Movie Reviews

Why Timothy Hutton Is Considered The Godfather Of The Brat Pack

Summary

  • Timothy Hutton is considered the unofficial godfather of the Brat Pack, despite not being a member.
  • “Ordinary People” set the stage for youth-centered films in the 1980s, earning Hutton an Oscar.
  • Hutton’s success early in his career made him a role model for the Brat Pack, despite his aversion to the label.


Content warning: the following article contains discussions of suicide and suicidal ideation


Actor Timothy Hutton is one of the many actors interviewed for the Hulu documentary Brats; though he’s not a member of the Brat Pack, he’s considered its unofficial godfather. The documentary was created by official Brat Pack member Andrew McCarthy, who produced it as a catharsis to process how the “Brat Pack” label affected his career. The coin was termed in a 1985 New York Magazine article by David Blum (who also appears in the documentary). McCarthy interviewed fellow Brat Pack members Demi Moore, Rob Lowe, Ally Sheedy, Emilio Estevez, and others for the film.

The actors dominated the box office with movies like The Breakfast Club (1985), St. Elmo’s Fire (1985), and Pretty in Pink (1986). The movies dawned a new era for Hollywood, in which young people were featured in motion pictures marketed to other young people. Hollywood had previously focused on more adult narratives. A cultural shift happened in the early 1980s that allowed young people to become wildly successful in honestly representing their stage of life in the movies. Though there are certain actors associated with the era of the Brat Pack today, it was really Timothy Hutton who got the ball rolling.


Related

Every Movie Mentioned In The Brat Pack Documentary (& Where You Can Watch Them)

Dozens of classic ’80s movies were mentioned in Brats, but filmmaker and brat Andrew McCarthy focused on those at the center of the Brat Pack.


Timothy Hutton Broke Out A Little Earlier Than The Brat Pack (But Was Only A Few Years Older)

Timothy Hutton Landed His Break-Out Role A Few Years Before Most Of The Brat Pack

While most of the Brat Pack members and their affiliates got big breaks in the mid-1980s, Tim Hutton broke out a little earlier (even though he was only a few years older). Hutton’s first major role was in the 1980 family drama Ordinary People, directed by Robert Redford. In it, he portrays Conrad, an alienated teenager who attempts to take his own life. He starred opposite Mary Tyler Moore, who portrayed his mother, Beth, and Donald Sutherland, who portrayed his father, Calvin. The movie received critical acclaim, earning six Oscars nominations for the 53rd Academy Awards in 1981, winning four.


Ordinary People
was Robert Redford’s debut directing role.

Hutton’s Ordinary People won the Oscar for Best Picture, Robert Redford took home an Oscar for Best Director, and Alvin Sargent won for Best Adapted Screenplay. But the most tremendous significance to the next generation of films is that Tim Hutton, at just 20 years old, won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for Ordinary People. Hutton succeeded in taking the risk of portraying a young person at one of the most vulnerable moments in a person’s life. His success in doing so created a model.


Academy Awards for Ordinary People

Award

Nominee

Won/Nominated

Best Director

Robert Redford

Won

Best Supporting Actor

Timothy Hutton

Won

Best Picture

Ordinary People

Won

Best Adapted Screenplay

Alvin Sargent

Won

Best Supporting Actress

Mary Tyler Moore

Nominated

Best Supporting Actor

Judd Hirsch

Nominated

His Movie Ordinary People Could Be Considered A Proto-Brat Pack Movie

Ordinary People Set Up The Rest Of The Youth-Centered Films Of The 1980s

Timothy Hutton talks with Mary Tyler Moore in Ordinary People


In Brats, Andrew McCarthy argues that “the origins of the youth film” started with Hutton’s role in Ordinary People. While it wasn’t a teen movie, McCarthy notes that the Academy Award-winning film took Hutton’s young character seriously and set the right tone for films to center on the vulnerabilities of young people in the future. Hutton’s Ordinary People could be considered a proto-Brat Pack movie because it created the mold for a young person to take shape on the screenin a way that one had rarely been portrayed before, and with such honesty to the human condition.

Hutton’s Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in
Ordinary People
made him the youngest recipient of the award ever. 40 years later, he’s still the youngest person to win the Best Supporting Actor award.


One common element between the Brat Pack movies of the 1980s is that they focus on genuine portrayals of the tumultuous life of young people. Director John Hughes was particularly gifted at allowing authentic characters to guide his movies, and Robert Redford set the stage for young people to flourish on-screenwith Hutton’s character in Ordinary People. Hutton recounts in Brats how many scripts featured young people in their 20s during the Brat Pack era, when previously Hollywood had rarely allowed them to be the central focus of movies.

Why So Much Of The Brat Pack Looked Up To Tim Hutton

Tim Hutton Had Qualities They Aspired To (But Many Never Achieved)

Timothy Hutton In Brats Hulu Brat Pack Documentary.jpg

The group looked up to the actor because Tim Hutton achieved a level of success early on in his career that the Brat Pack aspired to. After the New York Magazine article came out, many Brat Pack members lamented the loss of a more “serious” career that could have happened had the article not been published. But Tim Hutton evaded the Brat Pack label, as Andrew McCarthy notes in Brats as he winds through the hills to the home where Hutton keeps 60,000 bees. That said, Brats revealed that Hutton also hated the Brat Pack nickname.


Andrew McCarthy specifically looks up to Hutton because he feels like his “showbiz younger brother.” The Pretty in Pink actor recounts in the documentary how Tim was one of the first people in the business he met, and Hutton took McCarthy under his wing. They also did a sci-fi show together by Steven Speilberg called Amazing Stories in the mid-1980s, which solidified their bond early on. McCarthy reveals to Hutton in Brats that he looked up to him because he felt he and the other Brat Pack members metaphorically stood on Hutton’s shoulders.

Brats 2024 Documentary Poster

Brats (2024)

Brats offers an in-depth look at the lives of military children, capturing the complexities of growing up on the move. Through heartfelt interviews and vivid storytelling, the documentary highlights the resilience and adaptability required to navigate frequent relocations.

Director
Andrew McCarthy

Release Date
June 13, 2024

Writers
Andrew McCarthy

Cast
Lea Thompson , Molly Ringwald , Andrew McCarthy , Demi Moore , Ally Sheedy , Rob Lowe , Emilio Estevez , Jon Cryer

Runtime
92 Minutes

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