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By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Directed by John Hughes
Paramount 01/86 DVD/VHS Feature Film
Ferris Bueller is a charming, free-spirited, and imaginative high school senior. He's very popular and has a foxy girlfriend, a true-blue buddy, and doting parents. He also has a sulky sister who is very jealous of him and well she should be: Ferris is a talented kid who gets what he wants.
One sunny spring day, Ferris (Matthew Broderick) decides to play hooky from school. He convinces his parents (Cindy Pickett and Lyman Ward) that he is ill and then talks Cameron (Alan Ruck), his best friend, into "borrowing" his dad's Ferrari. They spring Ferris's girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara) from school using the ruse that her grandmother has died.
The dean of students, Ed Rooney (Jeffrey Jones in a hysterically funny slapstick performance), is convinced that Bueller is deceiving him, and so he sets out to expose Ferris's truancy. Trouble is, our hero has several contingency plans in place at home to deal with Rooney. What he hasn't foreseen are the angry feelings of his sister Jeanie (Jennifer Grey), who wants to see him fail at something anything.
While these two wonder about Ferris's whereabouts, he and his co-conspirators drive to Chicago where they visit the Sears Tower, Wrigley Field, the Art Institute, and the city's Mercantile Exchange. Ferris cons his way into a chic restaurant and caps the day's events by taking over Chicago's annual German-American parade and leading the participants in a lively version of "Twist and Shout."
Writer-director John Hughes (Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink) has come up with another snappy and thought-provoking film about adolescence. Nobody does it better. With Ferris Bueller's Day Off, he has brought to the screen an approximation of every teenager's fantasy of omnipotence in a world where adults and authority figures can be manipulated. While his soporific schoolmates nod off in their classes, he, Sloane, and Cameron expand their horizons and test their improvisational skills out on the streets of the city. Ferris plays trickster, Sloane wonders about love, and Cameron wrestles with negative feelings about his father.
In his captivating performance as Ferris, actor Matthew Broderick occasionally turns to the camera to speak to the audience. At one point, he observes: "I've said it once. I'll say it again: life moves pretty fast; if you can't stop and look around, you could miss it." Ferris Bueller was the Huck Finn of the 1980s.
To be a teenager is to be vulnerable, raw, and anxious as well as confused about family, school, friends, and what tomorrow will bring. Ferris Bueller's Day Off is a fantasy that allows us to experience the mastery, the glory, the fun, and the power of being in control of our destiny for at least one carefree day of total freedom.
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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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