#110) Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

ferris_buellers_day_off

#110) Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

OR “The Best Von Steuben Day Movie Ever”

Written & Directed by John Hughes

Class of 2014

The Plot: Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) is a high school senior who fakes an illness to spend the day with his girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara) and his best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck). An eventful day through Chicago is almost thwarted by Ferris’ sister Jeannie (Jennifer Grey) and the high school’s borderline psychotic Dean of Students Ed Rooney (Jeffrey Jones). Oh, and it’s John Hughes, so all the teens are complex and come of age by the end. Plus it’s got a kick-ass ‘80s soundtrack.

Why It Matters: The NFR calls the film “a career highpoint” for John Hughes and singles out Broderick’s performance.

But Does It Really?: Oh but of course. This film is so charming and innocently fun how could you possibly hate it? It’s not hyperbole; Matthew Broderick is giving the best performance of his career in “Ferris Bueller”. The whole thing is wonderfully performed, masterfully edited by Paul Hirsch, and of course beautifully helmed by John Hughes. The film is an infectious love letter to Chicago, and more importantly to that very magical window of your life right at the end of high school when anything is still possible.

Shout Outs: References are made to “Dirty Harry”, “Star Wars”, “Alien”, and Hughes’ previous film “The Breakfast Club”.

Everybody Gets One: This is the only film on the Registry for pretty much everyone except Matthew Broderick and John Hughes. I’ll give a shout out to Charlie Sheen (though I suspect some of his other ‘80s fare will make the cut eventually) and the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance by a young Louie Anderson.

Wow, That’s Dated: Like so many ‘80s films, “Ferris Bueller” reeks of its decade of origin, most conspicuously the soundtrack and all of the technology in Ferris’ room. On a similar note, how much longer is extending your thumb and pinky going to be the universal symbol for “phone”?

Seriously, Oscars?: No Oscar nominations for anyone, but Broderick did get a Golden Globe nod for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical. He lost to Crocodile Dundee.

Other notes

  • Matthew Broderick was briefly engaged to his on-screen sister Jennifer Grey. So that’s how it is in their family…
  • In addition to being very clever and creative in his endeavors, Ferris benefits from having really oblivious parents.
  • What’s with the roll call in the economics class? There’s about six As, one B (Bueller…Bueller…) and then straight to the Fs (Frye…). How big/small is this class?
  • Everyone in this film is great, but Edie McClurg is the MVP.
  • Depending on your definition, Ferris’ claim that the (then) Sears Tower is the tallest building in the world might be incorrect, even in 1986.
  • This is one of many high school films in which none of the main actors were in high school. Mia Sara comes closest; she was 18 during filming.
  • Just a reminder that Alan Ruck was 29 when he played Cameron. That’s 29 years old. Carry on.
  • When all is said and done, I just don’t get modern art.
  • How the hell did they get the rights to a Beatles song? This was right after Michael Jackson bought the whole catalog and the songs became, to say the least, a bit pricey.
  • “Twist & Shout” is my favorite scene in the film, but then again isn’t it everyone’s favorite?
  • This is one of the rare times where knowing a little bit about a performer’s personal life makes their work much more interesting. If you know what Jeffrey Jones was arrested for in 2002, then watching him take repeated kicks to the face is just lovely.
  • And yes, that’s Charlie Sheen. Blah blah blah tiger’s blood, blah blah blah winning.

Legacy

  • An official attempt at a “Ferris Bueller” TV series, and its Fox bastardization “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose”.
  • We’re never getting a sequel, but we did get a Super Bowl commercial.
  • Not one, but two bands in the 90s.
  • Ben Stein’s acting career.
  • The reason the band Yello never has to worry about running out of money.
  • What became of Ferris? Well I hear he settled down with Patty from Weemawee High School.
  • And of course, every post-credits sequence ever.

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