‘Brats’ Documentary Explained: Why Did Andrew Mccarthy Visit David Bloom?

What to make of Brats? On one hand, the documentary appears to be the result of one individual’s own unresolved issues. To describe it poorly, back in the eighties, one Andrew McCarthy got really miffed by an article written by David Bloom. After all these years, Andrew still seems to have it out for David, and he’s now out there to get the journalist. That said, Brats is extremely watchable from the opening minutes. It’s fantastically made, and it almost works in a more cinematic manner than a documentary. Of course, it is particularly appealing if you really have a thing for American pop culture of the eighties, more specifically the teen movies of that era. We’re going to do some introspection here before discussing the ending of Brats, where Andrew McCarthy and David Bloom finally come face-to-face. 


What Was the Brat Pack?

During the eighties, Hollywood witnessed a total shift, with a lot of teen movies starting to appear. With these movies, there arrived a flood of young, exciting actors, most of whom became instantly famous. The young audience started loving these movies, relating to the characters, and loving the actors. And then came an article called “The Brat Pack,” which ruined everything. Well, that might be an exaggeration on my part, but twenty-year-old Andrew McCarthy, star of films like “St. Elmo’s Fire” and “Pretty in Pink,” certainly felt attacked. Penned by New York Times journalist David Bloom, the articles focused on these young actors and their stardom. But it didn’t exactly show the young actors in a divine light. 

Going a little off track here, I decided to read the article before going into the assignment, and while I thought it was not hailing the young stars as gods, Bloom was not quite belittling them either. It was an authentic portrayal of the young and beautiful (and successful) people of the time. Who was in the Brat Pack? Emilio Estevez, aka the unofficial president, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, Molly Ringwald, Demi Moore, Rob Lowe, and, of course, Andrew McCarthy. Other names like Tom Cruise and Sean Penn were also in the mix, but according to McCarthy, it was the seven mentioned who formed “The Brat Pack.” Ironic how Bloom was originally supposed to write about Estevez only but ended up with “The Brat Pack,” involving everyone. The effect of the article was quite severe at that time, with someone like McCarthy being taken by surprise.


What does McCarthy want?

“The Brat Pack” did affect many popular young actors from that era, but McCarthy was probably the one who never really recovered from it. He couldn’t believe an article like that would ever come out and question his talent. Even after as many as thirty years, McCarthy seems to be harboring a grudge. It’s not that his appearance is bitter or anything; in fact, he seems buoyant about the whole thing—meeting every single member of “The Brat Pack” along with some others (like Jon Cryer) who were not exactly a part of it but weren’t too far away either. It’s fascinating to watch McCarthy go on his journey, peppered with nostalgia and retro music from that era. 

What Happens When McCarthy Means The Other Members?

The first stop is Malibu, and it only makes sense to start with Estevez, given that “The Brat Pack” started with him. Even though Estevez and McCarthy are meeting after three decades, there’s enough camaraderie between the two. McCarthy points out that Bloom’s article is a prime reason for him and Estevez connecting so easily, as nothing can change the fact that these two shared an experience all those years ago. It’s strange that McCarthy and Estevez never did a film together. In fact, there used to be a bit of jealousy going on between the two. The new meeting, however, clears all that—it was only a misconception after all!


Watching McCarthy admit to having a crush on Ally Sheedy on camera has to be one of the best cinematic moments of the year (yeah, I know documentary, but still)! It’s absolutely understandable and, to some extent, wholesome—especially the way McCarthy narrates one of his greatest memories of Sheedy dropping him off in her car. It’s bound to make you go all aww for the fifty-nine-year-old young man. Sheedy turns out to be almost the same as her The Breakfast Club character and much less bothered by the article.

While McCarthy’s repeated attempts to get hold of Judd Nelson and Rob Lowe fail, the ever-charming Demi Moore sits down with him and offers an interesting perspective. Unlike McCarthy, Moore’s way of handling the article was much different. Instead of getting hurt and bogged down by it, she chose to take a resilient stand against whatever the article said. For her, it worked as a motivation to do things better. When McCarthy finally gets to meet Rob Lowe, he also echoes Moore’s statement. Lowe further adds that Bloom’s article didn’t stop any of them from having a fruitful career.


Why Does Andrew Mccarthy Visit David Bloom?

It’s really admirable how McCarthy, despite having a personal agenda, keeps emphasizing the overall eighties culture—that includes the music, the parties, the premieres of the movies, and the entire vibe. The late John Hughes, undoubtedly the pioneer of this “teen movie” genre, has a towering presence in McCarthy’s documentary and is mentioned by possibly everyone. I also like how McCarthy brings in a few producers, film critics, and journalists (Malcolm Gladwell is the most notable name) into the fold, all of whom offer their own take on the article. Academy Award-winning Timothy Hutton, the first young actor back in the eighties to get genuinely popular (thus starting this whole trend), also makes an important appearance. So does Lea Thompson (Back to the Future), who was not exactly a part of “The Brat Pack” but was quite close to the orbit.

Despite all these popular people, Brats, at its core, is about McCarthy. It’s about him trying his best to come to a point where he can let go. There’s a lovely scene where he’s buying a cheeseburger and tells the takeaway guy that he’s making a documentary, but he’s unsure what exactly it is about. McCarthy’s honesty has given it a very unique flow and allowed the audience to perceive it in whatever way they like. That’s why McCarthy’s finally meeting David Bloom in the flesh is not surprising at all. And like I mentioned earlier, Bloom was not at all intending to harm anybody with his article. He shares the story of experiencing a wild night (and the day after) with Estevez, Lowe, and Nelson, which effectively culminates in the article titled “The Brat Pack.” The name is also a funny story that involves Bloom himself, along with a bunch of other people eating like maniacs and being labeled “The Fat Pack.” If you read Bloom’s article, you would even see him comparing “The Brat Pack” with “The Rat Pack” from the fifties—not at all in a derogatory way.

I was very relieved to find out that Bloom has no regrets for what he wrote, despite saying some of the things might have been too harsh. But then he was only twenty-nine, an age where people are bound to make mistakes. How does the meeting go for McCarthy? Much better than he would imagine, I would say. Does his issue get resolved? We can’t provide a definitive answer to that, but the end of the documentary does feel like McCarthy is in a much more peaceful state. Finding closure in real life is not that easy, but by the end of Brats, Andrew McCarthy seems to have found it – along with a surprising phone call from Judd Nelson! 

Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra likes to talk about movies, music, photography, food, and football. He has a government job to get by, but all those other things are what keep him going.

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