Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ferris Bueller's Day Off (Hughes. 1986)

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."


Remember when I said that John Hughes does not have another film on the 1077 Films to See Before You Die? Well, that was obviously not the case. With a list this large, it is almost impossible to remember everything that it features. Though it has the reputation as one of the most loved and quoted films of the 80's, I actually managed an entire childhood without seeing Ferris Bueller's Day Off. From what I have been told, this is utter blasphemy. I was promised a sweet-heart pop comedy, but I was given a typical "me first" journey through a bunch of now-cliche pop culture references.

Now do not get the wrong idea, this is a film that works on multiple levels. It is, if anything, an incredibly sweet picture. It tells the story of a high school senior named Ferris Bueller and how he managed to trick his parents into letting him stay home from school. And though this plot does seem thin, the much deeper ethos is presented in the character of Cameron Frye.

Cameron, played decently by Alan Ruck, is a high school student who is constantly in the shadow of his father's materialism. His father, who is not shown on screen, has allowed a rare-form Ferrari to become the center of his life- while pushing his son around in the process. With all of that being subtly introduced, we take a look back at Ferris Bueller and see him as an action oriented therapist for his best friend. He is not just playing hookie to see the Chicago sights, he is helping his friend feel any kind of self-worth. It is a much deeper idea than we can see on the surface.

But this is the problem with Ferris Bueller's Day Off- it dwells directly on the surface and never dives into anything meaningful. John Hughes likes to do this in his films which famously include the likes of Sixteen Candles (1984), Weird Science (1985) and The Breakfast Club. These are all cut-and-dry examples of how the MTV generation recognized the parental-teenager gap. Being a teen is so difficult, parents just don't get it. Bleh bleh bleh.

The most ridiculous "John Hughes" moment in this film is the way that Cameron decides to confront his father. I understand that this is not a film that swims in realism, but the entire concept that confronting the heat will solve his problems seems out of this world to me.

It is hard to believe that I have made it this far without praising the performance of a young Matthew Broderick. His dangerously smart, confident and sly portrayal has gone down as one of the finer character works in Pop-film. We all know that Broderick went on to become the toast of Broadway, but his silver-screen charisma shines through in abundance as Ferris Bueller. He may be the only thing about the film that we believe. And like the John Bender's that came before him, he is a lasting John Hughes representation of 80's unconventionality. This is easily one of my favorite performances from any 80's film.

I have seen worse teen films than Ferris Bueller's Day Off , but I have also seen much better from the genre. Though it is far more sweet, it lacks the lasting emotional connections that Hughes created in The Breakfast Club . This is a movie that is only about entertaining..and it does entertain. Full of heart and sentiment- Matthew Broderick turns this film into something more than it looks like. John Hughes is a legend in "Me generation" film-making, Ferris Bueller's Day Off shows you why he deserves that reputation.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off: B-

My Next Film....Clueless (Heckerling.1995)

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