Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it"

High School senior Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) decides he doesn’t want to go to school so tricks his parents into believing he’s ill. Having a day off, Ferris persuades his hypochondriac friend Cameron (Alan Ruck) to join him in downtown Chicago for the day and the two of them pick up Ferris’ girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara) on the way in Cameron’s dad’s ‘borrowed’ Ferrari. Hot on the tails of Ferris and his friends are Dean of Students (Jeffrey Jones) and Ferris’ sister Jeanie (Jennifer Grey) who is angry that Ferris keeps getting away with skipping school.

Ferris Bueller is one of those films which when I tell people I haven’t seen they look at me like I’ve just called their grandmother a whore. It seems to be one of those film which a lot of people absolutely adore and now I’ve seen it I agree with them that it’s very good but I wasn’t enamoured with it as much as many people are.

I liked Ferris; he’s a cool guy who does what he wants and manages to get away with it. Despite being the popular and successful kid he isn’t arrogant or brash. He seems like a nice guy. I also enjoyed the shenanigans that he and his friends got up to and the way that they managed to remain one step ahead of the Dean. The film is pretty funny but I rarely, if at all laughed out loud. It’s not the sort of film that had me rolling around laughing but I did watch it with a smile on my face. This is the sort of movie which is very quotable and I can imagine that the likes of “Ferris? Ferris? Ferris?” and “Anyone, anyone” were constantly repeated throughout the late 80s. Something else which I liked were the ever expanding wishes of good will sent to Ferris. What began as a guy calling him from school to ask if he’s ok end up on the front page of a Chicago daily in just a few hours. It’s a bit ridiculous but funny. The breaking of the forth wall was also very effective.

One of the great things about the film is its innocence. The kids aren’t skipping school to take drugs or get wasted by the pool; they actually do something with their day off. Instead of standing outside a liquor store trying to get people to buy for them, they go to a ball game and to a gallery. I really liked that aspect of the film. Something else that struck me is that if you knew the characters you could quite happily watch each scene on its own. They’re almost like individual sketches that come together to make a whole rather than scenes in a movie. What I mean by that is that you could watch the restaurant scene on its own and still enjoy it a lot without seeing the rest of the film. This would be the same for a lot of the film’s scenes.

Something I particularly fold of was the soundtrack. The film features songs from the likes of Zapp, Wayne Newton, Sigue Sigue Sputnik, Big Audio Dynamite, The Smiths, John Williams, General Republic, The Flowerpot Men and a terrific central theme, ’Oh Yeah’ by Yello. It’s a great mix of music and works brilliantly with the film. Somewhat surprisingly given the film’s popularity an Official Soundtrack Album has never been released. Staying with music, the highlight of the entire film for me was Ferris’ impromptu rendition of one of my favourite Beatles songs ‘Twist and Shout’ during a German-American parade. The whole city seemed to join in and it’s a scene which should bring a smile to anyone’s face.

The performances are all great here. Matthew Broderick whose film career never really seemed to take off fully after the success of this film is superb, as are his partners in crime Alan Ruck and Mia Sara. Also excelling are Ben Stein as the boring economics teacher and Jennifer Grey as Ferris’ sister. Jeffrey Jones’ gradual deterioration as Ferris keeps one step ahead is great too. There is also a nice little cameo from a young Charlie Sheen, playing a drug addict (ahem). He’s only on screen for two minutes but stood out for me.

One problem I had was the quite sudden transformation of nervous and parent fearing Cameron into who gives a damn Cameron. It felt like a bit of a stretch to me after one day in Chicago, especially as it’s hinted that this is a regular occurrence. This is just a small quibble though in an otherwise fine film. Overall Ferris Bueller is a massively entertaining if not incredibly funny film. It’s the sort of movie I can imagine watching again every year or so and I’m glad I’ve finally caught up with it.    



  1. What did you call my Grandmother? This is one of those films I think its better to watch when you're about the same age as the protagonists, hence why I love it. Have you heard of the fan theory that Ferris doesn't exist, and the whole thing takes place in Cameron's mind? Watch it again thinking that, and everything looks a little different. Alan Ruck made this film for me.

    1. Wow that's an interesting interpretation! Straight away though I'm thinking back to certain scenes and can see it fitting. Taking the car, the phone calls and looking at the girl as she changes. I like that idea. I'll have to watch it again now.

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