Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Release year: 1986
Director: John Hughes
Screenwriter: John Hughes
Starring: Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck, Mia Sara, Jeffrey Jones, Jennifer Grey, Cindy Pickett, Lyman Ward, Edie McClurg, Charlie Sheen
Ratings: 1 Golden Globe nomination: Best Actor Comedy/Musical (Matthew Broderic)
It’s a beautiful day so high school student Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) is determined not only to take a day off school but also to be accompanied by his beautiful girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara) and his reluctant best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck). Both Ferris’s constantly pissed of sister (Jennifer Grey) and the school principal (Jeffrey Jones) is eager to catch him red-handed but Ferris is one of those people who always seems to get away with everything.
John Hughes’s teen comedy was written in less than a week and shot over three months as the writer/director’s love letter to the city of Chicago. Capturing the city perfectly through the teenager’s day in town, and with both clever and charming performances from especially Broderick (Tower Heist, 2011), Ferris Bueller has not only become a comedy classic but a very beloved one. Hughes (Pretty in Pink, 1986) has shown several times that he had an ability to perfectly capture the youths of his time and their struggle to find their place in life. Ferris Bueller differs from most comedies by its innocence, there is simply nothing mean-spirited about it. Ferris could easily have come of as a brat, with his ability to get away from just about anything, but Broderick manages to make his character clever, charming, and extremely likable. Something you find it hard to imagine anyone else could have pulled off. While Ferris is the laidback type, his girlfriend is the more sophisticated kind, perfectly captured by Sara (Legend, 1985) who despite her young age brings dignity to Sloane. But there is no possible way to not mention Alan Ruck (Twister, 1996) and his heartfelt performance as the hard tested Cameron. Where Ferris represents the lightheartedness of the movie, Cameron represent the more heavy subjects with his moody and depressed Cameron, a task perfectly handled by Ruck who gives good balance to the easy-going Ferris by portraying someone to whom life isn’t as easy as it is to the title characters. He and Ferris’s sister Jeanie, played terrifically by a deliciously sulky and impossible to dislike Grey (Dirty Dancing, 1987), are the only two characters that grow in the movie, meaning they both make a huge impact on both the story and on you as a viewer. As always, the brilliant Jones (Howard the Duck, 1986) is also worth mentioning with his brilliant performance as the menacing principal eager to catch Ferris red-handed. As the only opposition to Ferris, and with Jones making following the character highly entertaining, the school principal is, despite being a side character, one of the people leaving the strongest impact on you. Another brilliant thing about the movie is the way it functions as a guideline on how to break the fourth wall. With Ferris constantly turning to the camera, the movie is like a long lesson in how to pull it off perfectly. Personally, it is one of the finest examples I have seen, where movies using it less has failed Ferris makes it feel natural and it only adds to the coolness that seeps through every pore of this perfect teenage movie. Not just one of the finest teen comedies of the 80s but one of the finest teen comedies period and like Hughes equally excellent teen comedy The Breakfast Club (1985) a timeless classic as relevant today as it ever was.
According to John Hughes, Cameron was based, in large part, on a friend of his in high school. “He was sort of a lost person. His family neglected him, so he took that as license to really pamper himself. When he was legitimately sick, he actually felt good, because it was difficult and tiring to have to invent diseases but when he actually had something, he was relaxed.”
Picture copyright: Paramount Home Video