Generally speaking, I do not care for the films of John Hughes. When we look at most coming-of-age movies from the 80’s and their depictions of teenagers, Hughes’s films often come off to me as extremely smug to the point they don’t seem to ring true (that also includes what’s often noted as his most beloved film, The Breakfast Club) and what I won’t deny is that Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is exactly that. Yet unlike most of his oeuvre with the teenage comedy, I actually rather highly enjoy Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Yes, it consists of what I normally would dislike in a John Hughes film but something about it left a charm that entertains someone like myself.
The main issue at hand is our titular character, Ferris Bueller. Ferris Bueller is a manipulative, arrogant, self-centered, sociopathic individual, and the movie works around how audiences are to be charmed by these qualities to his character – much like the rebellious teenager will do. While I don’t particularly like the antics that Ferris Bueller would engage for his girlfriend and his unstable friend to take part in, what I do like about how Ferris Bueller’s Day Off moves on is how true it stays to the spirit of teenage rebellion, which is a factor as to why I feel this is John Hughes’s best film if we’re talking his coming-of-age comedies. He’s sticking true to what teenage rebellion does to people who hang around others who are much like Ferris Bueller.
Although I won’t deny that Ferris Bueller has so many unlikable qualities to him, there’s a good message to which he sends off that still can be kept in mind by people today; if you’re young, you should live within the moment while it’s lasting. It’s henceforth where I find that Ferris Bueller’s Day Off sends so many mixed messages across the board. One message that picks up comes from anyone who picks up an intent being made to be charmed by the character of Ferris Bueller, just how to be a rebel and an unlikable individual in return and another being how you should be living the moment while it’s still around. Whichever one you choose, it’s ultimately the call of the viewer.
Matthew Broderick plays the role with a delightful sense of charisma, because it certainly can be felt he’s having fun while the spotlight is shining on him. Broderick’s charisma is what carries Ferris Bueller’s Day Off from start to finish and even in spite of the sort of character which he displays, there’s at least something entertaining when we look at how Broderick is just simply having as much fun as he possibly can with the role. I only wish that Alan Ruck and Mia Sara, who play Bueller’s best friend and his girlfriend, respectively, could have carried the same joy because while Ferris Bueller is ready to return back to his normal anxieties at the end of the day, it seems like his friends don’t have so much of a resolution to be proud of.
There’s a lot to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off that would call for me to hate it, but I would be lying if I say it didn’t make me laugh. At least watching Ferris Bueller think he’s living in such glory is where I find that the film is funny but also how prepared he was in order to humiliate his school principal, which shows off a sense of absurdity. Some specific elements I feel can come off as preposterous (I don’t know how many newspapers would have everything revolving around one teenager no matter how many absences they have or how sick they are, considering how “Save Ferris” was placed everywhere) but like Ferris says, one should live in the moment while it lasts. What we have here is merely an entertaining movie that sends off so many mixed messages. At least for a more focused movie with its message on rebellion within youth, I’ll take Mike Nichols’s The Graduate over this.
Watch the trailer right here.
All images via Paramount.
Directed by John Hughes
Screenplay by John Hughes
Produced by John Hughes, Tom Jacobson
Starring Matthew Broderick, Mia Sara, Alan Ruck
Release Year: 1986
Running Time: 103 minutes