Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
I don’t think there’s ever been a better or more successful comedy writer-director than the late John Hughes. His filmography is incredible, ranging from coming-of-age stories like The Breakfast Club to National Lampoon’s Vacation and its sequels, to more adult stuff like Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, and monster hits like Home Alone. And that’s just scratching the surface. This is one of his best. Matthew Broderick was actually twenty-four, but he could easily play eighteen. He had had a few hit movies, but I think this one made him a star.
Ferris is one of the great movie characters, in my book. He is the sort of guy I really should hate, but it’s impossible not to love him. I mean, this guy has everything you need to get along in life, I should be insanely jealous, but he’s not an asshole about it. Everybody likes him. Loves him! Back when I was ditching school from time to time (sorry Mom, sometimes I was faking) I just chilled out around the house. When he ditches school, he and his best friend and girlfriend do that toddlin’ town of Chicago like nobody has ever done it.
Ferris is absolutely shameless about playing the poor little sick boy. Sickening, actually, totally pulling the wool over the eyes of his clueless parents, though not his resentful sister. But it is so hilarious I forgive him anything. The scene of him commandeering a parade float and getting ten thousand people (no kidding, there really were that many people) to sing along with him on “Twist and Shout” has to be seen to be disbelieved. And of course you’re not meant to believe it, simply to enjoy it. Wouldn’t it be nice if the real world was like this?
During his escapades he is pursued by the relentless Dean Rooney, played wonderfully by Jeffrey Jones. He intends to make an example of this guy, and will go to any lengths to do that. But he is totally outclassed, and by the end he is tattered and bruised. It is hilarious. When you watch it, be sure to stick around to the very end of the credits when Ferris, who has broken the fourth wall from the very first, looks at us and tells us it’s over. Go home!
BTW, at the end a classic 1960 Ferrari is destroyed … only it really isn’t, any more than my friend Richard Rush dropped a Duesenberg into the river in The Stunt Man. That car was worth $350,000 at the time, well over a million today. Only 100 of them were made. All the “Ferraris” in this film were fiberglass shells over old Mustang bodies. According to the “Making Of” documentary on the DVD, they didn’t run worth a damn, either.