“Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
In only a span of six years, John Hughes managed to direct some of the best comedies from the 80’s which surprisingly hold up very well to this day. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is still regarded as a classic in the genre and despite being a simple mainstream movie, Matthew Broderick delivers such an iconic performance that many teens continue to fall in love with his character as the decades pass. The gags are handled with perfect comedic timing and the soundtrack has become such a recognizable tune in pop culture. I don’t know exactly what it is that has made this such a beloved film amongst American teenagers, but it seems to transcend generations over time because of its accessibility. It’s a light comedy about being young and mischievous that simply seems to delight and captivate audiences who are looking for some form of escape. It’s rare for a film with a simple premise like this to continue captivating audiences over time and even those teens who watched it in the 80’s and are now mature decide to go back and revisit it for nostalgic purposes or to introduce it to their now teenage sons. This is just further proof that no one had the comedic touch that Hughes had in the 80’s with his teenage comedies. I still prefer Planes, Trains, and Automobiles as his go to movie, but Ferris Bueller was a delightful experience. I look forward to catching up with some more of his classic films. I remember having seen classic scenes of this movie, but this was my first time watching it from beginning to end and I was delighted and surprised because I didn’t think I would ever like Broderick as much as I did here. This is by far his best performance.
The film takes place in Chicago where we are introduced to Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick), a senior in High School who has decided to take the day off from school by fooling his parents into thinking he’s sick. Ferris constantly breaks the fourth wall and speaks to the audience letting them know what he’s thinking. His plan is so well thought out that even his friends at school think he’s developed a serious condition and are trying to raise money for his treatment. He’s the sort of guy that everyone in school dreams of being and his life motto is simply to enjoy life to the fullest. He personifies the spirit of youth and that is what makes him such a likable guy despite acting irresponsable at times. The only people who don’t believe him are his sister, Jeanie (Jennifer Grey), who is angry everyone keeps on falling for his lame excuses, and the school principal Ed Rooney (Jeffrey Jones) who is determined to discover his lie and make him lose the school year for it. Ferris has everything planned out very carefully and is convinced his plan will work. He calls his best friend, Cameron Frye (Alan Ruck), who has also taken a sick leave, but in his case he’s really feeling bad. Ferris convinces him to come pick him up and together they come up with a plan to help Ferris’s girlfriend, Sloane (Mia Sara), get out of classes. In a hilarious scene the duo call Principal Rooney impersonating Sloane’s father and asking him to give his daughter permission to leave the school because her grandmother has passed away. Ferris then convinces Cameron to take his father’s Ferrari and the adventure begins for the three friends through the streets of Chicago.
Hughes has always excelled as a screenwriter and he is responsible for some of the funniest comedies from the 80’s and 90’s. He didn’t direct as many films, but he has been involved with many scripts. In Ferris Bueller he seems to have written a simple but perfectly executed script of a young teenager who is trying to live life to the fullest. He could’ve come out as cocky, but there is some heart to his character and it becomes incredibly hard not to root for him, especially when Hughes put so much emphasis during the opening scene portraying the dullness of High School life and then introducing Principal Rooney as such a douchebag. The scenes where he is desperately trying to uncover Ferris’s plan are incredibly cartoonish and over the top, but it is funny nonetheless. There are also a few heart felt scenes between Ferris and Cameron which make his character even more likable despite his bad influence. Broderick delivers the performance of his career and there are very few actors who can break the fourth wall the way he did here without interrupting the flow of the story (the other who comes to mind is John Cusack). There is also a great scene in which Ferris covers one of The Beatle’s song in a parade that simply adds to the already amazing soundtrack. Jones is hilarious as Rooney and it’s not often that these over the top villains are portrayed well. He never comes off annoying, and that’s something difficult to achieve. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is a comedy that has transcended time and generations and it may come as a surprise to many considering it’s such a light and simple premise, but Hughes manages to work his magic.