Sixteen Candles is a movie I fell in love with as a teenager. It’s incredibly relatable for every girl (and guy) who felt mildly out of place and forgettable in high school, which honestly, is probably every person. Nobody feels like they have it all together in high school, and this is a movie that addresses that. It’s a theme that persists even 35 years later. The Sixteen Candles filming locations look like generic suburban America, which most teens can relate to.
On recent rewatchings of the movie, however, I’ve realized beyond the main theme, Sixteen Candles is movie that has not aged well. It’s actually quite racist and sexist at various points in the movie, and a lot of it is cringeworthy in the age of #MeToo. However, still the movie persists as one of the classic 1980s movies because of the genius of basing a movie around the smallest minutiae of a teenager’s life. Only John Hughes could pull off such a lasting film, despite the changing attitudes around many of the secondary plot points.
All of the Sixteen Candles filming locations are in the Chicago suburbs, like most John Hughes movies. Samantha Baker’s house was filmed at 3022 Payne Street in Evanston, Illinois. It’s on this quiet, shaded street that Long Duk Dong is found the morning after the party by Sam’s grandparents.
We also sought out the location of the iconic wedding scene. The scene that every teenage girl dreams of happening to her. As Samantha leaves the church, she discovers that her family has forgotten her (again)… but Jake Ryan is there waiting for her.
This scene is located at the Glencoe Union Church in Glencoe, Illinois, just down the street from Ferris Bueller’s beach scene. The park across the street from the church is still there, although a few gazebos have been added in the last 30 years.
Of course, we couldn’t leave without a shot of 1980s teen celebrity, Molly Ringwald, in her classically hideous 1980s bridesmaid dress.
While it’s not my favourite John Hughes movie (and quite a bit of the plot would have to change with any 21st century remake), Sixteen Candles is still near and dear to my heart. As a formerly awkward teenager, I’ve felt like Sam one too many times to write off the movie completely.