A popular high school student skips school and his principal tries to catch him in the act.
I honestly couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve seen “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, but it’s got to be close to double digits at this point. I’m not one of those people who thinks Ferris Bueller is a perfect movie, nor do I think it’s one of the funniest movies ever made- it’s not- but it is a film that I like to come back to every once in a while because I enjoy spending time with the characters and the situations they find themselves in, which, while sometimes a bit overblown, are still enjoyable to revisit. Ferris Bueller is about pitch perfect when it comes to finding an easy-going, feel good film, and, more than thirty years later, it’s still incredibly iconic.
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick, “Election”) is a high school student who decides he wants to take the day off from school, so he tells his parents he’s sick and sets out to have a great day with his best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck, “Twister”) and his girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara, “Legend”), but principal Rooney (Jeffrey Jones, “Beetlejuice”), whom has it in for Bueller, is convinced something is up, and sets out to catch him skipping school to make an example of him.
Maybe it was just the particular mood that this film caught me in during my viewing this time, but I found myself really appreciating Hughes’ writing in this film. To me, this movie sort of feels like it does for teen comedies what “Annie Hall” did for romantic comedies; it reinvented the genre so much that it changed the face of that genre and sort of sets the bar for them. Hughes uses a lot of inventive writing throughout- Bueller talks to us continually throughout the film, giving us insight into the characters around him and also giving us hints towards the bigger themes the movie is trying to address, like paying attention to the important things in life. The film really has no overarching plot other than Ferris and his friends wanting to have a good time and trying not to get caught, so really, the draw of the film is the characters themselves and those weird quirky moments that we, as fans, look forward to (like the weird girl on the bus offering Rooney a pocket gummy bear at the end of the film). Some of my favorite moments are the humor that arises in the background of the film, like the fact that the whole town starts a fundraiser to save Ferris from his feigned illness; or Rooney’s strained relationship with his secretary, whom seems to think Ferris isn’t hurting anyone.
I also think the themes of this film are important, but they’re sort of sloppily handled. This movie is all about how it’s important to have fun in life and enjoy yourself, and not to worry so much about the inevitable trials that come with every day life. I do think that its important to take it easy, but I also think it’s equally important to work really hard to ensure you don’t end up a screw up. This movie sort of hints at the fact that Cameron and Sloane have greater futures in store for themselves, while Ferris, Cameron predicts, will end up working at a burger place. The film struggles to really fails to show any kind of consequence for Bueller’s actions, and while that is part of the fun of the film, it also lessons some of the impact of the themes. I’m not even sure I would change anything about the ending; I just think that the themes that Hughes hinted at weren’t completely developed satisfactorily.
Matthew Broderick steals the show as Ferris; he’s likeable and funny and clever. The now ill-reputed Jeffrey Jones is also quite hilarious as Principal Rooney; I honestly think his prank phone conversation with Cameron is probably one of the best prank phone call scenes I’ve ever seen. There are a few other stand out side characters that get a few chuckles- Ben Stein as the economics professor is pretty funny; I really enjoy Grace, Ed Rooney’s secretary; and there are a few narrow misses with Ferris and his father that always make me chuckle.
“Ferris Bueller” is a classic, and for good reason: it’s light, fun, humorous, and absolutely rewatchable. I wouldn’t go so far as to call this Hughes’ best film, but its certainly in the top three.
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