Saturday 21 January 2012

Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986) - John Hughes

What would you do with a day off from High School?

For many, Ferris Bueller epitomises the 80s.  It's a film for the MTV generation, a cult teen film to file alongside The Breakfast Club or Rushmore.  As you'd expect, the protagonist is the titular Ferris Bueller, a charismatic and precocious High School student played by a young Matthew Broderick in one of his defining roles.  By cleverly persuading his parents he is sick, he takes a day off school and, along with his friends Cameron and Sloane, explores the city in increasingly outlandish scenarios.  But who will find him out?  His parents?  His school principal?  Or his sister (played by Jennifer Grey of Dirty Dancing fame)?

The periphery characters are a collection of hilarious oddballs.  The principal (Jeffrey Jones) is a cartoon, subjected to slapstick situations in his pursuit of Ferris, whilst his secretary is wonderfully stupid.  There's even a cameo from a young Charlie Sheen as a drug addict in a police station - more hilarious now in retrospect.  Much of the humour is childish, but the whole point of the film is the reversal of social hierarchy as the teenagers outsmart the adults at every turn.  In that respect, it's almost like a teen Home Alone. 

Trouble arises with Ferris himself.  For all his charisma and asides to the viewer, he is a bit of a smart-ass prick who's careless attitude gets his friends into as much trouble as himself.  Much of the film's narrative is frustrating as the viewer awaits his comeuppance, prolonged through a series of lucky escapes.  However, the ending does provide a satisfying conclusion and the credits sequence is hilarious. 

The whole style of the film is typically 80s, the soundtrack especially providing both context and comical juxtapositions.  As such, Ferris Bueller is a classic cult film that all teens and young adults should watch.