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Hughes Hunt

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Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” (“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”) That was both of our senior quotes. In fact, that was EVERYONE’S senior quote at Glenbrook North High School, alma mater to writer/director John Hughes and the high school we both attended for four years. His movies have defined a generation. Our generation. Movies like “Ferris Bueller,” “Weird Science,” “The Breakfast Club,” “Sixteen Candles,” “Uncle Buck” and “Home Alone” have taught us the value of ditching school, building female sex robots, smoking up in the library during detention, doing it with the prom queen in the church parking lot, making a giant pancake with a snow shovel and fighting wily burglars. Sure, they might seem like mixed messages, but our female sex robot that cooks us giant pancakes in the morning doesn’t seem to be complaining.

Okay, we cook for her, but that’s not important. What is important is that we grew up on the North Shore. John Hughes shot many of those famous ’80s movies here. We suppose you could say that we have a special connection with these movies. But college has changed things. Now we’re supposed to like snooty uppity movies in the CineArts section of the Evanston Theater like “Amelie,” “In the Bedroom” and “Max Keeble’s Big Move.” As a result of such high culture, we’ve lost touch with the movies we grew up with. Every once and a while, deep inside, we realize that we’d rather see Long Duk Dong fall out of a tree in “Sixteen Candles” than see Halle Berry’s fat son die in “Monster’s Ball.”

So we decided to take a trip, a pilgrimage of sorts, to get in touch with our roots. We decided to go and visit the famous sites on the North Shore from the various John Hughes movies. By piecing these together, we thought we might somehow be able to answer a bigger question. We just don’t know what that question is. What we do know is that we’ve laid out for you the most logical trip itinerary for visiting all these sights in one afternoon.

We began our quest in Northbrook, Ill. Northbrook was originally called Shermerville. Oddly enough, Shermer, Ill., was the fictitious setting for nearly every John Hughes teen movie. This fact was even pointed out by two other visionaries: Jay and Silent Bob. In Kevin Smith’s blasphemous dramedic romp, “Dogma,” Jay and Silent Bob leave New Jersey to search for Shermer in Illinois. And as Jay put it, “there is no Shermer in Illinois.” Well, Jay, you were wrong. Dead wrong.

GLENBROOK NORTH HIGH SCHOOL: 2300 Shermer Rd., Northbrook, Ill. (“Breakfast Club,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”)

John Hughes hated Glenbrook North (GBN). We’ve heard that he is asked to be the distinguished alumnus at graduation every year and has always declined. One needs look no further than his teen movies to know why. We began at the source of John Hughes angst that has fueled his prolific body of work. The reason for our visit, besides picking up girls, was to see locations for shots in both “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and “The Breakfast Club.”

The movie “The Breakfast Club” ends with high school bully John Bender (“Suddenly Susan” icon Judd Nelson) defiantly pumping his fist in the air as he saunters down the football field. We found the football field, we found the saunter, and we found the fist. Okay, it was Dave’s fist; we didn’t find some dead dude’s hand or something. For a brief shining moment, Dave felt like the abused school bully that he never was and never wished to be.

Next we headed to the actual school building to relive a very famous “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” scene: Ferris picking Sloane up at school. This spot is actually the entrance to the Center for the Performing Arts at GBN. But that didn’t stop us from having our parents drop us off at that spot every morning so we could pretend we went to Ferris’s high school. Let’s get one thing straight: We’re obsessed with this movie. There was even a period in Alex’s high school career where his wardrobe consisted only of white T-shirts and sweater vests.

We also reenacted the passionate “exchange” between Ferris and Sloane in front of Cameron’s Dad’s 1961 Ferrari 250GT California. Sure it made us uncomfortable, but we do what we have to for our art. Also, we have a ’94 Ford Taurus … but if you close your eyes when you’re driving it, you’d never know you’re not in a Ferrari (and you’d never know you’re in the left lane!).

The second notable scene at GBN from “Ferris” is the drive the three students take away from the school. In the movie this is a crane shot of Ferris driving away and throwing his hat into the air. Unfortunately, we left our crane in our other pair of pants, so Alex threw his hood out the window as we drove down around the curving road. We were still able to capture Ferris’s exuberance as we drove away from the high school. Of course, Alex had to stop and get his hood out of the slush-filled gutter and reattach it to his jacket. Ah, freedom.

As we drove away from GBN, we spotted the famous “Save Ferris” water tower. We couldn’t help but pull over and admire it. Most Northbrook residents, us included, remembered that period in ’85 when the words “Save Ferris” were cryptically written upon our town’s water tower. If we only knew that such a crappy ska band could have been spawned from this, we would have painted over it when we had the chance. (Yet another reason we need our “Quantum Leap” accelerator to work).

NORTHBROOK COURT: 2171 Northbrook Court, Northbrook, Ill. (“Weird Science”)

Besides being a haven for mall-walkers and a car thief’s paradise, Northbrook Court is the site of two scenes from Hughes’ coming-of-age sci-fi teen sex comedy, “Weird Science.”

After a brief stop at the food court, we reenacted a famous scene from the movie utilizing the troubled talented genius of Robert Downey Jr. In this scene Jr., playing a high school bully, pours a slurpie from an upper level onto Anthony Michael Hall sitting on the lower level of the atrium. His Chaplin-esque performance in this scene rivals only his performance as Chaplin, which was also extremely Chaplin-esque. The Northbrook Court scene ends with Anthony Michael Hall pulling up to the mall in a black Porsche to pick up the sex robot and his buddy. We did one better. We had Dave pull up in his Mom’s Taurus! Dare to Dream.

CAMERON’S HOUSE: 370 Beech St., Highland Park, Ill. (“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”)

Although leaving Northbrook was hard (we got lost) we found our way to a secluded corner of Highland Park where intrigue and mystery were afoot. We found the house where Cameron gives his famous “I’ll go” soliloquy, as well as the garage over the ravine: the final resting place for Cameron’s Dad’s red Ferrari. Seeing the house and garage were, to us, more exciting than last week’s Justice League.

Then we did something we never thought possible. We RANG THE DOORBELL. No one was there. So we took a deeper look. We talked with the man who, for the past five years, has delivered the mail to Cameron’s house. After finding he had been working there for five years, the first question we asked him was, “Were you here when they filmed the movie?” Math was never our strong suit. Regardless, we pressed on. When asked the innocent question of his name, his calm outer shell erupted like a powder keg. “Don’t use my name. Shit like that could get me fired. You know the post office these days.”

We nodded our heads in agreement. But we didn’t know the post office these days. What changes have occurred? What is our government hiding? Why are John Hughes movies crappy now? Question everything!

GLENCOE BEACH: End of Park Sreet on Lake Michigan in Glencoe, Ill. (“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”)

Glencoe Beach was the site of a poignant scene from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” that finds Cameron in a catatonic state. As Ferris is talking to the camera, Sloane tries to revive Cameron. We tried to reenact this scene – with uncomfortable, yet sexy, results. A lady walking her dog stopped and stared at us. We couldn’t have explained it even if we tried.

GLENCOE UNION CHURCH: 263 Park Ave. Glencoe, I
ll. (“Sixteen Candles”)

A few blocks away from Glencoe Beach was the church where Molly Ringwald’s older sister gets married in “Sixteen Candles.” The film ends with Ringwald getting picked up by hunky high school senior Jake Ryan. Hubba hubba.

Here Dave played the role of the young, virginal Ringwald, while Alex, as any good heartthrob would, picked him up at church. At this point, the photographer was quite uncomfortable. We were also upset because we arrived at 1 p.m., missing the church’s pancake breakfast by an hour. Blast!

617 LINCOLN AVE. Winnetka, Ill. (“Home Alone”)

This locale was the most underwhelming of our adventure. The house was small, it didn’t look as red as it was in the movie, and we realized “Home Alone” was a good movie for an 9-year-old, not a 19-year-old. Sure, when we were 9, the movie was great, but also when we were 9 we thought Heathcliff was the shit, so what the hell did we know?

We were so disgusted that we didn’t bother to ring the doorbell even though someone was obviously home. Okay, we were too scared, but that’s not the point. We realized that “Home Alone” was the beginning of the end for John Hughes. We were left with the grim reality that the old guy who shovels the salt in “Home Alone” is probably long dead.

‘HOME ALONE’ CHURCH: At Lake Avenue and 11th Street, Wilmette, Ill.

Okay, listen up, jackass: The church from “Home Alone” is NOT the Alice Millar Chapel on the NU campus. The next tour guide who says this is going to be eating knuckle sandwiches for a week. The church is the Trinity United Methodist Church of Wilmette. We really couldn’t remember what Kevin did there besides hide or something, so we did that. We hid. From our demons. If only for a moment.

‘THE BREAKFAST CLUB’ HIGH SCHOOL: Illinois State Police Station, 9511 Harrison St., Des Plaines, Ill.

Maine North High School, which was abandoned for quite some time, served as the interior for many of the John Hughes teen movies. The most memorable moments involving the high school are the bookend scenes to “The Breakfast Club” where the students are dropped off and picked up from detention. We tried to get inside, but it was locked. Seeing as the building is now an Illinois State Police Station, we probably wouldn’t have seen the locker-filled hallways where the breakfast club snuck around. We reenacted the scene where the jock father, played by Dave in a vintage Bears hat, reams out Emilio Estevez, played by Alex. We truly were “Men at Work.” As we walked down the steps of the station, just as the breakfast club did at the end of their Saturday detention, we realized that our Saturday adventure had come to a close as well.

Upon our return to Evanston, we were filled with many conflicting feelings. On the one hand, our dream pilgrimage was finally complete. We had seen and done it all. We walked in the footsteps of our childhood heroes. On the other hand, from the strange stares we received, we couldn’t help but feel lame, like we were trapped in the past and we clearly had way too much time on our hands. Ah, screw it. These movies are part of us. To deny them is to deny us, and to deny ourselves is like missing an episode of “Night Court” … it’s inconceivable. Bottom line: We’ve learned to accept who we are. And so has our sex robot. Thank you, John Hughes. nyou

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