All 12 Brat Pack Movies From The 1980s, Ranked


  • The Brat Pack defined 80s cinema but not all their films were hits, ranging from forgotten to iconic.
  • Twelve official Brat Pack films starred at least two core members of the group.
  • Some Brat Pack movies like “The Breakfast Club” and “Pretty in Pink” are enduring classics, while others like “Blue City” missed the mark.



The Brat Pack ruled the big-screen in the 1980s, as charted in the documentary BRATS — but their actual films ranged from forgettable misfires to cultural touchstones. The Brat Pack was an informal name for a group of young movie stars who, between 1983 and 1990, frequently collaborated with one another on projects. While there were several other films produced in this era that adhered to similar structures that are among the best movies of the 1980s, there are officially twelve movies that are considered to be genuine Brat Pack films, because they star at least two members of the group.

Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, and Ally Sheedy are considered the core members of the Brat Pack, and frequently starred together in films that were often defined by their grounded perspectives on regular people. While some of their movies haven’t aged gracefully, the timeless quality of their best work ensures that they’ll always be a part of cinematic history. Here are all twelve official “Brat Pack” movies, ranked.

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12 Blue City



Blue City is often cited as one of the worst of the Brat Pack films, and the low-point for star Judd Nelson. The film follows Nelson as Billy Turner, a tough guy returning to his small Florida hometown to avenge the death of his father. The film also stars fellow Brat Pack member Ally Sheedy as his love interest Annie, David Caruso as Annie’s brother Joey, and Paul Winfield as the corrupt sheriff Luther Reynolds.

The movie was maligned by critics and was formally considered a box office bomb after it failed to recoup its $10 million budget. Critics at the time were particularly harsh on Nelson’s performance, describing his work in the film as dull and and one-note. The critics aren’t wrong, as Blue City — based on the Ross Macdonald novel of the same name — fails to retain the grit and edge found in the book.

11 Fresh Horses



While Fresh Horses and Blue City both currently have a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of this writing, the critical reception to Fresh Horses was at least more sympathetic to the Andrew McCarthy and Molly Ringwald-led misfire. McCarthy stars as Matt, a college student who forms an unlikely and problematic relationship with Ringwald’s Jewel. The film also features early appearances from Ben Stiller and Viggo Mortensen, as Matt’s friend Tipton and Jewel’s husband Green respectively.

Based on a play by Larry Ketron, Fresh Horses has elements that work, including distinct cinematrophy and direction. However, Fresh Horse‘s characters are largely unlikable and the performances are melodramatic, resulting in a film that has bursts of craft otherwise ground to a halt by frustrating character decisions. Another theatrical bomb and the penultimate Brat Pack movie of the era, Fresh Horses is ultimately not worth the sum of its parts.

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10 Oxford Blues



Oxford Blues stars Rob Lowe as Nick Di Angelo, a Las Vegas hustler who follows the woman of his dreams — Amanda Pays’ Lady Victoria Wingate — to Oxford. A bizarre sports comedy that ends up largely focusing on the Oxford rowing team that Nick joins to impress Victoria, the film also stars Ally Sheedy as the rowing team’s coxswain Rona. Although there are some solid gags in the film, Oxford Blues ultimately fails to recapture the comedic peaks of the film that inspired it, 1938’s A Yank at Oxford.

A big part of the problem is Nick, who remains a fundamentally skeezy character despite Lowe’s efforts to fuse his seedier side with some charm. The film did end up recouping its relatively small budget, but was critically derided. The overall reception to Oxford Blues (it currently has a 25% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes) was lackluster enough to consider Rob Lowe’s first starring role a disappointment.

9 Class



Starring Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Jacqueline Bisset, John Cusack, Virginia Madsen, and Cliff Robertson, Class is a teen comedy that effectively tries to balance the tone of Animal House and The Graduate. The film focuses on McCarthy’s Jonathan, who finds himself in embroiled in a romance with an older woman who turns out to be the mother of his boarding school roommate. The warring genres and problematic elements make it a unwieldy mish-mash of tropes and tones that can’t decide if it wants to be a goofy sex-centric romp or a character-driven dramedy.

The result is a movie that hops between genres too readily and without reason. This drags down a solid cast for lackluster results that nevertheless did well at the box office. Class hints at the eventual fusion of low-brow comedy and grounded characters that would come to define the Brat Pack, but the film can’t find that tonal balance later films would perfect.

8 Wisdom



Wisdom is an interesting example of what the Brat Pack was capable of without any guardrails surrounding them, resulting in a weird but strangely compelling film. Starring and directed by Emilio Estevez alongside fellow Brat Pack alum Demi Moore, Wisdom focuses on John Wisdom. After a felony arrest prevents him from finding steady work, the young man decides to remake himself as a gun-toting Robin Hood-esque criminal, robbing banks and becoming a national sensation alongside his lover, Moore’s Karen.

Wisdom isn’t a very good film, suffering from strange plot turns and a surprisingly bleak tone. However, the ambition on the part of Estevez is somewhat admirable, as the young first-time director takes massive swings that don’t always connect. It is at least a more memorable showcase then some of the other Brat Pack films, and that gonzo approach to action separates it from the drab likes of Blue City. A flawed but unique experiment, Wisdom is perhaps the weirdest of the core-Brat Pack films.

7 St. Elmo’s Fire



Critically maligned upon release but going on to be a major hit for director/co-writer Joel Schmacher, St. Elmo’s Fire has the largest density of Brat Pack members in their prime. The film focuses on a group of friends as they navigate their relationships, employment, and lives after college. The film stars Emilo Estevez, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, Andie MacDowell, and Mare Winningham.

While the surface-level elements are charming, that doesn’t apply to the characters themselves, who are often too openly unlikable to be worth rooting for. It’s a problem that is only exasperated as the film goes on and becomes increasingly melodramatic in the second half. Despite a mixed critical reception, St. Elmo’s Fire proved to be a hit with audiences that helped cement the popularity of the Brat Pack.

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6 Sixteen Candles



One of the most iconic Brat Pack films, Sixteen Candles is a surprisingly sardonic and sweet story that suffers in retrospect from severel dated elements. The film stars Molly Ringwald as Samantha Baker, a lonely teenager who harbors a crush on the popular Jake while pushing away the flirtatious geek, Ted. The directoral debut from John Hughes works largely thanks to Ringwald’s performance. Sam is a charming lead, a love-struck teenager who shifts between comical punching bag and earnest emotion with ease.

The supporting cast works well alongside her, and the script works when it focuses on Sam and her dramas. The problem is that other aspects of the script have aged poorly, with characters like foreign exchange student Long Duk Dong generating controversy for years. The film’s approach to sexuality and consent, while expected from the era, also feels somewhat queasy from a modern perspective. Nevertheless, the film’s success upon release and enduring elements have made it one of the most recognizable entries in the Brat Pack canon.

5 Betsy’s Wedding



Although it was released in 1990 instead of the 1980s, Betsy’s Wedding still fits into the overall Brat Pack archetype and is considered the end of that era of films. Although the movie stars Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy as the titular Betsy and her sister Connie respectively, the movie is actually largely about their father Eddie. Played by Alan Alda, the movie is more of a comedy of errors than a typical teen-centric dramedy. As a result, it feels inherently different to the other entries in the Brat Pack canon.

Written and directed by Alda, the film ultimately benefits from this looser style. It has room for surprising scene stealers, like Madeline Kahn as Eddie’s wife Lola, Joe Pesci as Alan’s sleezy brother-in-law Oscar, and Anthony LaPagila as the earnest mafia recruit Stevie. The broad comedy works better here than it does in other Brat Pack films, benefiting greatly from Alda’s experience with projects like MASH. An enjoyable but somewhat forgettable film, Betsy’s Wedding is a solid goofball closing act for the Brat Pack era.

4 The Outsiders



Considered the first of the Brat Pack films, The Outsiders is rougher around the edges in a way that benefits the purposefully rough nature of the story. Based on the S. E. Hinton novel of the same name, the film follows the lives of a group of troubled teens as they juggle their internal struggles with a harsh and uncaring world. Francis Ford Coppola’s direction is showy in places, but the film is best remembered for the way it cast a realistic spotlight onto a collection of largely grounded and compelling young characters.

Boasting a cast that includes, Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Matt Dillon, Patrick Swayze, Tom Cruise, C. Thomas Howell, and Ralph Macchio, The Outsiders is perhaps best remembered for the influence it had on the genre instead of the film itself. The success of the movie helped set the groundwork for the Brat Pack and other similar teen movies. It also served as a solid dramatic blueprint for films of the era.

3 About Last Night…



A strong romantic-comedy that benefits from a solid screenplay and great casting, About Last Night… adapts David Mamet’s play Sexual Perversity in Chicago for the big-screen. The film focuses on Rob Lowe’s Danny and Demi Moore’s Debbie, a pair of successful Yuppies who try to navigate their relationship. The movie benefits from a cast that feels properly connected to the material, and the strong chemistry between Lowe and Moore works well within the story.

The film’s supporting cast, including James Belushi, Elizabeth Perkins, Megan Mullally, and Catherine Kenner, all flesh out their characters with admirable depth. Described by Roger Ebert as the movie “St. Elmo’s Fire should have been,” About Last Night… benefits from a grounded perspective that gives the characters room to breathe and believable interact. While the characters may be occasionally unlikable, they never become unsympathetic. Instead, About Last Night… retains a solid and chracter driven edge.

2 Pretty In Pink



Pretty in Pink features Molly Ringwald’s most impressive performance in any Brat Pack film, helping elevate the film above many of its peers. She’s not the only one bringing her A-game to the film, either. Ringwald stars as Andie, a sweet-natured girl from the wrong side of the tracks who develops a romance with the wealthy and preppy Blane. Played by Andrew McCarthy, Blane is a surprisingly complex take on the typical yuppie characters of the era.

The film wisely surrounds them with a strong supporting cast, including Jon Cryer’s love-sick Duckie and James Spader as the aggressively cruel Steff. The grounded dramedy does a great job of showcasing the cast in a genuinely compelling story about love, high school, and social divisions. The film also heavily benefits from a strong script by John Hughes, and an all-time great soundtrack.

1 The Breakfast Club



The quintessential Brat Pack film and easily the most enduring film starring members of the group, The Breakfast Club remains a frequent pick for the best movie centered around teenagers ever produced. The film focuses on five teenagers from different social circles who find themselves sequestered together one Saturday morning for detention. Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Ally Sheedy, and Emilio Estevez find unexpected depth in their archetypical roles.

Written and directed by John Hughes, The Breakfast Club was a bonafide smash when it was released, with the film’s deft mix of comedy and drama making it one of the most compelling films of its genre and era. The film has since become a benchmark of the teen genre and a recognizable piece of pop-culture. The Breakfast Club was the best example of what the Brat Pack were capable of as performers, and remains an audience favorite to this day.

BRATS (2024)

Director Andrew McCarthy Release Date June 13, 2024 Cast Lea Thompson , Molly Ringwald , Andrew McCarthy , Demi Moore , Ally Sheedy , Rob Lowe , Emilio Estevez , Jon Cryer

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