30 Years Of Ferris Bueller: Revisiting John Hughes’ 1980s Classic

It’s been thirty years since a slick over-confident high schooler named Ferris Bueller decided to take a day off. Neal Damiano revisits the timeless teenage classic.

Ferris Bueller, Top 10 Films,

“The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, wasteoids, dweebies, dickheads, they all adore him. They think he’s a righteous dude”.

Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) is a legend in his high school thanks to his extraordinary skill at ditching classes and getting away with it. Planning to make one last ditch before graduation, Ferris calls in sick, “borrows” a Ferrari and along with his girlfriend and best friend, embark on a one day adventure through the streets of Chicago. Starting an all-out war with authority, he plays a cat and mouse chase with the school principal Mr Rooney.

John Hughes once again relies on satire to make it a point of kids vs parents. Almost like a cartoon, the young have the upper hand over the clueless adults. But somewhere in between the ridiculous over-exaggerated situations that arise, Hughes makes it work. Filled with witty one-liners and plenty of laugh out loud moments it helps that it’s also a good film.

What sets the film apart from a typical John Hughes movie is that it’s different. In most of Hughes films the focus is on the underdog rising above the typical high school problems. Here, Ferris is the popular kid who relates to the sympathetic confidence-lacking kid and that is a rarity in teen films.

spontaneous-dance-scenes-film_ferris-bueller-day-off

Top 10 Films Of John Hughes

What contributes to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’s popularity, and perhaps offers an element of discomfort, is that he never faces any real consequences. Hughes manages to justify Ferris’s snarky and unapologetic behaviour with his undeniable charm. But the character was a refreshing change from the genre’s cliches, for example the sex-addicted, drug/drink-using crazy meatheads running amok. Ferris was a good guy who happened to be likable. His only crime is outsmarting adults. Going back and revisiting the 80s film made me realise one thing, secretly a part of me still wanted to be like Ferris!

Hughes made a career of creating quirky unforgettable young characters with affluent inner lives and practical concerns. But perhaps, Ferris may be the greatest character John Hughes ever created because he simply appealed to all.

Words by Neal Damiano

See more from Neal Damiano: Top 10 Must See 1980s High School Comedy Movies & Top 10 Quintessential 1980s Films

About the Author
Neal Damiano calls himself “an unhip film geek” who mixes his passion for movies with an enthusiasm for travel, music and journalism.

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  1. Dan Grant Reply

    Aaaaaahhhhh….that’s how I feel inside reading anything about the brilliance of Hughes. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is perfection. I had never seen a film break the fourth wall before when I saw Ferris at the age of 14. I knew I loved that he spoke to us the audience and I knew it was something special I was seeing. I had no idea it would be one of the quintessential teen films some 30 years later.

    Excellent write up Neal. Thanks for bringing me back.

  2. Callum Reply

    Spot on. Ferris was the bad boy you looked up to as a teenager. John Hughes made him a great teenage anti-hero.

  3. Neal Damiano Reply

    Thanks to the both of you for the feedback. Appreciated greatly!
    It’s just unfortunate I’ve noticed that articles do not get much comments here. Not just mine, speaking in general on the site.
    Ferris Bueller was the man…leisure rules

  4. Dan Grant Reply

    I’ve noticed right now there seems to be a lull in comments. Not a lot of top tens are getting a lot of feedback right now either, so it’s not just you Neal.

    I’ve noticed this site has a huge interest in horror….maybe it’s time to do another horror top ten.

  5. Neal Damiano Reply

    Dan Grant, I’ve done my share of horror so! But there’s always room for more, even my Canada’s contributions to slasher films article didn’t get much play.
    I’m kind of hitting the 30th Anniversary articles right now I like to write tribute pieces lately. Thanks for the feedback my friend.

  6. Kyle Reply

    Never liked Ferris as much as some of Hughes’ other teenage movies – Pretty In Pink and Some Kind of Wonderful are probably his best work and I believe he only wrote the screenplays for them.

  7. CineGirl Reply

    He’s an idol for boys, I’ve no doubt. For girls he’s like a really annoying older brother! 🙂

  8. Neal Damiano Reply

    Wow, most people I talk with the films revered. But it’s certainly not my favorite Hughes film either. Thanks for reading!!

  9. Rory Fish Reply

    Great celebration of an 80s classic, Neal! John Hughes films always have a handful of scenes that live long in the memory or become infinitely quotable. Ferris has lots of both.

    • Neal Damiano Reply

      @Rory, Ferris sure does , mega quotes!!, I’d say it’s probably the most quotable Hughes film besides The Breakfast Club.

  10. Clarissa Reply

    King Ferris! Great movie.

  11. Dan Grant Reply

    I asked for a car I got a computer
    Le jou son fait….translation, the game is up…you’re ass is mine!
    Incredible one of my worst performances and they never doubted it for a second.
    You lick your palms. It’s a little childish and stupid but then again so is highschool
    How can one possibly be expected to go to school on a day like today?

    Ferris is full of great quotes.

  12. hanky Reply

    Love it. Ferris rules

  13. Luce Reply

    It’s a great film. I wanna watch it again.

  14. Judith Collins Reply

    One of my teenage faves. I remember seeing this for the first time when I was 14 and wishing I could be Ferris, not his girlfriend!

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