Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Essentials- "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" (1986)

The Essentials- #59

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

I think ditching school has been a fantasy for every school child of every grade all around the world. I understand the importance of school, which is why I have studied to be a high school teacher, but while attending school as a student, I got sick of it. There were days where I wanted to stay home, not get up early, stay relaxed for a full day. I think every person has felt that way at one point in their schooling career, no matter how great a student they were. I never ditched a day of school in grade school or high school, but I certainly daydreamed about it. When I saw “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” for the first time, I was in 6th grade, and those daydreams were heightened after my first viewing. I used to plan big, extensive ways to ditch school and somehow have an epic day off of school, even though I didn’t have a driver’s license or any means of successful travel, but it was a fun way to stop myself from being bored. Not only did “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” give me several fantasies over the upcoming years, it helped introduce the joy of 1980’s filmmaking, it showed that Matthew Broderick was capable of incredible things onscreen and it quickly became of my favorite films of all time.

I love that the movie throws us into the fun of the premise right away. Its early on a school day and Ferris Bueller’s (Broderick) hands are cold and clammy. His sister Jeanie (Jennifer Grey), is not convinced of his illness and tries to persuade her parents otherwise, but to no avail. Ferris stays home, and as his family leaves for the day, he gets up and looks at the camera. “They bought it” he says. I love that Bueller works as a narrator through the entire film, giving the film a style that is engrossing. As I said above, I think Broderick does solid work as Bueller, and is easily the prize of Broderick’s career. I think he has a certain charismatic charm that I think only Broderick can pull off when he’s at his best. The journey he takes us on is spectacular to see unfold and it’s the power of Broderick that makes the journey worthwhile.

After Bueller is done getting ready for the day he calls his friend Cameron Frye (Alan Ruck) over and they hatch a plan to get Bueller’s girlfriend Sloane Peterson (Mia Sara). Once the group is together, Bueller and his friends hit the town, Chi-Town that is, and have a great day. While also avoiding Bueller’s parents and Edward Rooney (Jeffrey Jones), the dean of students at Bueller’s high school is up to Bueller’s nonsense and plans to catch him in his tracks. The work by Ruck and Sara is equally awesome compared to Broderick. The trio displays great chemistry as actors and they really feel like a group of tightly-knit friends. They never come off as actor acting in a movie. I particularly like Frye, because I feel I am the most like him. Even if I ever did get away from ditching school when I was younger, I’d spend the whole day nervous about getting caught, and that is Frye in a nutshell. I think Jeffrey Jones plays a great, grimy, meatball of an educator. I think he’s got real talent being kind of an anti-foil to Bueller in the movie and he absolutely nails all of the big laughs in the movie.

I love the way director John Hughes uses Chicago in the movie. He told interviewers prior to the film being released that he wanted to really capture the city’s spirit. Not just the architecture or setting, but the spirit of the city itself. To that Mr. Hughes I say mission accomplished. The city of Chicago almost feels like a character unto itself and how the city is used enriches the big story and emotional beats of the film. I love how Hughes shot Chicago and the great photography by the wonderful Tak Fujimoto really captures the essences of the city. Very well done.

This is John Hughes crowning achievement and it is also Matthew Broderick’s crowning achievement. For those two reasons alone, you should check this one out.

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