Sixteen Candles

1984 film by John Hughes
This article is about the film. For the song, see 16 Candles (song).

Sixteen Candles

Theatrical release poster

Directed by

John Hughes

Written by

John Hughes

Produced by

Hilton A. Green
Michelle Manning
Ned Tanen


Molly Ringwald
Anthony Michael Hall
Michael Schoeffling
Haviland Morris
Gedde Watanabe
Paul Dooley
Carlin Glynn
Blanche Baker
Justin Henry


Bobby Byrne

Edited by

Edward Warschillka

Music by

Ira Newborn


Universal Pictures
Channel Productions

Distributed by

Universal Pictures

Release date

May 4, 1984 (1984-05-04)

Running time

93 minutes


United States




$6.5 million

Box office

$23.6 million

Sixteen Candles is a 1984 American coming-of-age comedy film starring Molly Ringwald, Michael Schoeffling, and Anthony Michael Hall. Written and directed by John Hughes in his directorial debut, it was the first in a string of films Hughes would direct centering on teenage life. The film received positive reviews from critics and was a box office success, earning $23.6 million against a $6.5 million budget, and launched Ringwald to fame.

Sixteen Candles Soundtrack album by various artists Released



new wave






Jimmy Iovine
Ira Newborn
John Cale
Alex Sadkin

Side 1 No. Title Performed By Length 1.

\"16 Candles\"Stray Cats2:52


\"Hang Up the Phone\"Annie Golden2:59


\"Geek Boogie\"Ira Newborn & the Geeks2:48

Side 2 No. Title Performed By Length 1.

\"Gloria\"Patti Smith5:54


\"If You Were Here\"Thompson Twins2:55

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:

\"Snowballed\" – AC/DC
\"Today I Met the Boy I\'m Gonna Marry\" – Darlene Love
\"Love of the Common People\" – Paul Young
\"Kajagoogoo\" (Main Title Song) – Kajagoogoo
\"Happy Birthday\" – Altered Images
\"Kazooed on Klassics\" – Temple City Kazoo Orchestra
\"Dragnet\" – Ray Anthony and His Orchestra
\"Rumours in the Air\" – Night Ranger
\"Filene\" – Ira Newborn (knockoff of Madness\' Our House)
\"Peter Gunn\" – Ray Anthony and His Orchestra
\"True\" – Spandau Ballet
\"Wild Sex (In the Working Class)\" – Oingo Boingo
\"Little Bitch\" – The Specials
\"Growing Pains\" – Tim Finn
\"When It Started to Begin\" – Nick Heyward
\"Lenny\" – Stevie Ray Vaughan
\"Whistle Down the Wind\" – Nick Heyward
\"Ring Me Up\" – The Divinyls
\"Love Theme from The Godfather\" – Carlo Savina (conductor)
\"Turning Japanese\" – The Vapors
\"Rev-Up\" – The Revillos
\"Farmer John\" – The Premiers
\"Theme from New York, New York\" – Frank Sinatra
\"Young Guns (Go for It)\" – Wham!
\"Rebel Yell\" – Billy Idol
\"Lohengrin Wedding March\" – Bavarian Staatsoper Munich Chorus and Orchestra
\"Young Americans\" – David Bowie
\"Tenderness\" – General Public

Home media

Pre-2003 releases of the film featured a re-scored soundtrack due to rights issues. This wasn\'t until 2003 when the film was released on DVD with the original theatrical soundtrack intact albeit remixed in 5.1. In 2008, the film was again released on DVD as a \"Flashback Edition\" with a new featurette titled \"Celebrating Sixteen Candles\".

In 2012, the film was released on Blu-ray for the first time as part of Universal\'s 100th Anniversary with the 2008 featurette carried over, along with two new features highlighting the impact of Universal Studios: \"The 80s\" and \"Unforgettable Characters\".

In 2019, Universal re-released the film on Blu-ray in a digipak highlighting its 35th anniversary. The disc was the same 2012 release with nothing new added. In that same year, Arrow Video announced their release with a new 4K restoration.


Box office

In its opening weekend the film grossed $4,461,520 in 1,240 theaters in the United States and Canada, ranking second. By the end of its run, Sixteen Candles grossed $23,686,027 against a budget of $6.5 million.

Critical response

Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 81% of critics gave it a positive rating, based on 43 reviews with an average rating of 7.1/10. The website\'s critical consensus reads: \"Significantly more mature than the teen raunch comedies that defined the era, Sixteen Candles is shot with compassion and clear respect for its characters and their hang-ups\". Metacritic gave the film a score of 61 based on 11 reviews, indicating \"generally favorable reviews\".

Ringwald\'s performance was especially praised; Variety called her \"engaging and credible\" while Roger Ebert wrote that she \"provides a perfect center for the story\" in \"a sweet and funny movie\".

Janet Maslin of The New York Times called the film \"a cuter and better-natured teen comedy than most, with the kinds of occasional lapses in taste that probably can\'t hurt it in the circles for which it is intended. The middle of the film wastes time on a bit more house-wrecking and car-crashing than is absolutely necessary, and there are some notably unfunny ethnic jokes. But most of the movie is cheerful and light, showcasing Mr. Hughes\'s knack for remembering all those aspects of middle-class American adolescent behavior that anyone else might want to forget.\"

Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four and called it \"the best teenage comedy since last year\'s Risky Business\", saying it was \"certain to draw a lot of laughs, but the guess here is that it also will offer comfort to young girls and boys who feel awkward. And comfort and moments of recognition are in short supply in teenage movies, which often portray a world of violence and sexual mastery that is a lie.\"

Pauline Kael wrote in The New Yorker, \"It doesn\'t amount to much, and it\'s certainly not to be confused with a work of art or a work of any depth, but the young writer-director John Hughes has a knack for making you like the high-school age characters better each time you hear them talk.\" Sheila Benson of the Los Angeles Times stated that \"Vacation worked, for all its raunchiness. Sixteen Candles\' mixture of the sympathetic and the synthetic, the raucous and the racist, doesn\'t. At least not for me ... it flails about, substituting chaos and raunchy language for any semblance of wit.\"

Gary Arnold of The Washington Post wrote, \"Hughes isn\'t vigilant or deft enough to prevent the dramatic focus of attention from shifting at about the halfway point; he can\'t quite finesse the letdown that sets in when the engaging teen-age heroine, Samantha, delightfully embodied by Molly Ringwald, is allowed to become almost a subsidiary character in the second half of the story. Nevertheless, Sixteen Candles blends an idiosyncratic screwball imagination with a flair for updated domestic comedy and scenes of intimate, quirkily affectionate character interplay.\"


A 1984 review in The New York Times criticized the character of Long Duk Dong for being \"unfunny\" and a \"potentially offensive stereotype\" of Asian people. In 2008, Alison MacAdam of NPR wrote, \"To some viewers, he represents one of the most offensive Asian stereotypes Hollywood ever gave America.\" Asian Americans have complained that they were taunted with quotes of his stilted-English lines. At the time of the film\'s release, Gedde Watanabe defended the character of Dong as being distinct from \"submissive, smart\" stereotypes of Asians at the time. Hughes argued that he was parodying foreign exchange students and their American host families in general rather than foreigners or Asians specifically.

In an article published in Salon, Amy Benfer considers whether the film directly condones date rape even though no sexual activity is established, consensual or otherwise. After the party scene, Jake tells Ted that his girlfriend Caroline is \"in the bedroom right now, passed out cold. I could violate her ten different ways if I wanted to.\" He encourages Ted to drive her home saying, \"She\'s so blitzed she won\'t know the difference.\" When Caroline and Ted wake up next to each other in the car, Caroline says she\'s fairly certain they had sex though neither of them remember it. Benfer writes, \"The scene only works because people were stupid about date rape at the time. Even in a randy teen comedy, you would never see two sympathetic male characters conspiring to take advantage of a drunk chick these days.\"

Author Anthony C. Bleach has argued that one possibility for Caroline\'s emotional and physical ruin in the film \"might be that she is unappreciative of (or unreflective about) her class position\", adding that, \"What happens to Caroline in the narrative, whether her sloppy drunkenness, her scalping, or the potential for sexual coercion, seems to be both a projection of Samantha\'s desire to acquire Jake and become his girlfriend and a project of the film\'s desire to somehow harm the upper class.\"


In December 1984, Ringwald and 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 retains as of 2014). The movie is ranked number 8 on Entertainment Weekly\'s list of \"The 50 Best High School Movies\".

Proposed sequel

In 2003, USA Network was reportedly developing a sequel to the film produced by Buffy Shutt and Kathy Jones.

In 2005, Ringwald was said to be producing a sequel after having turned down previous offers. \"I couldn\'t see how it would work. Now, it seems right.\" By 2008, Ringwald was campaigning for the sequel, but said she was uncomfortable doing the film without the involvement of Hughes who, at that point, was not interested. Hughes died in 2009.

In 2022, a project inspired by Sixteen Candles titled 15 Candles entered development for Peacock. It is executive produced by Selena Gomez along with writers/executive producers Tanya Saracho and Gabriela Revilla Lugo.


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