With so many problems facing teenagers, today even more so, the challenge of day to day existence can seem too difficult for some people, and most films do little to help that sentiment. So it’s great to know that there are movies like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off out there, that don’t try to push themes or agendas on its audience, that are hilarious, uplifting, and ultimately help us see the silver lining.
Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) is a seventeen year old in his last year of high school. One spring morning, Ferris decides the day is too beautiful to let pass by. So, he pulls a sickie, rescues his girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara) from class and gets his depressed friend Cameron (Alan Ruck) out of bed and into his dad’s Ferrari to take to the streets of Chicago for a day they’ll never forget.
But opposing forces are at work, namely Dean of Students Edward Rooney (Jeffrey Jones), who longs to see Ferris held back a year in school, and Ferris’ sister Jeanie (Jennifer Grey), who’s resentful of Ferris’ success at school skipping, all conspiring to sabotage Ferris’ mission to take it easy.
On paper Ferris would come off as an obnoxious childish brat, but thanks to Matthew Broderick’s Golden Globe nominated performance, he becomes a cunning charming seventeen-year-old Peter Pan. He never tries to be funny, which makes him all the funnier. He reveals his thoughts to us with complete honesty and, while hilarious all the time, is also at times remarkably incisive. The whole cast is a pleasure to watch. Jones as Rooney was born to play the classic villain and Jennifer Grey as Jeanie makes a very unattractive character attractive by just not caring how she’d come across, as her character would.
But only Alan Ruck as Cameron is equal to Broderick in acting prowess. Pushing thirty when he played the seventeen year old Cameron, Ruck captures all the mannerisms and insecurities of teenage life, in a performance that is emotive without being OTT, natural without being dull, and is quite simply hilarious.
Ferris Bueller was directed by John Hughes, known to most people of this generation as the writer of Home Alone. But there are three things missing from Home Alone that can be found in Ferris Bueller: humour, heart and solid direction. Hughes’ style permeates the film, letting nothing out of his sight, from the imaginative use of fourth wall breaks to the editing. One brilliantly edited scene that jumps to mind is a side stitching scene where a character is knocked out by another character, and the scene is edited so that it appears the victim falls to the ground in the same time it takes the attacker to run out of the room, down the hall and up the stairs.
What stops this film from being great is a boring relationship between Ferris and Sloane and a certain amount of childish humour (which, in fairness, will have you laughing in spite of yourself). But these are made up for by the single best rendition of Twist and Shout ever heard.
Enjoy the moment is the theme of this film, and I guarantee that you will enjoy every single millisecond of it. However, watching this movie may have an adverse effect on your school attendance.
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