Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986) (PG-13)
John Hughes is the king of the teen movie. No one else can ever compare to the influence he had on children in the 80s. Though "The Breakfast Club" seems like the most readily available movie to cite with Hughes' name, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" also has generated its fair share of pop culture phenomena.
The movie launched Matthew Broderick into stardom as well as making its titular character something resonate in American society. Even if you didn't know the movie itself, you knew the name Ferris Bueller and that in of itself speaks volumes for Hughes.
The movie begins as the title states, Ferris Bueller has decided to take one day's reprieve from school. This is his ninth sick day of the semester and the principal Ed Rooney (Jeffrey Jones) is beginning to get a little heated at Ferris. The boy can't be such an important role model to freshmen and still expect to walk over the school's principles (see what I did there?) so easily.
So on this day, as Ferris is calling his friend Cameron (Alan Ruck) and they're collectively getting Ferris' girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara) out of school for the day, Rooney is determined to prove that Ferris isn't sick and that he will rue the day he ever tried to cross the most powerful man in highschool.
A lot of the humor in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" comes from the wacky, almost non-sensical approach that Hughes has while addressing Rooney.
Hughes is the teenager's best friend, and some part of it feels like he himself never aged past highschool. His films are always so loving and so genuine when dealing with this age bracket. "Ferris Bueller" is no exception to this.
Though the film has influences that stretch from Scorsese to Tarantino, Hughes is very much in the emotional element of it all, not caring to woo the very nature of film itself. His characters are his heart, this is what he wants to show us.
The plot of "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" is very slight. It gives us three teens skipping out and their various adventures. No where is there some great crisis, the most enjoyable moments come when the group has to evade the ever present, always condescending adults.
The grown-ups in Hughes' movies are always the villains, always over simplified, and always flatter than the teens. Here we see them be naively innocent and insanely hell-bent on "justice".
There are moments when "Ferris Bueller" could come across as a slapstick attempt for a blockbuster, but I don't think that's quite it. Even if it was, there would be more depth to it.
Cameron is just an enigma of a character and unfortunately the reason that the movie doesn't succeed completely. His story is left open-ended with questions hovering all around; but I think that it's also justifiable to do this to him because of what he has to go through in the movie.
The angst is real here; but so are the laughs.
Hughes' quirky style has Ferris breaking the fourth wall at every opportunity, letting text appear on screen in a coy fashion, and stereotyping highschool once again. Most of the time, the movie is a sheer joy; yet its calmer moments are somewhat uncomfortable and altogether necessary.
"Ferris Bueller's Day Off" rivals and perhaps surpasses "The Breakfast Club" as Hughes' ultimate love letter to adolescence.
It is right to marvel at this movie because after almost thirty years, it remains as relatable as when it was first released.
Posted by Micah Jones