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FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF(director/writer: John Hughes; cinematographer: Tak Fujimoto; editor: Paul Hirsch; music: Arthur Baker/Ira Newborn/John Robie/Yello; cast: Matthew Broderick (Ferris Bueller), Alan Ruck (Cameron Frye), Mia Sara (Sloane Peterson), Jeffrey Jones (Edward R. ‘Ed’ Rooney), Jennifer Grey (Jeanie Bueller), Cindy Pickett (Katie Bueller), Lyman Ward (Tom Bueller), Edie McClurg (Grace), Charlie Sheen (boy in police station), Ben Stein (Economics Teacher), Richard Edson (Garage Attendant), Larry Flash Jenkins (Attendant’s Co-Pilot); Runtime: 103; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Michael Chinich/John Hughes/Tom Jacobson; Paramount Pictures; 1986)
“It’s an airhead teen film that nevertheless caught the public’s fancy and still remains a popular cult favorite.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An idiotic teen flick that makes sophomoric humor out of a privileged Chicago suburban high school senior going truant and hoodwinking his parents, his classmates, his community, the caricatured teachers and the cartoonish school dean Ed Rooney (Jeffrey Jones). Director and writer John Hughes (“Planes, Trains and Automobiles”/”Curly Sue”/”The Breakfast Club”), the director of the 1980s for such staple teen comedies, falls in love with his irrepressible protagonist Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) and his camera falls in love with the sights of an upscale Windy City that is seen in its best light as Hughes acts as the chamber of commerce tour guide. The film is set in the fictional idyllic affluent suburb of Shermer, Illinois.

Ferris is an obnoxious wise guy teen who is popular with everyone but his resentful younger high school student sister Jeanie (Jennifer Grey), who jealously laments “he does whatever he wants, whenever he wants to.” Also hating the kid is the beleaguered school dean, whom he loves pulling pranks on and even though the dean knows he’s not sick he can’t get his clueless business father (Lyman Ward) or his doting real estate agent mom (Cindy Pickett) to believe the kid has already been truant for nine days this school term. It seems Ferris has an ingenuity to cover his tracks when he skips school.

The cocky free-spirited kid is prone from time to time to turn to the camera to speak to the audience and offer his trite boastful comments on his philosophy of life and says such unimaginative things as the following: “I’ve said it once. I’ll say it again: life moves pretty fast; if you can’t stop and look around, you could miss it.” He’s the kind of snot-nosed punk who should be taken to the woodshed and taught a lesson, instead Hughes thinks he’s so cute and that cutting out from school by pretending to be sick and then spending the day with his goofy nervous hypochondriac best friend Cameron Frye (Alan Ruck) and his attractive playful girlfriend Sloane Peterson (Mia Sara) is a hoot.

Ferris talks Cameron into borrowing his dad’s prized classic 1961 red Ferrari 250 GT convertible and the joke is the garage attendant (Richard Edson) takes it out for a joy ride, even though they generously tip him to specially watch it. The trio go to the stock exchange; the top of the Sears Tower; a fancy restaurant where Ferris plays head games with the snooty poof maitre d’ who sarcastically tells them “I weep for the future;” a Chicago Cub game; an art museum; and then crashes a German Day parade where he sings on a float “Twist and Shout” while the street crowd does the twist. In the end, Ferris sneaks back home to bed and his parents greet him as an innocent sweetie pie.

It’s an airhead teen film that nevertheless caught the public’s fancy and still remains a popular cult favorite, as they saw it as “a joy ride from reality.” For me, the thin story and the charming premise wore out its welcome early on and the film just seemed to drag on with the one-note joke getting Hughes’ full-blown sitcom slapstick attention and growing increasingly tiresome.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”