Release Date(s)1984 (April 14, 2020)
Studio(s)Universal Pictures (Arrow Video)
- Film/Program Grade: B+
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A-
- Extras Grade: B+
A perennial home video favorite, particularly among young women who grew up with it in the 1980s and 1990s, Sixteen Candles was the directorial debut of John Hughes, who by this point had established himself as a terrific comedic writer—author of the highly popular National Lampoon’s Vacation released one year before. He was given the opportunity to direct The Breakfast Club, but after the studio saw his script for Sixteen Candles, opted to go with it first.
It’s Sam’s (Molly Ringwald) sixteenth birthday, and nobody in her family seems to remember, including her mother and father (Carlin Glynn and Paul Dooley). Already feeling excluded due to her family’s pre-occupation with her older sister Ginny’s (Blanche Baker) upcoming marriage, Sam is also lovelorn for Jake (Michael Schoeffling), a nice guy two grades ahead of her. Without her knowing, Jake is aware of Sam, but Sam is shy and unsure of herself, particularly due to the presence of Jake’s current girlfriend Caroline (Havilland Morris). Sam is also trying to ward off the advances of the nerdy but very forward Ted (Anthony Michael Hall) and dealing with the foreign exchange student Long Duk Dong (Gedde Watanabe) who has recently moved into her home.
Over the years, the reputation of Sixteen Candles has diminished slightly due to perceived racial insensitivity involving Asian stereotypes, as well as non-PC slang and situations, which is why The Breakfast Club seems to have aged more gracefully. Yet Sixteen Candles offers an honest and comedic look at a young woman who is not pretty enough for societal standards, but manages to snag the guy in the end anyway. In an era when blonde girls seemed to be the most popular, Molly Ringwald is a breath of fresh air with her own style and sense of self. The film also managed to bring Anthony Michael Hall into the fray, who was almost a conduit of sorts for John Hughes himself. The rest of the cast offers many memorable moments and the film’s romantic ending still resonates, but modern viewers under 25 may find Sixteen Candles to be slightly tactless without appreciating the context or recognizing its ingenuous characters.
Arrow Video brings Sixteen Candles to Blu-ray for a second time in the US utilizing a new 4K restoration from the original 35 mm camera negative in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1. This release also includes three versions of the film: the original theatrical version, an extended version that reinstitutes a 2-minute scene cut from the final film, and the home video version which features a completely different soundtrack. The theatrical and extended versions can be selected after pressing play, and the alternate home video version can be found in the bonus materials.
The new 4K restoration presented here is gorgeous. It still looks and feels like a movie from the 1980s without any modern processing to make it appear slicker. Grain levels are tight, helped mightily by a strong encode, and nothing appears overly sharp or waxy like the previous Universal Blu-ray. Detail is much more pronounced, allowing the many facial features and fashions of the era to shine through with newfound clarity. The color palette is also nicely saturated—offering a multitude of hues during the dance, party, and wedding scenes—with every shot offering an abundance of bold swatches of color. Blacks are deep and brightness and contrast levels are more than ideal. It’s also a cleaner and more stable presentation.
The audio selection presents three options: English mono LPCM, English 5.1 DTS-HD, and English mono LPCM for the aforementioned home video version. Optional subtitles are also available in English SDH. The 5.1 track doesn’t offer a remix of the soundtrack, but merely spaces out the film’s score and music. Sound effects and dialogue primarily stick to the front without much movement. The mono track sits comfortably in the center. All three tracks feature clear dialogue exchanges and represent the film well without any obvious instances of leftover damage.
The following extras are also included:
- Additional Scene (HD – 1:28)
- Alternate Home Video Soundtrack
- Casting Sixteen Candles with Jackie Burch (HD – 9:06)
- When Gedde Met Deborah with Gedde Watanabe and Deborah Pollack (HD – 19:20)
- Rudy the Bohunk with John Kapelos (HD – 6:26)
- The New Wave Nerd with Adam Rifkin (HD – 8:19)
- The In-Between with Gary Kibbe (HD – 7:38)
- Music for Geeks with Ira Newborn (HD – 8:19)
- A Very Eighties Fairytale by Soraya Roberts (HD – 17:21)
- Celebrating Sixteen Candles (HD – 37:58)
- Teaser Trailer (HD – 1:30)
- Trailer 1 (SD – 2:50)
- Trailer 2 (SD – 2:42)
- TV Spots (SD – 2 in all – 1:01)
- Radio Spots (HD – 18 in all – 13:42)
- Shooting Script Gallery (HD – 122 in all)
- Production Stills Gallery (HD – 100 in all)
- Poster & Video Art Gallery (HD – 17 in all)
The additional scene from the extended version of the film is presented separately. There’s also the option to watch the film with its alternate home video soundtrack, which due to clearance issues, used different music cues. Casting Sixteen Candles features audio of casting director Jackie Burch speaking about her experiences with the film, including a tidbit about Viggo Mortensen showing up for auditions. When Gedde Met Deborah is a delightful discussion between Gedde Watanabe and Deborah Pollack about their memories making the film. Rudy the Bohunk interviews actor John Kapelos about working with John Hughes and the other actors. In New Wave Nerd, filmmaker Adam Rifkin talks about being an extra on the film and shadowing John Hughes. In The In-Between, camera operator Gary Kibbe talks about his work on the film and how he got into the business. Music for Geeks speaks to composer Ira Newborn about working with John Hughes and his music for the film. A Very Eighties Fairytale is a visual essay by Soraya Roberts that explores the film’s themes and analyzes its more delicate sensibilities. Celebrating Sixteen Candles is a multi-part featurette from 2008 about the film’s legacy. There are also three still galleries to look through. The first contains the film’s shooting script; the second features production stills, promotional shoots, lobby cards, and press photos; and the third features posters, home video artwork, soundtrack artwork, and newspaper clippings. Also included is the film’s shooting script as a .PDF file via BD-ROM.
Within the package is a 36-page insert booklet containing cast and crew information, Bittersweet Sixteen: John Hughes’ Sixteen Candles and the Uncomfortable Truths of Adolescence by Nikki Baughan, Shaping the Sounds of Sixteen Candles by Bryan Reesman, and restoration information. Not carried over from previous releases are the featurettes 100 Years of Universal: The ’80s, 100 Years of Universal: Unforgettable Characters, and 100 Years of Universal: A Lifetime of Memories.
Arrow Video’s Blu-ray release of Sixteen Candles does a fine job presenting the film in the best possible way, with a quality A/V presentation, multiple versions of the film, and a nice of bevy of bonus materials, including the film’s marketing package. All in all, it’s the finest version of the film on home video to date. Highly recommended.
– Tim Salmons