The Brat Pack Movies, Ranked From Worst to Best

The term Brat Pack was coined by writer David Blum in a 1985 New York Magazine story, and went on to define a generation of Young Hollywood, for better or worse. The group, which Blum described at the time as “a roving band of famous young stars on the prowl for parties, women, and a good time,” has never had a formal definition, and there’s plenty of room for debate on who exactly counts as a member. But the Brat Pack inner circle is generally understood to be the following actors: Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy, Demi Moore and Andrew McCarthy.

McCarthy directed the new Hulu documentary Brats, a deeply personal journey down memory lane which explores the cultural moment which produced the Brat Pack phenomenon, and sees McCarthy reuniting with several fellow members. “The Brat Pack is who people say it is,” McCarthy told The Guardian in an interview about the doc, “because the Brat Pack never ‘existed’ in any real way. It’s more an idea of young actors who’d taken over Hollywood—we were the ones that were doing that at that moment, so we’re in the Brat Pack.”

As that quote suggests, there’s no single list of Brat Pack movies that everybody agrees on. The eleven films ranked below all feature at least two core members of the Brat Pack in prominent roles, making them the closest we have to an official canon.

Related: The 'Brat Pack' Members Ranked By Net Worth, From Lowest to Highest

The Brat Pack Movies, Ranked

11. Wisdom (1986)

Brat Pack cast members: Emilio Estevez, Demi Moore

<p>IMAGO / Cola Images</p>

IMAGO / Cola Images

This romantic crime drama marked Estevez’s directorial debut, and sees him starring opposite Demi Moore as recent college grad John Wisdom, who falls into an unlikely line of work as a Robin Hood-esque petty criminal, stealing money from big banks and giving it back to low-income folks by fraudulently erasing loan records. The film was panned by critics, and Estevez later admitted that the reception had been “a very disappointing experience—the outcome of it. I shouldn't say disappointing, I should say devastating.”

10. Class (1983)

Brat Pack cast members: Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy

<p>IMAGO / United Archives</p>

IMAGO / United Archives

This comedy-drama is interesting only in the sense that it’s one of the earliest Brat Pack movies, marking McCarthy’s screen debut and Lowe’s second ever role. McCarthy stars as a high schooler who wins the chance to attend a ritzy prep school, where his roommate Skip (Lowe) helps to bring him out of his shell.

9. Oxford Blues (1984)

Brat Pack members: Rob Lowe, Ally Sheedy

<p>IMAGO / United Archives </p>

IMAGO / United Archives

This sports drama has the distinction of being the only British movie in the core Brat Pack canon, and is a remake of a 1930s MGM movie titled A Yank at Oxford. Rob Lowe stars as an American who follows the woman of his dreams to Oxford University, alongside Ally Sheedy as an American classmate who helps to shift his perspective. It received poor reviews and flopped at the box office, making it one of the more forgettable Brat Pack projects.

8. St. Elmo’s Fire (1985)

Brat Pack cast members: Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson and Ally Sheedy

<p>IMAGO / United Archives</p>

IMAGO / United Archives

No single movie features more of the core Brat Pack group than St. Elmo’s Fire, a coming-of-age comedy-drama which centers on a group of recent Georgetown University graduates grappling to adjust to the responsibilities of adult life. Written and directed by Joel Schumacher, the film was slated by critics after its release and earned Rob Lowe a Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor. Despite all this, it became an unexpected box office smash and is now regarded by many as a cult classic.

7. Fresh Horses (1988)

Brat Pack members: Andrew McCarthy, Molly Ringwald

<p>IMAGO / United Archives</p>

IMAGO / United Archives

Pretty In Pink pair Ringwald and McCarthy reunite in this romantic coming-of-age drama, which follows a college senior (McCarthy) who upends his life after falling for a mysterious and troubled young woman (Ringwald) in a rural part of Kentucky.

6. Betsy’s Wedding (1990)

Brat Pack cast members: Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy

This romantic comedy is written and directed by Alan Alda, and stars Molly Ringwald as the eponymous Betsy, whose working class father (Alda) spirals after discovering just how wealthy her fiancé’s family is, and goes to great lengths to over-compensate. It’s neither a great nor a terrible movie, but Brat Pack fans will have fun watching Ringwald and her Breakfast Club co-star Ally Sheedy reuniting to play sisters.

5. About Last Night… (1986)

Brat Pack cast members: Rob Lowe, Demi Moore

<p>IMAGO / United Archives</p>

IMAGO / United Archives

Based on a David Mamet play titled Sexual Perversity in Chicago, this raunchy romantic comedy stars Rob Lowe and Demi Moore as two Chicago twenty-somethings who try to turn their casual courtship into something more permanent, despite neither of them having been in a serious relationship before. About Last Night… was both a commercial hit and a critical success, with the legendary film critic Roger Ebert writing: "Lowe and Moore, members of Hollywood's 'Brat Pack,' are survivors of last summer's awful movie about yuppie singles, St. Elmo's Fire. This is the movie St. Elmo's Fire should have been. Last summer's movie made them look stupid and shallow. About Last Night… gives them the best acting opportunities either one has ever had, and they make the most of them.”

Related: Best '80s Movies

4. Sixteen Candles (1984)

Brat Pack cast members: Anthony Michael Hall, Molly Ringwald

<p>IMAGO / United Archives</p>

IMAGO / United Archives

John Hughes is the off-camera MVP of the Brat Pack, having either written or directed three out of the 11 movies on this list. This directorial debut set the tone for the string of coming-of-age classics that would define his career. Molly Ringwald, who would go on to become Hughes’s muse, stars as a high schooler who suffers numerous indignities leading up to her sixteenth birthday—starting with her family forgetting all about the occasion—but also draws the attention of a classmate she’s long had a crush on.

3. Pretty In Pink (1986)

Brat Pack cast members: Molly Ringwald, Andrew McCarthy

<p>IMAGO / United Archives</p>

IMAGO / United Archives

Though it’s often talked about as part of John Hughes’s filmography alongside Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club, Hughes actually didn’t direct this classic teen rom-com, though he did write the script and served as a co-executive producer. Molly Ringwald stars as Andie, a high school outcast who is forced out of her social comfort zone when she unexpectedly falls for a rich and popular jock (played by Andrew McCarthy, who directed the Brats documentary which is now streaming on Hulu).

2. The Outsiders (1983)

Brat Pack cast members: Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez

<p>IMAGO / United Archives</p>

IMAGO / United Archives

One of the earliest movies in the canon, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Outsiders is part of the definitive trio of Brat Pack films (alongside St. Elmo’s Fire and The Breakfast Club), and transformed its young male cast into overnight teen idols. Based on the coming-of-age novel of the same name by S.E. Hinton, the movie follows the escalating conflict between two rival teen gangs in a small Oklahoma town. Along with core Brat Pack members Lowe and Estevez, The Outsiders also features a number of Pack-adjacent actors including Tom Cruise and Matt Dillon.

1. The Breakfast Club (1985)

Brat Pack cast members: Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy

<p>IMAGO / United Archives</p>

IMAGO / United Archives

Though it’s hard to pick a favorite from Hughes’s trio of definitive Brat Pack movies, The Breakfast Club has to take the top spot. Not only are all five of its young stars core members of the Brat Pack, but the movie itself is an enduring gem, centering on five high schoolers from wildly different walks of life who end up thrown together for a life-changing Saturday detention. It was one of the biggest box office hits of the '80s, grossing more than $50 million against a $1 million production budget, and remains one of Hughes’s most critically acclaimed movies.

Next, These Are the 60 Best High School Movies of All Time

Advertisement