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 (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.
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.