Sometimes I watch this and think, “Ferris Bueller is kind of a dick.” He seems like the type of slacker who skates by on his good looks and charisma, makes the right friends in college, and lucks into an amazing business opportunity where he’s able to retire at the age of 40. He seems like a lucky bastard; the kind you hate, but only because you’ll never be as lucky or successful as him.
Then other times I see him as a hero of sorts. Ferris seems to be the only person in the universe that really gets what it is to be young and carefree. He understands that all too soon life will force him and his friends to grow up and be responsible– but today is not that day.
I know most people only see Ferris as a lovable rogue, but sometimes I identify more with his friend Cameron. It seems like Ferris and Cameron have been friends for a long time, so Ferris more than anyone should know what Cameron is like. It bothers me that he seems so determined to change his best friend, when this may not be something Cameron wants or is ready to do. In the end Ferris does provide Cameron with more self-worth than he gets at home, but at the cost of majorly pissing off his father. There’s just something fundamentally unfair about Cameron facing severe punishment, meanwhile everything is going perfectly for Bueller.
But those times when I’m completely on Ferris’ side, I become lost in his world of leisure and fun. (Matthew Broderick is just too darn charming.) There’s something enjoyable about teenagers skipping school to eat at a fancy French restaurant and visit the Art Institute of Chicago. We’ve all fantasized about getting the better of someone else or becoming the star of a parade. Sometimes Ferris just gets it right– life does move pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
The success of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off can pretty much be attributed to one thing: the charisma of lead Matthew Broderick. His personality and exuberance carries this film, elevating it from generic teen comedy to something great. It is one of the rare films I can remember where the lead character actually talks to his audience. This aspect made it an original take on teen movies, combined with Broderick’s performance turned it into something really special.
Broderick plays Ferris, a high school senior who doesn’t feel he should be expected to attend school on such an amazing day. He fakes an illness to his parents, drags his hypochondriac best friend, Cameron (Alan Ruck), out of bed and hits the town. Along the way, Ferris and Cameron also arrange for his girlfriend (Mia Sara) to be excused from school so she can come along for the ride too. School principal Rooney (Jeffrey Jones) is well aware of Ferris’s antics and is determined to catch him in the act this time. Bueller has the day of a lifetime, going to fancy restaurants, museums, a baseball game and even manages to get a spot on a float during a parade. As long as he is back before his parents return from work, everybody will be none the wiser.
As I said before, Broderick owns this film. He is able to make you forget that he should actually be in school and is breaking the rules, but you don’t care because Ferris is such an appealing character. There is a Cracked article I’ve read that details movies where the villain is actually the good guy. School principal Rooney is featured in this article. He is just doing his job try to stop slackers from cutting class. It is a shame Broderick was not able to capitalise on this performance and have a bigger career, he is now better known as Sarah Jessica Parker’s other half, when he should have been able to use this movie to be a star in his own right.
I’ve always wondered why there is no sequel to this film. Hollywood loves sequels and Ferris Bueller is definitely one that could be made quite easily. I’d actually like to see what Ferris and Cameron are up too now while they chuck a sicky from their boring office jobs.
I guess I will just have to live with this 80s classic and enjoy it one more time.
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