Why Is The Breakfast Club Rated R? What Parents Should Know Before Letting Their Kids Watch

"The Breakfast Club" helped establish John Hughes and The Brat Pack as dominant forces in 1980s cinema, and the era featured several other collaborations between Hughes and the film's stars: Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson, Anthony Michael Hall, and Ally Sheedy.

The five young actors play high school students sentenced to Saturday detention and come into the day describing themselves in the stereotypical terms their Vice Principal, Richard Vernon (Paul Gleason) sees them; as "a brain, a jock, a princess, a basket case, and a criminal." After a day of bonding, they realize, as star wrestler Andrew Clark (Estevez) puts it, "We're all pretty bizarre, some of us are just better at hiding it, that's all."

While the film has a heartwarming message and centers around young people, it carries an R rating from the MPAA, mostly for its frequent use of profanity. The film also has a substantial amount of bullying throughout and some explicit discussion of sexual activity, so parents may want to keep these things in mind when watching with younger children. 

All of the sexual content in The Breakfast Club is conversational

There is no nudity or explicit sexual content in "The Breakfast Club," although Bender (Judd Nelson) and Claire (Molly Ringwald) kiss at the end of the film. In one scene, he hides under the table where she sits and her underwear is shown. In the original edit of the film, he also puts his head between her legs but those frames have been cut from the currently streaming version. 

In another scene, he gives an account of what he speculates a date between Claire and another boy would have been like, complete with explicit descriptions of sexual acts. Later in the film, Allison (Ally Sheedy) vaguely describes having sex with her psychiatrist. 

The characters also tease Claire and Brian (Anthony Michael Hall) about losing their virginity, and they smoke a joint together in the library. Bender describes parental abuse at home and shows a burn on his arm that he says came from his father's cigar. In a Reddit AMA, RIngwald confirmed rumors that Nelson was almost fired for carrying the bullying off-screen at times. "This is true," she wrote. "I think Judd was doing the method actor thing during rehearsals. He was wearing Bender's clothes and trying to annoy me. I was fine but John Hughes was very protective of me."

Bullying is constant throughout the film, with Bender the usual culprit. However, Andrew (Emilio Estevez) describes a prank where he duct taped another student's buttocks together resulting in serious injury, although the incident is not shown. Vice Principal Vernon also bullies Bender, shoving him in the back and challenging him to a fight.