Thursday, December 1, 2011


(June 1986, U.S.)

Over the last twenty-five years, I've discovered, little by little, very small reasons to NOT enjoy FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF as much as I did when I was a younger man in the late 1980s. For one thing, having to spend all that time staring at the shit-eating grin on Matthew Broderick's face can get a bit irritating. Second, that infamous city parade sequence where Ferris is lip-sincing the Beatles singing "Shake It Up" while the entire city takes part in a choreographed dance number may have seemed pretty awesome back in 1986, but now I find it rather stupid. Fear not, though, my fellow lovers of Ferris Bueller. There's still plently we can talk about that I still love to watch.

Even back in its day, I knew that FERRIS BUELLER would not have been nearly as funny had Ferris not been talking to the camera and to us. Like something right out of ANNIE HALL (1977), we're taking part in our hero's adventures and misfortunes and laughing right along with it. And if you happened to be of the high school or college age when it was released, then you were apt to further appreciate the antics of a young man who's sole termination is too just take it easy on a very beautiful day that just happens to be a school day. But more than Ferris, for me it's always been his quirky best friend Cameron Frye (played by Alan Ruck) and his very resentful and bitchy sister Jeanie (played by pre-nose job Jennifer Grey) that have always carried the film for me. Oh, and of course there's the fact that I had a serious crush on Mia Sara when I saw her in this film. Very babe-a-licious!

Like previous John Hughes' films, FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF is very reminiscent of the 1980's pop culture and very focussed on what makes the city and suburbs of Chicago very personal to the director. You actually believe that the downtown area is a fun place to roam and certainly the residnet backyards are some of the most inviting I've ever seen. Yes, Hughes clearly loves Chicago the way Woody Allen has always loved New York City. The man also clearly has a good idea of how completely lame some high school teachers can be in their approach to relating to their students. If I'd had a teacher that was anything even close to that of Ben Stein (economics) or Del Close (English), I think I would have shot us both! As Ferris himself put it, high school can only be described as "childish and stupid". Amen to that, Ferris!

One last piece of trivia I'll add to all this - I was watching this film about a year ago and permitted my five year-old son to stay in the living room while it was on. I can't claim that he understood everything that was happening in the movie, but he was cracking up. Since then, he affectionately refers to FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF as the movie where "the boy doesn't go to school". Congratulations, Sam, you nailed it perfectly! I love you!

Favorite line or dialogue:

Ferris Bueller (to the camera with key points on screen): "The key to faking out the parents is the clammy hands. It's a good non-specific symptom; I'm a big believer in it. A lot of people will tell you that a good phony fever is a dead lock, but, you get a nervous mother, you could wind up in a doctor's office. That's worse than school. You fake a stomach cramp, and when you're bent over, moaning and wailing, you lick your palms. It's a little childish and stupid, but then, so is high school."


  1. Some of it just doesn't hold up, but the best parts are still relevant. A little too much angst with Cameron without much resolution. I have always been the kind of fanatical film goer who sits through the credits, I think that started with Star Wars because I wanted to know who was responsible for all of the amazing work I'd just seen, anyway this is one of those films with a stinger at the end for people like me. The snarky delivery and context were good embodiments of the spirit of Ferris. Favorite line: "You're still here? It's over. Go home. Go."

  2. With a style of dialogue like that, you'd think that Marshall Brickman (ANNIE HALL and other Woody Allen films) had written the script.