean he’s a greater filmmaker than Reiner. It depends on what criteria we’re using to measure relative quality, and frankly I don’t care enough to devote much more thought to it.

  17. The poll wasn’t about who is the better filmmaker, it just asks you to choose between the two individuals. Based on the fact that Hughes is an accomplished writer, director and producer, and several of his films are truly iconic, he wins. That’s not to say Reiner doesn’t have some truly great movies to his credit, clearly he does. He’s just not as prolific or multi-talented as Hughes.

  18. Big Fish is such a gret movie! I digress. I like Reiner’s films better. I never got into the coming of age movies in the eighties. To me the greatest coming of age film is Almost Famous.

  19. Ok, so the next poll should feature Cameron Crowe vs. John Hughes. I love nearly every movie Cameron Crowe has ever made, and he was the writer of many of them as well, so I would pick him.

  20. I liked Vanila Sky. You’re just parroting the lame critics who never understood it. That’s a recurring problem with Cameron Crowe movies.

  21. Tough call. I was a totally tubular child of the 80s (graduated high school in 1987), so Hughes’s movies were right in my coming-of-age wheelhouse. I remember the exact theatre, as well as each of my movie-attending companions when I first saw 16 Candles (i.e. companion was Mike Tucker, saw it at the Orange Mall 6), Weird Science, Breakfast Club, Some Kind of Wonderful, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller, etc., so indellible are those movies etched in my cellular memory.

    That said, I think Reiner’s films hold up a little better over the years. Hughes’s films are so firmly rooted in place and time (1980s music/fashion/slang, etc.) that they lose a little bit of relevance with each passing year. Reiner’s films transcend time and place better.

    An exception from this stuck-in-the-80s problem from the Hughes canon, of course, is Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, probably Hughes’s best overall film, truth be told, and maybe one of the best 50 comedies ever made. Still holds up, and it still gets a little dusty in the Thurston household when it comes on. John Candy was brilliant, and should have received a Best Supporting Actor nomination.

  22. MCQ, count me in the Vanilla Sky fan club as well. Although, you have to admit, Elizabeth town was a total, unequivocal disaster.

  23. Never, Matt. I actually like Elizabethtown a lot. Maybe it’s because my mom died that same year, but that movie really spoke to me. It’s very quirky, but it’s an absolute hidden gem.

    Please tell me, how can you not laugh your head off at Paul Schneider as cousin Jesse and his band Ruckus? The Freebird funeral? Susan Sarandon as the grieving widow who dances at the funeral? Alec Baldwin as the boss? The suicide exercise bike? The wedding party in the hotel? Kirsten Dunst and Orlando Bloom talking on the phone all night and then deciding to drive towards each other while still talking? The choreographed ash-sprinkling drive through the south with musical accompaniment?

    I loved it. It’s a truly weird, wonderful, funny, touching movie. You need to watch it again with your wife or girlfriend. It’s romantic and funny and has an incredible soundtrack. Give it another chance.

  24. MCQ No. I saw Vanila Sky more then once actually. I realy thought it was horrible. It got to a point that it didn’t matter what it “meant”. Cameron Diaz was horribly miscast. Tom Cruise was wooden. The dialoug was trying to hard. Now I did enjoy Elizabethtown but I felt it was miscast. Of course I live near Elizabethtown so maybe the southern in me would just have prefered actual south

  25. ern actors. The freebird scene! Loved it. Oh and My Morning Jacket apearing in the movie made my day. I love that band. It was a flawed movie to be sure but I didn’t want to tear my hair out after watching it. Which is how I felt after watching Vanilla Sky.

  26. I think Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller will prove to be timeless. We’re still close to the eighties, but generations who didn’t live in the eighties will understand the films, just like we understand films from the 40s or 30s. Language and fashion change, but the emotional underpinnings that make those stories work will remain constant.

    Breakfast Club might very well be the best movie about being a teenager ever made. Fast Times at Ridgemont High might be a close second.

  27. I think Ferris is timeless. There’s nothing particularly 80s about it. It’s also one of the most original films about high school ever made.

  28. Can’t quite forgive Hughes the insufferable ending of Pretty in Pink. In fact, all his movies have a touch of surrender to strip mall norms in them. Even the wonderful Planes, Trains …

    It looks to me that Rob Reiner’s movies, until recently, have been consistently better. Stand By Me? Come on, John Hughes doesn’t have a single movie so convincing on any stage of life, including the Breakfast Club, which seems almost ham-fisted by comparison. (Who buys jock boy taking up with sociopath goth chick … even after her transformation into suburban beauty.) Spinal Tap? Single best parody ever made. Princess Bride? Slam dunk.

    To Vanilla Sky lovers / haters. I don’t think Cameron Crowe gets much credit or blame, as it is a very very close remake of the Spanish film Abre Tus Ojos. (retain Penelope Cruz, lose Tom Cruise = better movie.) ~

  29. As far as 80s teenager coming-of-age movies, I’ll take Better Off Dead over any of the Hughes stuff. It manages to be really weird and funny but still heartwarming at the end.

    I guess I’m one of the few people who doesn’t like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Aside from the majestic performance by Jeffrey Jones, I can pretty much leave the rest of the movie behind. Is there an outtake where the prinicipal finally catches Ferris and punches him in the face? I’d watch that.

  30. Is there an outtake where the prinicipal finally catches Ferris and punches him in the face? I’d watch that.


  31. My memories of Ferris Beuler are sullied somewhat by the fact that Jeffery Jones (and, to a lesser extent, Charlie Sheen) turned out to be a pervy creep.

    I realize that shouldn’t have much to do with the movie, but there it is.

  32. You guys must be the only ones who rooted for the principal in Ferris Beuller’s Day Off. Talk about missing the point. Did you root for Elmer Fudd in the Bugs Bunny cartoons too?

  33. I can’t quite forgive Hughes for thinking raping a drunk girl is hilarious as in Pretty In Pink. The geek is “rewarded” by raping the prom queen. WTF?

  34. I find it strange that everyone is giving Hughes credit as a writer but few mention Rob Reiner as an actor. Not that he’s a great actor, but if we’re considering the total package… Of course I have fond, if fuzzy memories of All in the Family.

    In any case, as lovely as the work of John Hughes is, I have a hard time seeing how it tops This is Spinal Tap, The Pricess Bride, and When Harry Met Sally.

    Frankly, The Princess Bride alone is enough to put him over the top.

  35. Thanks for bringing that up, arJ, we were at a loss for someone to make that point.

    If you’re going to mention Reiner as an actor, then look at Hughes as a producer.

    I would never trash Reiner’s movies. They are some of my favorites, but the point is valid that comparing the body of work of these two individuals is not comparing apples to apples, because of Hughes large list of written works, and because he also wrote and produced most of the movies he directed, whereas Reiner did not. There ought to be credit given for that somehow. I can’t believe that is somehow a controversial notion.

    As wonderful as Princess Bride is, and it is wonderful, it does not alone make Reiner a superior talent to John Hughes, primarily because, as has been pointed out previously, Reiner didn’t write the book or the screenplay, he just directed the movie. Hughes held down all those roles on many of his movies and many of his movies are incredibly original and iconic. On that basis, I still think Hughes wins.

    Thomas, (#36) The film you are referring to is actually called Abre los Ojos and, though it’s oh so hip to prefer the original foreign language versions of films, I like the Cameron Crowe version much better.

  36. MCQ – ah, yeah. I translated Open Your Eyes directly.

    I don’t know if it is oh so hip to prefer foreign versions or not. But I do know that the Spanish version was made first, and that the US version follows it very closely. ~

  37. Ahhh the conflict! I have fond memories of most of those Hughes flicks, but haven’t revisited them since the 80s. I wonder if they would hold up (Ferris might).

    I am a Navy JAG, and I remember fondly seeing “A Few Good Men” as a senior in HS…even tucked it away as something that looked interesting as a career. But, now I can’t stand the movie…(tho, when I teach or give training on a topic, I often will rip a couple of scenes from the movie to ask if the writer/director got it right).

    And, I see myself as LT Junior Grade Weinberg who has “no responsibilities whatsoever…”

  38. John, I made a bunch of Meathead and All in the Family references. I think it counts being in one of the most iconic TV shows of the 70’s. (Although there were a lot of iconic shows from that decade) I’m trying to think of anything equivalent today in terms of cultural influence and politics. I can’t.

    That he was able to make the transition to directing is interesting. Few do. (Although of course Ron Howard did)

    Few are mentioning Sleepless in Seattle which arguably set the tone for romantic comedies for more than a decade and still holds up. I’m not a fan of the genre but even I like it.

  39. Lots of actors make the transition to director. It’s much easier for someone like Rob Reiner, or Penny Marshal, who is the child of Hollywood royalty to become a director than for someone from middle-America with no previous Hollywood connections like John Hughes.

    I’m not trying to continue the feud, I’m just saying…

    Established actors readily get directing opportunities, Costner, Redford, Gibson, Stiller, Eastwood, I mean, should I go on…

  40. Yes, but the question isn’t the opportunity but being both a good actor and director. Some can pull it off while most can’t.

  41. Clark,

    I saw that, which is why I said “few” rather than “nobody”, but your comment didn’t really give him any credit as an actor.

    As for Sleepless in Seattle, I don’t see any need to mention it when When Harry Met Sally is so much more worthy of discussion.

  42. I had to go with Hughes on this one. I mean, I lived his movies.

    Am I the only one whose high school was straight out of a John Hughes movie?

    I knew a punk rock kid who dated a beautiful preppy girl and he got beat up by her jock friends for it. She even jumped on one jock’s back and was hitting him with her purse right in the hallway of the school. (I know because I ended up marrying that guy—the punk, not the jock.)

    I knew a kid who got sent to a mental hospital for teens for awhile because he brought a gun to school, intending to kill himself…ok, so that’s a Pearl Jam song. But it’s also the Breakfast Club.

    I could go on and on.

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