Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)

Ferris Bueller is not an intrinsically sympathetic character.  He's really got no hardship in his life to overcome: he's smart, handsome, popular, and has a gorgeous girlfriend and loving, wealthy parents.  It makes his early whining about not having a car of his own rather hard to take.

At heart though, Ferris is not a bad person.  He genuinely cares for his girlfriend Sloane and his best friend Cameron, and while he's pretty self-entitled about a lot of stuff, he does step up for others when it's needed.  That ability to be selfless - however little we get to see of it in the film - is what sets him apart from his antagonist in that film.

That antagonist is Ed Rooney, Dean of Students at Ferris's school.  Young master Bueller, you see, is respected by his peers - they look up to him in a way they don't look up to Rooney, and the older man is determined to catch Ferris in one of his many escapades and tear down what he sees as an usurpation of his authority.

And boy, does Ferris get up to escapades.  The film revolves around him faking an illness so as to have the day off - the ninth time he has done so for the semester.  His plan is to get Cameron and Sloane and indulge in a day of hijinks in downtown Chicago.  This is a plan that Rooney is determined to stop, as is Ferris's sister Jeanie.  She's also more than a little fed up of how everyone buys into whatever cock-and-bull story Ferris feeds them.

This is a frequently funny teen comedy with a charismatic cast (quite what happened to Matthew Broderick's career I'm not sure: he went from a series of commercial hits to a series of critically acclaimed roles, and then ... well, probably Godzilla had something to do with him never quite achieving true stardom).  About the only reason to dislike it is if you dislike Ferris.  As I said, he is a rather self-entitled individual, and his smugness early on can be a bit off-putting.  I'm sure some people watching the film will want to see him get his comeuppance.

This is probably also not a film that is best seen as an adult (or at least, not as an adult who has forgotten what it was like to be a teen).  All grown ups depicted in the film are basically ineffectual, and many of them are as full of themselves as Ferris is.

The film was deservedly successful on release, and I enjoyed re-watching it tonight.  Worth your time if you are in the mood for some light comedy.

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