‘Between grief and nothing, I’ll take grief’
Movie Review: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
‘Hughes plays to our workaday souls’ fantasies, without making us feel excluded or dumb. He urges us to follow the young hero’s example and to enjoy life a little bit, even if it moves ‘pretty fast.’ – Pete Croatto
The name John Hughes goes up on the boards with all the greats: Allen, Spielberg, Coppola, you name it. The most famous of his works, The Breakfast Club, is to date one of the most significant, most sensitive and most eloquent pieces on teenhood and growing up. But today I would love to share my personal favourite from Hughes, an often overshadowed but equally, if not more, outstanding piece: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
The film speaks of Ferris’s day off (literally) – a high school senior, notorious, free spirited – with girlfriend Sloane in one arm and best friend Cameron in the other while taking over Chicago by storm. Meanwhile, Ed, the dean of students from his high school, goes completely berserk trying to track down the trio.
What I love the most about the piece by Hughes: the chemistry between Cameron and Ferris. It was beautifully executed; spot-on script writing, of course completed with brilliant casting. Beneath all the more superficial elements, what really struck me was how Ferris and Cameron displayed, through their conversational and non-conversational interactions, the very conflicts and personalities that exist inside our very heads. Everyone has a Ferris Bueller and Cameron Frye living in them; they are the angel and devil that appear on your shoulders, the very voices in your head. Granted, the extents of these existences differ from one person to another, but they display the very classic struggle we all go through, subconscious or conscious.
Cameron: I am not going to sit on my ass as the events that affect me unfold to determine the course of my life. I’m going to take a stand. I’m going to defend it. Right or wrong, I’m going to defend it.
Sloane: What are we going to do?
Ferris: The question isn’t “what are we going to do,” the question is “what aren’t we going to do?”
Cameron: Please don’t say were not going to take the car home. Please don’t say were not going to take the car home. Please don’t say were not going to take the car home.
Cameron: Ferris Bueller, you’re my hero.
Ferris: Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
Ferris: Not that I condone fascism, or any -ism for that matter. -Ism’s in my opinion are not good. A person should not believe in an -ism, he should believe in himself. I quote John Lennon, “I don’t believe in Beatles, I just believe in me.” Good point there. After all, he was the walrus. I could be the walrus. I’d still have to bum rides off people.
The first time you watch this piece, I think it’s only natural to take it as a light hearted, coming-of-age comedy. After all, I think that was the very intention.
I’d like to go deeper, though.
The next few times you watch the piece, or just imagining the same scenes being played out by Ferris and Cameron in a Fight Club style interaction, you’d appreciate the film on a whole new level. [For those who have not caught Fight Club, that is another jem.] The dialogues don’t just stay as dialogues between 2 people; they change upon acknowledgement that they exist in your very own head. And that very revelation changes the movie into a piece of art.
An absolute classic, the unknowing predecessor of Fight Club.