John Hughes wrote and directed “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” in 1986. The film stars Matthew Broderick who is best known for this role, having a rather non-descript career after the monumental success of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”. The film also stars Jennifer Grey who went on to star in “Dirty Dancing” before fading into obscurity. The film concerns Ferris Bueller, a high school senior, who decides to fake an illness to skip school. Ferris convinces his best friend, Cameron, and his girlfriend, Sloane, to join him and they travel into Chicago together. Whilst Ferris is enjoying his day of freedom the high school population has heard about his “illness” and have started campaigning to “Save Ferris!” Hilarity ensues as Ferris’ jealous sister Jeanie (Jennifer Grey) and the high school principal Ed Rooney conspire to catch Ferris in the act of truancy.
“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” was one of those rare films that seemed to be filled with joy and humanity. It captured the universal cravings for freedom and rebellion that teenagers feel on a daily basis. The infamous Ferris Bueller was the poster-boy for teenage rebellion but in a very relatable and charming way. In the John Hughes’ film “The Breakfast Club” the insubordinate character of Bender was the antithesis of Ferris Bueller as he rebelled in a negative and confrontational way while Ferris Bueller rebelled with a playful demeanour and cheeky smile. This eccentric personality made Ferris Bueller one of the most memorable and original characters of John Hughes’ films.
This movie was the ultimate teen power film. In a move away from traditional high school movies of the time the power was taken from the authority figures and given to the students. This was symbolised by Ferris Bueller’s continual thwarting and manipulation of any authority figure within a five mile radius. The character of Ferris Bueller became this mythic figure, inspiring high school teens to charity, commandeering parades and most importantly getting away with everything. This unusual representation of a high school student who not only found his way around the system but constantly mocked it was a refreshing change from the usual teen fare of angst, depression and misunderstanding parents. One technique that Hughes used in this film was ‘breaking the fourth wall’. This involves a character speaking directly to the camera and thus ‘breaking the wall’ between the film and the audience. This was particularly effective in this film as it made Ferris Bueller seem like a friend who was talking to you exclusively. This made him seem more human and not just this eccentric rebel. This technique also helped to narrate the story and explain Bueller’s actions throughout the film.
The character of Ed Rooney, who is the principal of Ferris’ high school, is also a humorous addition to the film. Unlike generic authority figures in most high school movies, Ed Rooney’s personality is actually quite well-developed and significant within the film. Ed Rooney would be the primary antagonist of the film as his continual attempts at authority and control over Ferris are the main driving points of the film.
“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” is not only a hilarious movie but one that can speak to the kid in all of us. It’s essence of joy and playfulness make this film timeless as even teenagers today can relate to Ferris and his yearnings for autonomy and entertainment. I’m going to give this film 4 out of 5 because “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” is truly a great film with a wonderful script and amusing actors.
What did you think of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”? Did you think it deserved the critical and commercial success it received?