Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

05/11/17

The John Hughes season at The Cameo concludes with what might just be his most enjoyable movie. First released in 1986, it recounts the adventures of its titular hero, a wise-beyond-his years teenager, intent on taking the day off high school, even though he’s in danger of not graduating. With his best friend, Cameron (Alan Ruck), and his girlfriend, Sloane (Mia Sara), in tow, he sets off to raise hell  in and around the city of Chicago. Meanwhile, his nemesis, school principal Ed Rooney (Jeffrey Jones), goes in deadly pursuit, intent on bringing down the kid who has outsmarted him all year long.

Unlike some of Hughes’ other movies (Sixteen Candles, I’m looking at you!), Ferris Bueller’s Day Off has aged splendidly. Matthew Broderick is incredibly appealing in the lead role – you fully understand how he can charm his way out of difficult situations – and Hughes’ celebration of teenage culture wins spectacularly because you sense his genuine liking and respect for his protagonists and his insistence on never talking down to them. The scene where Ferris gatecrashes a parade and delivers a spirited rendition of Twist and Shout never fails to make me smile.

With the benefit of hindsight, it’s fun to speculate that Jennifer Grey as Ferris’s long-suffering sister, Jeanie, was still ten years away from taking the world by storm in Dirty Dancing; that Alan Ruck was at the beginning of an acting career that endures to this day; and – oh yes – the cameo for ‘kid in the police station?’ Could that be…? Yes, it is. Charlie Sheen, making his twelfth film appearance. As a kid busted for drugs…

You could argue that it’s just a piece of fluff, but fluff is rarely done as well as this joyful, exuberant, and consistently funny slice of eighties entertainment – and what a pleasure to see it back on the big screen. Don’t forget to hang on for the post-credit bit. This may be the first film to actually feature one.

4.2 stars

Philip Caveney

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