Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (Cult Classic / 1986)

Posted: February 7, 2013 in Joe Giambrone
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Oh yeah.

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Few films are so beloved as John Hughes’ quirky 80’s tale of high school truancy and the cry for freedom.  A distant relative of mine recently named her baby “Ferris.”  What is it that clicked into place on this film, and why does it still hold up, while so many teen comedies fizzle upon further reflection?

The legend is that John Hughes wrote the script in 6 days, confronted by a fast approaching writer’s strike.  Hughes is the 80’s teen comedy guy, with such films as The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink and Weird Science to his credit.  Hughes also directed and cast the film with just the right actors at just the right moment.

Ferris (Matthew Broderick) talks to the camera, repeatedly breaking the 4th wall, a high-risk move that fails more often than it works.  Luckily, Broderick had recently been in three different roles that also did this, and he was now so comfortable acting to the camera and so confident that he could pull it off, it just naturally emerged to give the comedy an elevated sense of philosophical musing.

Ferris’ best friend Cameron is the real central character, the project, the one with an arc and a life change to make.  Ferris acts as a hyper-real, charismatic catalyst to bring his friends, and the audience, on a greatest day of their lives kind of joyride.  And joyride they do – in Cameron’s father’s $350,000 classic Ferrari.

The point of the story is to break free and live more, to seize the day.  In that regard, it floats above the usual teen love/angst film, where shy nerds usually search for sex.  That’s not the goal here.  It works on a different plane.  It’s an unconventional storyline, and you can’t easily predict where the caravan will head next.

In the Behind the Scenes the atmosphere on the set is so spontaneous, so elastic and ripe for improvisation, credit really goes to Hughes for being such a collaborator.  Actors ad lib and mold the scenes, and they have great fun doing it.  The way a comedy should unfold.

The conflicts are strong and so memorable.  The school’s principal is on a wild-eyed Jihad to bring Ferris down, at any cost.  So is his jealous sister, Jeannie, who despises how Ferris gets away with everything, but she can’t get away with anything.

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I’ve never met anyone who disliked Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and perhaps its timeless story of industrialized education suffocating the youth, and their natural inclination to rebel and break free will live on forever in the classics section.

Ferris on Netflix.

Save Ferris.

And if you can handle it, one of the best mashups between two completely irrelevant movies, ever:

Ferris Club

 

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