Review: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

de119-ferris1What’s the dream of every high school student? A school day on the town with their friends of course. In other words, the fantasy is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. It’s utterly ludicrous but that’s part of the charm because it is such a fun romp that we forgive it for any flaws it may have.

Ferris (Matthew Broderick) is a charismatic and clever slacker who constantly breaks the fourth wall while hatching elaborate plots to get out of school and pull one over on his parents. He’s continuously pulling fast ones the whole day long and loving every minute of it. Including fake symptoms, dummies, voice recordings, and sound effects. A school-wide collection for the Save Ferris Campaign is passed around due to his illness.

In case you did not catch on yet this is a caricature of the high school life, far from reality, but that does not make it any less enjoyable. In John Hughes high school world there are stuffy and monotone teachers, a sadistic principal bent on catching Ferris red-handed, and a squeaky-voiced secretary a little behind the times. Most importantly of all, Ferris seems to have the world on a string, and his best friend and girl are right beside him to enjoy it all. Not even his sister or Mr. Rooney can thwart his fun, no matter how hard they may try.

Cameron (Alan Ruck) has a knack for the authoritative voices, sports a Red Wings Hockey jersey, and gets pulled into every one of Bueller’s schemes. He takes a lot of grief. Going so far as letting Ferris take out his father’s precious red Ferrari. As it turns out he has a very loud scream as well. Ferris does however, help him gain a little self-respect. Sloan (Mia Sara) is the cool brunette who readily takes part in the day. She’s future wife material but that’s a topic for a different time. On his part Mr. Rooney spends the afternoon getting berated, pummeled, ticketed, and chased all over the neighborhood. All in the name of catching Ferris Bueller in his lie.

The epic day off in the Windy City includes all of the following:
A trek to the observation deck of the formerly named Sears Tower (The tallest building in the world at the time). A pitstop at a ritzy restaurant for one Abe Froman, followed by a Cubs game at Wrigley Field. Art History lovers will be ogling and drooling during a montage where Cameron famously stares intently at Seurat’s work in pointillism. Then, of course, there is the Von Steuben’s Day Parade with perhaps the most famous lip-sync of all time. How I love “Twist and Shout.”

It’s not all great however, with Cameron running into problems with his dad’s car, and it must all come to an end eventually. Ferris shares one last parting kiss with Sloan and the race is on to get back home before he is found out. That’s when a little more luck comes into play. Not to mention a superhuman leap and some sisterly love.

Don’t think less of me but I am not a big fan of The Breakfast Club or Fast Times at Ridgemont High, two 80s teen classics. However, I cannot help but like a Day Off. Matthew Broderick is tremendously memorable, and the sequences in Chicago make for an equally thrilling ride. This might not be a great film, but it certainly has many returning for a second helping and maybe thirds and fourths. Who wouldn’t with a day like that? It’s like a sightseeing tour for the viewer with a little comedy and good old fashioned friendship sprinkled in. A real treat.

4/5 Stars

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