Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)

2009-04-09 13:43
 
Ferris

Many essays have been written deconstructing the 1986 teen comedy Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Film students have studied the original camera and storytelling techniques while psychologists have debated the effects suburban life in an affluent neighbourhood has on teenagers, while Chicagoians have applauded director John Hughes' love letter to The Windy City.

A teen hit in the 1980s, FBDO has been elevated to cult classic status not only because it offers audiences a glimpse into a teenage culture where adults are idiots and anything is possible if you just apply your mind to it. It's celebrated because it's a movie about bored but intelligent teenagers, for bored but intelligent teenagers – adults just happen to be the butt of every joke.

Directed by the king of 1980s teen comedy, John Hughes (Sixteen Candles [1984], The Breakfast Club [1985], Pretty in Pink [1986]), FBDO follows (you guessed it) Ferris Bueller, a smart-talking high school senior played by Matthew Broderick who feels suburbia chocking the life out of him. He decides to skip school for the day and gets his best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck) and his girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara) off the hook too, to spend the day in the City of Chicago.

Hughes introduces a new breed of teenager – a laid-back wiseass who lives in an affluent suburb with his middle class parents and hasn't really had to work too hard to get everything he asks for. Because opportunities are practically handed to him on a silver platter, he takes them for granted and often uses these "gifts" to manipulate the adults around him while remaining the apple of their eyes (much to the annoyance of his sister Jeanie – Jennifer Grey).

This manipulation is demonstrated early in FBDO when Ferris manages to trick his parents into believing he is sick and letting him stay at home for the day. He uses his new computer (which he didn't want because he asked his parents for a car) to hack into the school system and change the number of days he's been absent from school in front of Dean Jeffrey Jones' (Edward Rooney) very eyes.

Even though Ferris is in reality a self-serving, arrogant brat, teen audiences can't hate him because they see a little of themselves in him. He seizes opportunities (and the day) by daring to do things most teens at the time could only dream of doing. Breaking the fourth wall, Ferris delivers acerbic commentary, insightful advice and quite funny observations on the big, bad, grown-up world teenagers have to survive in.

Adults called him a rebel, teens called him their hero.

Throughout the 1980s, Hughes' movies trumpeted the cause of the teenager. They weren't filmed as kids who were to be seen and not heard. They were smart individuals who often showed up their parental units and adult contemporaries as obtuse morons who just didn't "get" them. But no one reveals their incompetence more than Ferris Bueller, whether he's feigning illness, posing as Chicago's sausage king at a posh French restaurant or even sneaking onto a float to sing "Twist and Shout".

But FBDO isn't only about seeing how much fun three teenagers can have making idiots out of adults. A serious commentary is made about the value parents place on material possessions over their children. Upper class suburbia might make life more comfortable, but it's not better than any other neighbourhood, because no matter how rich you are, your under-loved kid will find a way to trash your Ferrari.



A high school teen and his two best friends bunk school to enjoy a crazy day cruising around Chicago. Here’s why Ferris Bueller's Day Off is still a classic, and still fun.

Andre 2009/04/12 9:16 AM
Classic moviemaking on each level (if you want it to be). From the study of American suburbia and how this influenced our own way of life to.... Oh what the hell, its just unbelievably fun to watch! Ok, need to go and talk to my audience in the mirror...
Leonie 2009/05/28 12:50 AM
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There are three movies every teenager must see: Trainspotting; Romeo & Juliet and FBDO.
Hannelie 2009/08/16 11:22 AM
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I'm an 80's teenager and love this timeless movie. Got it on DVD and every time I watch it I have a good laugh with my kids.
Rocco 2009/08/16 2:23 PM
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Can you imagine the kicks of a South African version of FBDO? MP's son Sipho bails his (do good, uptight) buddy (Koos) and Sipho's girlfriend (Cat) from an affluent Cape Town, Northern Suburb (read predominently Afrikaans) school and cruise the city's Table Mountain and Camps Bay urban landscape in Koos's Pa's Harley Davidson & Sidecar, posing as the World Renowned BUPpy Winemaker of Nederburg at the Cape Grace or Mount Nelson... I can just imagine Koos's Pa's expression when he discovers the trashed harley...
Karl 2009/08/16 5:20 PM
Great film, and is up there with another great 80's Classic: Back to the Future!
Krabbz 2009/11/26 5:04 PM
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It seems to always take me back every time i watch it. One of these days im gonna col in sick and ditch work pick up my gal nd my mate nd pull a Bueller
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