My journey through some classic John Hughes continues with this 1986 classic that, like so many of his films, came along at just the right time for me. Matthew Broderick is the titular Ferris Bueller, and despite already hitting his quota of sick days for the year, he’s taking a day off to show his friends, Cameron (Alan Ruck) and Sloane (Mia Sara) one last big day before graduation.
Of course, this puts him at odds with his parents (Lyman Ward and Cindy Pickett), his sister, Jeanie (Jennifer Grey) and the school’s principal, Ed Rooney (Jeffrey Jones) who has it in for the fourth-wall breaking character.
I’ve come across articles lately that have painted Ferris as a bit of a tool and a dick for doing all of these things for and to his friends, but Broderick’s charm in the role pushes all that aside. You want to hang out with Ferris, you’re rooting for him, because haven’t we all wanted to cut loose, even just for one day, and stick it to the principal, the boss, and the world in general with a sense of joy, love, humor, and being the best person you can be?
I saw this movie on my 16th birthday, we’d had some friends over, and I laughed harder than I had at any movie for a long time watching that one. Even my parents enjoyed it. Hughes just had a way of writing his characters in a way that makes relate to them, or allows you to see part of yourself in them.
Hughes talent for writing is augmented by his nods to pop culture, style, and understanding the teenaged mind in a way most writers lost touch with during that time period. There’s not a low beat in the entire film, there’s a reason for every moment, scene and dialogue, and god I love the fourth wall breaks that are such a signature of Hughes’ films.
Not everything is perfect in Ferris’ world, Cameron’s home life is a prime example, but with your friends at your side, the sun in the sky, some great quips, and some great tunes, you too can take on the world and at day’s end come away smelling of roses.
Sure a lot of the adults are written to be a little snide, and more jaded than our main characters, and perhaps that’s a commentary on the transition to adulthood, we lose part of ourselves, that Ferris part, if we don’t hold onto it, and if you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.
This is one of those movies that I can just put on in the background, quote in time with the film, and just enjoy, even if I’m doing other things. It, like so many things of the 80s, is a part of my DNA, and I will continue to treasure it, and remember to take a day off every now and again.
And if you see me dancing on a float when I should be at work, don’t tell my boss…