John Hughes ruled the 80’s. He wasn’t the most prolific or active of directors in that decade, nor was every one of his films a hit (She’s Having a Baby anyone?), but he struck a nerve with films that seemed to effortlessly understand the 80’s teenager; never pandering or pretending, but always genuinely heartfelt and funny whether it was the wacky Weird Science or the quintessential The Breakfast Club. He just seemed to ‘get it’. The 1980’s were a golden age for comedies, churning out classics (though that term may be driven more from personal preference) like Police Academy, The Naked Gun, The Blues Brothers, Tootsie, Spies Like Us, Coming to America, and a big bag of genuinely great films from John Hughes, chief among them the simple tale of a popular kid, Ferris Bueller, who fakes sickness to skive off from school with his girlfriend and best friend and enjoy a fantastic day away from high school.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: 25th Anniversary
Studio: Paramount Pictures
US Rating: PG-13
Film Length: 102 Minutes
Video: MPEG4-AVC 1080P High Definition 16X9
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio: English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, English 2.0 Dolby Surround, English Mono
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese
Release Date: August 2, 2011
Review Date: August 2, 2011
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it”
The Film: 4.5 out of 5
Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) isn’t your average High School senior; he’s popular, clever, savvy and innocently mischievous in ways others can only envy. Tired of the rigmarole of high school, Ferris decides to feigns illness, putting one past his all too trusting parents, to provide himself, his sweet girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara), and his dour, down-in-the-dumps, hypochondriac best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck) a fun day gallivanting throughout the wonders of the windy city. They will adventure from the Art Institute of Chicago to Wrigley field – with an impromptu, crowded street song and dance routine, while Bueller evades his Captain Ahab-like principle. Bueller easily freelances his way through Chicago, works on saving his best friend Cameron from himself, and inadvertently becomes the beneficiary of the ‘Save Ferris’ campaign sweeping his high school. It’s a grand day out!
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is a perfect comedy with a wealth of delightful and memorable performances from everyone involved. Broderick is terrific – almost dashing – as the slyly astute teen. Hughes employs the rarely used convention of the lead character talking to the audience (by looking directly at the camera) – and Broderick is natural and comfortable dancing on either side of the breached fourth wall. Mia Sara is sweet and innocent, happily ebbing and flowing with the jaunty Broderick, while Ruck, whose Cameron character slips between depressed and begrudgingly complicit in Bueller’s affairs, is equally good. The persistent Principle Rooney, played with just the right level of mania by Jeffrey Jones, serves as a humorous caricature antagonist to Bueller’s easy mischief. Certain that Bueller is lying the Principle flaunt with breaking and entering, stalking, and larceny before all is said and done. Jones plays it very well and he’s a perfectly likeable foil. Jennifer Grey – of Dirty Dancing Fame, and former Nixon speechwriter (and Clear-Eyes guy) Ben Stein also star – with Stein now synonymous with the teacher who utters in the implacably monotone voice the instantly recognizable “Bueller…Bueller…Bueller…”
There is earnestness about Ferris Bueller’s Day Off that belies the simplicity of the hijinks, an earnestness of the kind that exists at the core of many of Hughes’ triumphs. In Bueller’s, the emotionally hollow relationship between Ferris’ best friend Cameron and his never seen father gives Hughes the canvas to deal with the subject of emotionally distant parents, scarred kids, and the inevitable rebellion that comes from such parental oppression and sterility. These are themes that Hughes explored in most of his 80’s directorial efforts; how individuals deal with their station in life, how we are deeply affected by those closest to us, and how important it is to look a little deeper than the surface to know someone (Hughes’ Planes, Trains & Automobiles taught us that perfectly).
John Hughes wrote and directed Ferris, showing off his adept comedic writing skills honed by the likes of National Lampoon’s Vacation, Class Reunion and Mr. Mom. As is frequently his inkwell, Hughes embellishes his story with fanciful moments that are just a little larger than life (like the aforementioned song routine, or Bueller’s backyard sprint to beat his parents home), and each moment is indelibly planted in our consciousness.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is just as genuinely engaging and lively a comedy as it was back in the 80s; though high school’s today look even more distant from this fanciful portrayal, there is, dare I say, a fairytale quality to the fun and that hasn’t aged a single day.
The Video: 4 out of 5
Framed at 2.35:1 and benefiting greatly from this high definition transfer, Bueller’s 25th anniversary edition is a gift. Superb detail compared to all previous home release iterations, superb color balance and, despite some detritus sprinkled throughout, a very impressive transfer.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off marks the first film I have reviewed on my new, larger display – and I was curious to see how a now 25 year old film would hold up to the increased scrutiny. But this transfer is just gorgeous and a genuine surprise.
The Sound: 4 out of 5
Paramount has delivered Bueller on Blu-ray with a delicious English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD audio option.
The audio is impressive – good dynamic range, crisp dialogue, good balance throughout the audio sphere, even a surprising level of activity in the surrounds.
The playful soundtrack is a character in and of itself and the audio shows it off nicely!
The Extras: 3.5 out of 5
Getting the Class Together – The Cast of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (27:45): Featuring reflective interviews with the cast members – and archival footage of the late John Hughes, this is a genuinely good walk down memory lane for how the actors came to be involved.
The Making of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (15:29): A look back at the making of the film – also featuring up-to-date interviews with cast and crew members – covers a lot of ground on how Ferris Bueller’s took off (and how Hughes wrote the screenplay in 6 days to avoid the complications of a looming writer’s strike). .
Who is Ferris Bueller (9:12): Again featuring archival footage of John Hughes (and others) discussing the easy going Ferris Bueller character.
The World According to Ben Stein (10:51): Ben Stein is a curious fella and this look at his unlikely rise in the film business (from a career in behind-the-scenes politics) is intriguing.
Vintage Ferris Bueller: The Lost Tape (10:16): Revealing footage of Broderick and Ruck mucking about, as well as others missed with behind the scenes footage (note: Broderick isn’t the best interviewer)
Class Album: Navigate through images..
If you were in, getting ready to be in, or just coming out of High School in the 1980’s, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is the perfect flight of fancy for the promise of what playing truant for one day can become. For others, buying into this day off as fabled imaginative endeavor is the perfect way to find new joy in this now 25 year old gem. John Hughes passed away almost 2 years ago – on August 6, 2009 – and his loss was tragic. But what he left us was a legacy of sweet, insightful, and very, very funny films.
Very much recommended!
Overall 4.5 out of 5