“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
What is there to say about Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? As it reaches its 30th anniversary this year, this movie still holds up as one of the most influential and beloved teen movies of all time. If the “playing hooky” trope was around before this film, it certainly wasn’t yet perfected. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is a film about letting go and living life with a surprising touch of complexity for such a wacky journey.
Watching this film again, I find myself rooting for Ferris just as much as before. This is the type of movie through which people vicariously live out their high school dreams. I think Ferris always seems to be the good guy, despite the narcissism and poor sense of loyalty to his friends, because he makes some sad observations about growing up. College is coming, and he believes high school is the time to have adventures. He predicts a sad future for his friend Cameron, and his selfish actions seem to have some root in a desire to make his friend find happiness in the same way he has.
Comedies like these aren’t always rooted in the sturdiest realities. The talking to the camera, the gag shots, the impeccable series of coincidences – but this isn’t the film to try and criticize for those things. Just like Ferris, John Hughes lets go and assures us there’s nothing to worry about here. It’s about having a good time. This lends the film a lot of heart, which is why it has become so beloved by so many people. Whenever you want to call the film on something out of place, you just end up smiling because you’ve been taking it too seriously.
Ferris Bueller draws from the same well as a movie such as The Wolf of Wall Street. These are movies about excess and spectacle. Someone is living this fantastic life or going on some incredible journey, and you’re just along for the ride. Character is built through experience. The art museum, the ball game, the iconic parade – these are all just scenes to make you laugh as if you are enjoying yourself right there with Ferris and his pals, further enhanced by the breaking of the fourth wall.
All of this amounts to the final quote in the film recited above. You can’t take anything too seriously. Both Cameron and Ferris’s sister Jeanie come to realize this by the end of the film, and their lives are enriched because of it. Ferris spreads his philosophy of good times and self-indulgence because everyone is way too serious all the time. It’s simple, but it will always ring true to viewers.
Some may view this as a funny movie for teenagers and that we all have to grow up eventually and face the real world. It’s not teaching practical values. That may be so, but if you don’t find it goddamned hilarious when mean old Mr. Rooney has to ride that school bus with the kids in the end credits scene with his clothes torn up and mud on his shoes, then you’re just a heartless monster.
Films Left to Watch: 991