Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) Guest Review

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This review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from The Dirk Malcolm Alternative. Thanks for joining in on this blogathon! Let’s hear his thoughts on Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. 🙂

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FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF (Hughes, US, 1986)

“The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, waistoids, dweebies, dickheads – they all adore him. They think he’s a righteous dude.”
– Grace, the school secretary

I am presently trying to compose a list of the 100 best films that have been produced since STAR WARS (1977). John Hughes is a post-New Hope auteur who created a new strain of Teen Movie for the multiplex generation. Why do I think FERRIS BUELLER… deserves a place on the list above his other films? THE BREAKFAST CLUB is more important as it launched the careers of many of the so-called brat pack. HOME ALONE, that he wrote, was more commercially successful. PLANES TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES is funnier.

But, FERRIS… is wise.

It has a wisdom that transcends the ‘teen flick’ with all of its usual angst: the struggle to get noticed in a world that doesn’t care and the consuming need to find a partner. Its about more than that, its a manifesto for a way of life. Ferris is a righteous dude.

It is a simple story with a flimsy central motivation. Ferris is a well-heeled high-school kid who has a bedroom kitted out with state-of-the-art gear and loving parents who are working hard to meet his every desire. However, he has a significant lacking in his life, he doesn’t have a car, so he needs to ‘bum’ lifts from friends. To satisfy his desire for wheels plots a day off from school to spend it driving in a Ferrari belonging to his friend’s dad. I know. It’s terrible isn’t it? It’s one of those ethical dilemmas that is only matched by De Sica’s Antonio Ricci stealing a bike so he can get work to feed his child. But, of course, Ferris is not really interested in European socialism:

“I’m not European. I don’t plan on being European. So who gives a crap if they’re socialists? They could be fascist anarchists, it still doesn’t change the fact that I don’t own a car.”

Being both European and a socialist, I should find Ferris annoying, with his first world problems and arrogance, but Hughes gets away with it because Matthew Broderick is so charming and charismatic. From the opening moments when he takes the audience into his confidence and he describes how to avoid school, you are willing to come along on the ride. Some of my favourite moments are those where he turns up the charm and pulls off audacious flim-flams. He manages to get his girlfriend out of school thanks to an elaborate hoax, and have dinner at an exclusive restaurant due to his quick wits and confidence trickery.

Broderick is so good that it is possible to overlook the contribution of some of the other characters to its success. Jeffery Jones is great as the Principle driven crazy by his suspicions about Bueller. Jennifer Grey has the ultimate bitchy resting face as Ferris’s sister who is horrified to see the school beguiled into a ‘Save Ferris’ campaign when rumours of his impending kidney transplant take hold. Alan Ruck as Cameron has a troubled expression that’s a great foil to Broderick’s sure-footed bravado and he looks like a piece of coal is actually up his arse, slowly turning to a diamond. He’s never certain that he should go along. He’s got a bad cold, Ferris treats him badly, and it’s HIS dad’s car:

“My father spent three years restoring this car. It is his love, it is his passion.”

“It is his fault he didn’t lock the garage.”

The tension between the free-wheeling Ferris and the up-tight Cameron is the eternal battle between the id and the ego, the libertine verses the prig, tackling the ultimate question of modernity: how is it possible to be free in a society that demands order through the regime of school, work and the sense of duty towards parents. Ferris triumphs because he is willing to step outside of the hurley burley and find pleasure:

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

There’s a timelessness to his message. It’s a middle-aged man speaking through a teenager. Every time I see the film, it makes me feel great, because its about the struggle for independence and the need to be free (at least once in a while). Ferris’ wisdom is the reason it belongs within the post-Star Wars cannon.

The film is made up of episodes that I’ve given the Dirk’s Five treatment, four good and one dud:

Bueller?… Bueller?… Bueller?

1961 Ferrari 250GT California

Has there been a better use of John Williams’ music for STAR WARS? Not even George Lucas can match the moment when the valet-parking attendant launches this ultimate, classic sports car over a bump in sheer exuberance.

The brilliant-red car is a fetish object (can you hear Yello’s ‘Oh Yeah’ without thinking about it?) throughout the movie. There were only 100 made, so you don’t need to be a car lover to cringe every time Cameron takes a blow at the bumper. Its a symbol of his relationship with his father and the source of his anxieties (the registration plate is NRVOUS). When it reverses through the plate window to crash at the bottom of a ditch, its not just its rarity that makes you bite your knuckle, its the realisation that things are never going to be the same again.

“Pucker up buttercup”

“This is George Peterson!” Cameron takes on the role of Sloane Peterson’s dad to get her out of school to join Ferris on his day off. He says that she needs to attend the funeral of her grandmother. Principle Rooney thinks it’s Ferris so lets rip:

Uh, yeah, sure, no I’d be happy to, yeah you, uh, you you just produce a corpse, and uh, I’ll release Sloane. I wanna see this dead grandmother first hand.

The timing of Jeffrey Jones’ reaction when his secretary tells him that Ferris is on line 2 is comic genius. As is his reaction when he sees Sloane apparently smooching with her ‘father’: “So THAT’s how it is in their family.”

Ferris’ Bedroom

I want one of those machines that you put a floppy disc in and it makes sick noises. He has the best graphic equaliser I’ve ever seen in a movie (not sure that its quite optimised for the acoustics of his room). It’s real pleasure to pause the image and study the posters on his wall too.

The contraption he creates is a fore-runner of Kevin’s devices in HOME ALONE, except they don’t actually look physically possible.

Art Institute of Chicago

I love the moment when they move through the museum in a link with the children, it is such innocent fun and joyous. The scene in the gallery offers a moment of calm meditation in the middle of the city. Chicago features heavily in the film with lurid, bright colours captured by cinematographer Tak Fujimoto (best known for his work on BADLANDS(1973))

The Dream Academy’s cover version of The Smiths’ Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want plays over a steady slide-show of Hopper, Kandinsky, Picasso, Giacometti, Pollock and Mattisse. Most notably Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.

Its at this point you realise that there is something to Ferris’ mantra. Stop and look once in a while. This great art could pass you by.

I yell “RAT!”

The Parade

I know that its a much loved scene, but after the time in the gallery I think this is wrong note in the film. The action transforms into the stuff of musicals with Ferris leading the crowd in a rendition of Twist and Shout. It seems oddly out of place and its the only moment that suddenly dates the film.

The parade scene in EASY RIDER (1969) has a similar effect of unbalancing things: they don’t look like they are part of what’s going on.

He should stick to singing in the shower.

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CPD Classics: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) Review

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Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) by ME, Cinema Parrot Disco! Finally writing some reviews!

Directed by John Hughes

Written by John Hughes

Starring:
Matthew Broderick
Alan Ruck
Mia Sara
Jeffrey Jones
Jennifer Grey
Lyman Ward
Cindy Pickett
Edie McClurg
Ben Stein
Charlie Sheen
Kristy Swanson

Running time: 102 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows high school senior Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick), who decides to skip school and spend the day in downtown Chicago. Accompanied by his girlfriend Sloane Peterson (Mia Sara) and his best friend Cameron Frye (Alan Ruck), he creatively avoids his school’s Dean of Students Edward Rooney (Jeffrey Jones), his resentful sister Jeanie (Jennifer Grey), and his parents.

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My Opinion:

If you’re my age, there’s a 90% chance that you love Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. (Disclaimer: I pulled that statistic out of my ass). Although, personally, this is probably my third favorite Hughes film, I do think it’s his *best* film. The character of Ferris Bueller is possibly his greatest creation (and he created LOTS of memorable characters). Who wouldn’t love to be like Ferris? So carefree & living life to the fullest. As he famously says: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it”. For a teen film, that’s actually a pretty deep & meaningful statement said in such a simple way. Everyone knows it’s the way we should ALL be living our lives yet so few of us remember to. I’ll admit right now that I’m a Cameron, not a Ferris. I don’t want to be a Cameron and everyone knows you should NOT be a Cameron. So why are there still so many of us in the world??

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So Ferris and his girlfriend and his best friend take a day off of school & spend the day doing various things around Chicago. So what? Well, what do YOU do when you decide to fake a sick day? I doubt many of us manage to do half as much as Ferris & co. Hell, I’d probably just mope around the house all day the way Cameron would choose to if Ferris would let him. Ferris lives LIFE and even the simplest things, like going to an art museum, are treated as something fantastic & beautiful. And call me sappy if you want but the museum scene with the magnificent Dream Academy version of The Smiths’ Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want is an absolute classic. It’s beautiful & it’s moving and this is from a film aimed at TEENS.

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That’s what I loved about John Hughes – he treated teenagers as human beings with feelings and deep emotions and BRAINS. Now that I’m far (far… FAR… Oh, so damn far!) from being a teenager, I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be one and, as Allison from The Breakfast Club would say, my heart has died (in some ways…). Ferris Bueller’s Day Off gave us teens that, upon first glance, just wanted a “day off of school” but, by the end of the film, we realize that these teens skipping out on a day of school want the same thing all of us want: To find joy in the little things and to simply live each day as though it’s our last (which sounds corny & obvious but I’m not a good writer like Hughes – he said it much better with the “Life moves pretty fast” line). In this movie, it’s a coming-of-age thing as the three of them think about what they’re going to do with their lives outside of high school and you can tell that even Ferris is a little scared. This theme works just as well for any generation and any big life changes we experience: marriage, birth, death… I think this is a big part of the reason why Ferris Bueller’s Day Off remains so well loved even today. The clothing styles may change but the themes are timeless.

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Summary:

Um, that was all almost deep for me! I didn’t even really discuss any specific things from the movie. The characters are very strong as are the actors and there are so many great lines, funny moments, and excellent song choices (as I’ve said before, John Hughes really knew how to choose the right songs for his films). But there’s really no point discussing the specifics anyway – most everyone has seen this film by now or at least knows some of the more famous scenes. I love that it’s John Hughes’ “love letter to Chicago” as well as I grew up not terribly far from there and have had a bit of a “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” day in Chicago (but not fully – yes, this IS something I plan to do someday). The overall theme I discussed above isn’t enough to make a movie – it’s the combination of that plus the characters Hughes created here and his writing and the music and the humor and just… EVERYTHING coming together and being so RIGHT. That’s why Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is loved by so many, including me, and why it’s a CPD Classic.

My Rating: 9/10

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Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) Guest Review

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This review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from Zoe of The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger. Thanks for being a part of this, Zoe! Let’s, um, see what she thought of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. 🙂

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heathen
ˈhiːð(ə)n/
noun
derogatory

1. a person who does not belong to a widely held religion as regarded by those who do.

More commonly referred to as “Zoë”.

When Table 9 Mutant announced a John Hughes Blogathon I was like uhm, okay. I really wanted to be involved and I am not really familiar with his work, and this seems like a good way to figure some things out. I know that all and sundry is going to do Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and I know that my selection was not really anything unexpected, but I figured that the best place to start with in terms of John Hughes’s work would be one of his most beloved and all time famous movies… a movie even I know about even though I have never watched. So here is just another one of numerous Ferris Bueller entries, but I can guarantee it will probably be one of the only (if not the only) reviews that does not jump about and sing praise for the classic film.

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“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
– Ferris Bueller

I won’t lie. I have been trying. I have been trying really hard and I have been unsuccessful. I know that the world loves this movie, I know that everyone is a huge fan, that everyone has faith and adores it and it has cult status and all that, but I am not a fan of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Maybe it is because it is too 80s? Maybe because it is freaking ridiculous? I don’t know. I really don’t. I didn’t find it to be funny or memorable or charming, and Jeanie (Jennifer Grey) truly grated on my absolute last nerve from the off. What a resentful, bitter bitch! Dean of Students Edward Rooney (Jeffrey Jones) was ludicrous, and I cannot ever imagine someone having such a hard on for one student (and I went to school with some serious chops in my life). The premise was silly, and it is called a coming of age film… how?! The most he did was bunk a day and excuse it later by saying he needs an off day in his life with his friends before they all go their separate ways… how does that even work? We call them weekends… but whatever. Not saying we don’t all need to put in that one false day every now and again for sanity’s sake, but this really just didn’t come together for me nicely.

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“It could get wrecked, stolen, scratched, breathed on wrong… a pigeon could shit on it! Who knows?”
– Cameron Frye

I was not a fan of the acting at all (though Matthew Broderick gave a fantastic performance, he played that self-assured and overly cocky teenager very well), I didn’t enjoy the events, and I have never seen someone plan a day to bunk that well in my life, and I met some people who were pretty creative. I know it isn’t supposed to be too serious and all that, but I didn’t find it light-hearted and fun, either. It was just boring, plain and simple. It didn’t reel me in even remotely. The movie itself is only like an hour and forty minutes, but it felt like a century to me. I even had to watch this movie over two sittings. That peeved me!

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“The place is like a museum. It’s very beautiful and very cold, and you’re not allowed to touch anything.”
– Ferris Bueller

I didn’t really feel that there was any real character growth. I mean sure, Cameron Frye (Alan Ruck) finally grew a pair in terms of his jackass dad, but we don’t actually see anything come to fruition from that, which was disappointing. Then there is Jeanie, who gets two words from druggie Charlie Sheen, and all of a sudden she is over hating Ferris, but gung-ho on helping him? People don’t let things go that quickly, and she has always despised her brother for getting away with everything all the time. Not to mention, how freaking retarded were the Bueller parents?! Tom (Lyman Ward) and Katie (Cindy Pickett) were preposterous and stupid and silly, and how do you blow off your daughter and believe your son in an angel? I mean I know how that happens, but it is like they didn’t even have the time of day for her, and I think that just irritated me (thinking about parents and favouritism among kids and all that). I know some parents are love blinded by their kids, but this just tells me they had the intellect of a pea!

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“In a nutshell: I hate my brother.”
– Jeanie Bueller

Alright, I am going to stop bitching now. There were some things that were pretty cool about the film I suppose. You will have to find that in everything. Cameron kicking the shit out of his dad’s Ferrari, so worth it. The massive (though completely inexplicable) town party was cool, even though it was strange how it all joined together for the film. I have always only caught scenes of it over the years, and those never really impressed me, so I figured maybe if I watch it all then I will understand the hype and cult status and lurve… nope. I really wanted to like this movie, I truly did. Instead I am going to have to go with having totally missed it here. This was not even like a teen feeling movie, but something for kids.

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“Ladies and gentlemen, you are such a wonderful crowd; we’d like to play a little tune for you. It’s one of my personal favorites and I’d like to dedicate it to a young man who doesn’t think he’s seen anything good today – Cameron Frye, this one’s for you.”
– Ferris Bueller

Alright, moment of truth… overall I will be nice about it and score it a 5.5/10. Well, T9M, I am really sorry. I know you love yourself some Hughes, but this just didn’t work for me in the slightest. Maybe my next endeavour will impress me more!

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) Guest Review

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This guest review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from Mark of Fast Film Reviews. Thanks for joining in, Mark! Let’s see what he has to say about Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. 🙂

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Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

The simple tale of how a high school senior spent one glorious spring day playing hooky after faking an illness. It doesn’t sound like a saga destined for greatness, but Ferris Bueller’s Day Off has become iconic. Perhaps it’s lead actor Matthew Broderick’s delicate balancing act. He gleefully inhabits a character that is a smug smartass, yet we are delightfully happy to see him succeed.

He urges his buddy Cameron Frye to borrow his Dad’s prized sports car then manipulates the administration into releasing his girlfriend Sloane Peterson (Mia Sara) for the day. News of Ferris’ infirmity grows. We are made aware of the public’s concern for the boy’s health at various moments during the chronicle. Apparently news of his sickness has spread far and wide in the school and throughout the city. People really like this boy. Definitely not in the Ferris Bueller fan club is Dean of Students Edward R. Rooney (Jeffrey Jones) who makes it his mission to prove the truant boy is not really sick. Ferris’ sarcastic sister Jeanie (Jennifer Grey) is also not taken in by her brother’s shenanigans. Her brother’s ability to go unpunished for his many misdeeds, provokes a hilarious mixture of outage and jealousy in her. Grey also registers considerable chemistry at the police station with a dangerous rebel played by Charlie Sheen.

John Hughes would go on to write bigger hits (Home Alone). But of everything he directed, this was his biggest box office success. It’s easy to see why. Part of what makes this comedy so winning is the utter innocence of it all. Ferris’ indulgences comprise of nothing more than trips to a fancy restaurant, the Sears Tower, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, and a Cubs game at Wrigley Field. Ferris famously crashes a parade celebrating German-American culture. His lip-synch to the Beatles’ “Twist and Shout” is a highlight. Indeed the spectacle was enough to push the hit back onto the Billboard Top 40 charts back in 1986. Music figures prominently in inspired bits elsewhere. An instrumental version of The Smiths’ “Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want” at the museum is fittingly poetic. And nothing underscores a teen’s desire to drive a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder convertible more perfectly than “Oh Yeah” by Swiss electronic band Yello. The song has become a symbol of want.

For anyone who was in high school when this came out, the production will resonate even more as pure nostalgia. Much of the teen movie is well crafted lightweight fun. But as the film’s final coda unfolds, Ferris’ altruistic motives become apparent. His objective to help his best friend achieve a deeper sense of self-worth resonates long after the movies fades.

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