Ferris Bueller's Day Off review by Tom Blain
Pure Slackin Classic
I am not one to dish out 10s left and right. I dont like to give a perfect score to a movie unless it has had time to age like a fine wine; Thunderbird, perhaps. I sometimes fall under the spell of walking out of a movie theatre thinking PERFECT, but since I started to review for this site, I have tried to ground myself a bit. But I recently rented a classic from my generation- x- who- grew- up- in- the- 80s genre. Its John Hughes best movie and the one that put Mathew Broderick on the film map. It also made it nearly impossible for anyone to look at him without saying he still looks 18ish: Ferris Buellers Day Off.
If you have not witnessed this comic triumph, I strongly urge. Ferris Bueller is a student of Glenbrook North High School (the teaching grounds for WASPy white Chicago burb kids). Ferris is in a league of his own. Ahead of his friends, ahead of his parents, ahead of his principal: essentially ahead of the system as we know it. He is so ahead that he breaks the number one rule of film, which is do not speak into the camera and acknowledge the audience. But then again, his unspoken creed seems to be question society and break the rules so why should rules of film be any different? Maybe speaking into the camera is number two behind the 180 degree rule; Ill have to ask Professor Lopez.
He decides one beautiful morning to fake illness and skip school; something he is a master of, but the excuses are piling up so he will have to make it count. Mr. and Mrs. Bueller buy his dog and pony show like a pair of suckers. As far as they know Ferris is a sick little angel. His plans include his buddy Cameron (who puts up a struggle but is no match for Ferriss powers of persuasion) and his girlfriend Sloane (who is excused with the ole dead grandmother bit). Their totalitarian principal, Mr. Rooney, has been onto Ferris since day one and goes out of his way to try to catch him in the act of truancy. His plans go beyond merely suspending Ferris but making an example out of him by holding him back an entire year. Quite harsh punishment for a smart kid that skips school, but remember this guy is evil (and in real life a pederast).
Ferris and friends journey has become the one day tour of Chicago. During their truancy Ferris and his friends go to a Cubs game, visit the museum of art, sit aside the lakefront, eat at a 5-star restaurant, and even participate in a parade (well that doesnt ALWAYS happen downtown you need timing to be on your side). For a day, they take a break from the doldrums of school to smell the roses and enjoy their youth and friendship. It all falls inline with Ferriss bookend quote: Life moves pretty fast. If you dont stop to look around once in a while, you might miss it.
Say what you want about Hughes. I have said it too. He directs some cutesy films (Home Alone) and some films that seem dated as soon as you move into the real world (The Breakfast Club), but I will be damned if he doesnt do it well and with style. Always in Chicagos Northern burbs, always with a touch of youth, a hint of Frank Kapra (saffron wont do), and always wrapped up neatly in the end with a stop motion then fade to black. In none of his movies does he portray Chicago like Ferris Bueller. The tour Ferris takes through the city and burbs are filled with a number of short montage clips that come straight from John Landis (I see a lot of Blues Brothers in Hughes direction).
The joys of this film are simple: the celebration of youth, and its intelligent triumph over the tyrannical parental/educational institutions in attempt to enjoy the sweeter things in life before they become bitter. Most of the key adults in this film seem to be wrapped up in work (Ferriss parents, Mr. Rooney) or in hobbies (Camerons father) to appreciate taking a day off from your troubles.
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