John Hughes proves once more that he understands the teenage experience through Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) which he wrote and directed. It is a story about Ferris (Matthew Broderick) who fakes an illness in order to enjoy a beautiful day in Chicago to the fullest. He is joined, somewhat reluctantly by his best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck), and enthusiastically by his girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara).
Above all else, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is a comedy. Pure and unadulterated comedy, no drama, no dashes of mystery. Just a few teenagers figuring their lives out through a series of comedic events. John Hughes uses classic humor themes such as misunderstandings and close calls with authority figures to bring out the laughs from his audience.
Although this is a very light-hearted film, it does have a message you should take to heart: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” In a way, it’s the popular carpe diem, however, this lesson is more about taking joys in the mundane and being spontaneous every once in a while. One of the main vehicles of displaying this ideal is the development of Cameron’s character as the story progresses.
Characters definitely take the main stage in this film. What would Ferris Bueller’s Day Off be without Ferris? The amazingly charismatic, magnetic, high school senior who is also probably the luckiest guy on the face of the earth? For that matter, what would the movie be without his anxious sidekick Cameron? Let’s face it, we all wish to be like Ferris Bueller (and, I don’t know about you guys, but I grew up to be more like Cameron—love of hockey to boot).
Hughes concentrated on ensuring that this movie was not only aesthetically pleasing but also highlighted the comedic effects well. He absolutely crushes the fourth wall in this film which in itself is hilarious. His close up shots of faces for reactions only add to the giggle-fest. On the other hand, the framed shots inside of the Art Institute of Chicago were marvelous, specially the closeup competition between Cameron and The A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte Painting. The sweeping shots of Chicago and the movement towards his characters from the cameras were interesting and cheeky.
Between bluffs, bravado, and legitimate destruction of property, the most important conflict is man vs. self. Particularly, the development and conflicts of Cameron and Bueller’s sister Jeanie. Cameron, bless him, is a ball of anxiety and has a hard time relaxing, even in their spree around Chicago. Jeanie on her end, is very resentful of her brother and the attention he gains. This is the root of the fights between her and her brother.
This film was strong because it was delightfully entertaining and had very interesting characters. The film was constantly in motion and as a result so were the three main characters. As a point of contrast, Hughes sprinkled in how the other half lived on Bueller’s day off. Jeanie and Mr. Rooney in particular were used as a fold of the main plot. If I were to assign a particular fault to the movie it would be that it needed to provide a bit more growth for Sloane. She was a great character with so much untapped potential. Delving into her character a tad more would have made the movie more enjoyable.
Let me tell you, this movie is hilarious. Well, if you enjoy puns, laughing at subtle signs in the background, and awkward situations this is the movie for you (it definitely was for me). I absolutely love watching this movie with friends. The characters are so relatable to any friend-group it’s so much fun to nudge each other when something that happens in the movie is similar to something that happened to you and your friends.
This movie has a truckload of Hughes’ trademarks which is what made it so quirky and fun. The film was set in Illinois and was centered around the lives of a few teenagers and how they grow and see the world. He gave little shout outs to art through Bueller’s room which was filled with posters and banners of some of the best bands of the era on his wall. There was also the more obvious trip to the art museum and the use of popular music. The scene surrounding the use of the song “Twist and Shout” by the Beatles lively and made you want to sing along and dance. There was also his attention to the facial expressions of the actors, including close up shots of their eyes and comedic music in the background. This movie has become so iconic it is referred by many other movies like Deadpool and Easy A.
So, as you may gather, I really really enjoy watching this movie. It’s lively, quirky, and one of the very few movies that manages to use the 4th wall to it’s advantage. The characters are interesting, the music makes you nod along, and flail if you sit on an unbalanced rolling chair when try to dance along…not from experience or anything… nope, definitely not me. Anyways, this movie deserves 8/10 strawberries. (As a side note the “I Dream of Jeannie” pun with the theme music was very cute)
…ok, it’s been a slice…??? Do you…do you have somewhere to be?