Is there any way not to like — nay, love this movie? John Hughes introduces us, via quickly broken fourth wall, to the magnetic Ferris, a self-possessed high school senior played to hakuna matata perfection in his career-making role by Matthew Broderick, who knows his reign is coming to an end and wants to have one last hurrah as king of the hill before he lurches on toward whatever the Rest of His Life will be. Or it’s about a kid playing hooky with his best friend and his girlfriend and having the best day ever, uproariously avoiding trouble at every turn and experiencing the day off that most of us can only dream of. Most likely, it’s about both of those things.
There are other characters adding complexity, too — Ferris’ goody-goody sister (Jennifer Grey, getting put in the corner) living in her cool big bro’s shadow; obsessive Principal Rooney (yes, that’s where they got their name), who so desperately wants a win against this frequent truant; and, of course, sad sack Cameron, played by Alan Ruck, and arguably the truest impetus for the eponymous day off (unless the whole thing was all in his head). It is Ferris’ day off, though, so don’t get too bogged down with Cameron’s existential crises. Or do! This flick begs to be watched again, which is probably why no shortage of ink has been spilled on its behalf. Maybe for the Saturday midnight screening, though, it’s best to stick to the freewheelin’ Ferris.
As for the broader scope of things… geez, what didn’t Ferris end up influencing? First Lady Barbara Bush paraphrased a famous line at her 1990 commencement address at Wellesley College. Ruck, and arguably Broderick, hasn’t had a bigger role since. Heck, even the actors who played the Bueller parents got married in real life!
Does any of that really matter, though? There are a million more things that I, and anyone else who’s seen it, could write or say about it, from the costume design to the soundtrack to that car to the Chicago setting…but Ferris Bueller is a classic because it hits all the right notes: it’s sweet and silly and poignant and just makes you feel good. And a midnight screening on a summer Saturday might be the most perfectly carefree time to see it — you know, aside from when you’re cutting class.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
dir. John Hughes
Part of the ongoing series: Midnight Specials