Happy Birthday to Me

By Sherif M. Awad

On the 25th of March, I am celebrating my 52nd birthday. So I thought about remembering Films Taking Place During Birthdays.

Birthdays are a common theme in many films, as they often mark a significant moment in a character’s life, whether it is a celebration, a crisis, or a turning point. In this blog post, we will explore some of the films that take place during birthdays and how they use this occasion to tell different stories.

## Uncle Buck (1989)

This comedy film stars John Candy as Buck Russell, an irresponsible bachelor who has to take care of his brother’s three children while they are away. One of the children is Tia (Jean Louisa Kelly), a rebellious teenager who resents Buck’s presence and tries to sabotage his efforts. The film culminates with Tia’s 16th birthday party, which Buck organizes with the help of his friend Chanice (Amy Madigan). The party is a success, as Buck manages to impress Tia’s friends and fend off her sleazy boyfriend Bug (Jay Underwood). The film shows how Buck grows as a person and bonds with his nieces and nephew through his unconventional but caring ways.

## Happy Birthday to Me (1981)

This horror film follows Virginia Wainwright (Melissa Sue Anderson), a high school student who belongs to an elite clique called the Top Ten. As her 18th birthday approaches, Virginia starts to experience flashbacks of a traumatic accident that left her with brain damage and memory loss. She also becomes the prime suspect when her friends start to die in gruesome ways. The film features a twist ending that reveals the true identity of the killer and the motive behind the murders. The film uses Virginia’s birthday as a catalyst for her psychological breakdown and the unraveling of a dark secret. I saw this is movie on VHS in the 1980s and could not believe that its sweet star Melissa Sue Anderson was the same actress who co-starred in the popular western TV series Little House on the Prairie. 

## The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

This fantasy film is based on the first book of J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic novel The Lord of the Rings. It introduces Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood), a young hobbit who inherits a powerful ring from his uncle Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm). Bilbo decides to leave his home in the Shire on his 111th birthday, which he celebrates with a lavish party attended by many guests. However, he also reveals that he intends to pass on the ring to Frodo, who learns that it is actually the One Ring that can control all other rings of power and that it was forged by the Dark Lord Sauron. Frodo then embarks on a perilous journey to destroy the ring with the help of eight companions: Gandalf (Ian McKellen), Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Legolas (Orlando Bloom), Gimli (John Rhys-Davies), Boromir (Sean Bean), Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin), Merry Brandybuck (Dominic Monaghan), and Pippin Took (Billy Boyd). The film depicts Bilbo’s birthday as an important event that sets in motion the main plot and introduces some of the key characters.

## The Godfather Part II (1974)

This crime drama film is both a sequel and a prequel to The Godfather (1972). It follows two parallel stories: one about Michael Corleone (Al Pacino), who has become the head of his family’s crime empire after his father Vito Corleone’s death; and one about Vito’s early life (Robert De Niro) as he immigrates from Sicily to New York and rises from poverty to power. One of the most memorable scenes in the film is Michael’s son Anthony’s first communion party, which coincides with Michael’s 48th birthday. During this party, Michael deals with various threats from his enemies, such as an assassination attempt by Hyman Roth (Lee Strasberg) and Frank Pentangeli (Michael V. Gazzo); an inquiry by Senator Pat Geary (G.D. Spradlin); and an act of betrayal by his brother Fredo Corleone (John Cazale). The film contrasts Michael’s cold and ruthless demeanor with Vito’s warm and charismatic personality, and shows how Michael loses his family ties while expanding his criminal empire.

## Sixteen Candles is a 1984 American coming-of-age comedy film written and directed by John Hughes in his directorial debut. It stars Molly Ringwald as Samantha Baker, a teenager who faces various humiliations on her sixteenth birthday, including her family forgetting about it, being rejected by her crush Jake Ryan (Michael Schoeffling), and being pursued by a geeky freshman named Ted (Anthony Michael Hall). The film was the first in a series of films by Hughes that focused on the lives and struggles of teenagers in suburban Chicago. The film was a critical and commercial success, earning over $23 million at the box office and receiving positive reviews from critics. It is considered one of the best teen films of all time and has influenced many subsequent films in the genre.   

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Sherif M. Awad
Sherif M. Awad
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