80s’ Movie Review: Sixteen Candles, a classic or canceled?

Welcome to A Classic or Canceled, a series where I review 80s movies and decide if they hold up in today’s society. 

Today we will be talking about the famous Sixteen Candles, another film directed by John Hughes. This week’s review is unique; it’s the last movie review of the year! I have come so far from my first review in November, and I’m kind of sad to see it end this school year.

As I said before, Sixteen Candles was directed by John Hughes. His movies were very popular during the 80s and 90s. I completely understand why; they’re action-packed and have that “fun teenage movie” appeal overall. Though that doesn’t mean that there aren’t problems with them, visit my reviews on The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink to learn more about John Hughes’ movies.



Sixteen Candles starts off with a girl named Samantha Baker, it’s her birthday, and she’s super excited at first. But she soon finds out that her family forgot her birthday. She goes to school and has a crush on a popular senior named Jake. The movie revolves around Samantha and Jake liking each other while he has a girlfriend. A freshman named Ted desperately tries to get with Samantha. But at the same time, Ted tries to get Jake and Samantha together and talks to both of them one on one. This movie is racist, homophobic, and involves a bunch of sexual harassment. The way some of the characters got away with everything is absolutely mind-blowing. Let’s talk about it.

My Concerns:

There’s an Asian character, of which I will not be saying the name, and he’s a foreign exchange student. He is portrayed as a stereotypical offensive Asian caricature throughout this entire movie. According to Google, “A caricature is a picture, description, or imitation of a person in which certain striking characteristics are exaggerated in order to create a comic or grotesque effect.” There are way too many things wrong with this character. 

First of all, his name is based on male genitalia. He as barely speaks any English, which would be fine if they weren’t making fun of him for it. He was the only person of color in the movie, and they would imitate the way he spoke in practically every scene he was in. Not to mention that his character is a Chinese person being played by a Japanese person. 

In 2018, an article on The Odyssey was written about Sixteen Candles; it goes in-depth about racism and the little amount of representation for people of color. These factors reinforce Hollywood’s stereotypical, racist depictions of Asians as emasculated side characters that are meant to be laughed at because they are “different” or “strange.” ”  This factor also often happens with black characters during scary movies. They are used to “lessen the fear” and cause comedic relief. South Asian people have also fallen victim to this movie tactic. In almost every movie that I see, at least one person of color is portrayed in this way.

“It tells Asians that they are somehow inferior, and it gives non-Asians a pass to reject diversity and tolerance of those who may appear different from them.” This is another thing that ties back to my first example. People of color today are still being used as jokes during movies; this has to stop. 


The next thing I wanted to talk about was the sexual harassment during the movie. When Ted and Samantha first meet, he seems like a bother to her. Ted asks her many uncomfortable questions and even starts to smell her at one point. She is visibly uncomfortable and even insults him, but he doesn’t leave her alone. Ted also randomly makes a bet with everyone else that he can get Samantha’s underwear.

With Ted’s character, they try to make his actions seem innocent because he’s a freshman and genuinely looks young. He has conversations with Jake and his friends about violating girls and how some girls aren’t as “easy” as others. It was disgusting. 

I talked to Brentwood’s librarian, Mrs. Wilson, who was very opinionated about this movie. “I was six or seven when the movie came out, so I didn’t understand much of it. I thought that Sixteen Candles was an incredibly racist and sexist movie as an adult. The way that they depicted Asian people was appalling. The fact that people were paying to see Samantha’s underwear was terrible as well.”  I wholeheartedly agree with her. The way that high school girls were treated and talked about made my stomach turn. They had super unrealistic expectations for these high school girls. 

Final Thoughts:

This movie was not pleasant to watch. Hearing homophobic slurs and seeing the only person of color’s character as a complete fool for comedic relief. The main characters are super sexist and say super concerning things throughout the movie. It was a total mess, in my opinion. 

I will be rating this movie a 1/10, which is generous. I would not watch this movie again. It was not worth my time or my $3.99. This movie was a very unrealistic representation of the high school experience, and it probably made a bunch of teenagers expect something like this to actually happen during high school. I hope that we as humans can do better overall and never let anything like this abomination of a movie ever happen again.