Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) dir. John Hughes
Starring: Matthew Broderick., Mia Sara, Alan Ruck, Jeffrey Jones, Jennifer Grey
In the special features of the Blu-Ray edition of "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" it’s explained by the film's producer the speed with which John Hughes writes. And this mid-80’s classic was apparently written in two weeks, quickly moving from an idea in his head to final draft to production with amazing speed. The fact is, Hughes’ remarkably profilic output of quality between 1982 and 1992 helped shaped mainstream comedy. Not only did he direct 8 films, he wrote 13 other films, including all three Vacation films and two Home Alone flicks. Now Hughes is a recluse, gone into a Terrence Malick-like hibernation, working as an uncredited script doctor or under a pseudonym.
Well, in his heyday he had the pulse of the youth zeitgeist. After endearing classics “Sixteen Candles” and “The Breakfast Club” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” is more of the fantasy realm of teenage comedy in the vain of “Weird Science”. After a dozen viewings or so the film doesn't quite have the sharpness it did upon first viewing, but "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" still represents an important and highly watchable archive of 80s popular cinema.
Matthew Broderick is the titular hero, Ferris Bueller, a confident overachiever, the kind of person who gets by on charm and amiability – qualities which drives his sister bananas. It’s just like an ordinary day and he decides to play hookey, for no other reason, than 'just because'. When the film opens, he already has the plan meticulously set-up. First he dupes his out-to-lunch parents with ease by playing puppy dog, then he recruits his best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck) into helping him dupe the principal into getting his girlfriend Slone (Mia Sara) out of school too. By mid morning the trio are off in Cameron’s father’s red Ferrari cruising downtown Chicago for a day of adventure. Meanwhile the school principal (Jeffrey Jones) can smell a rat and makes it life's work to take down Ferris and avenge his humiliation.
It's mostly juvenile stuff from Hughes, a fresh change of pace from the self-important melodrama of “The Breakfast Club”. Unlike “Sixteen Candles”, arguably his best film, it’s a largely vacant and disposable film. Of course, not that everything needs to make a point, and for the sake of good wholesome comedy Ferris Bueller delivers.
Hughes plays with the visual style more than usual, crafting some clever scenes with his editor. Broderick as the protag is like Michael Caine in Alfie, breaking the forth wall and talking straight to camera, exhibiting the same smug cockiness – minus the crass women-chasing.
It all makes for an interactive experience, and for an 11 year old seeing it for the first time in 1986, a heroic depiction of the joys of youthful irresponsibility. It's one of those films that gets etched in one's memory. The same probably couldn't be said of anyone of a mature age, and so, like most of John Hughes' film, "Ferris Bueller" has become a generational classic. Enjoy.
"Ferris Bueller's Day Off" is available on Blu-Ray from Paramount Picture Home Entertainment