I am proud to say that I am a member of Generation X. Or as proud as a Gen X-er can be. We’re not really ones to be proud about anything, especially ourselves. So, maybe not proud, but I’m definitely a member of Generation X. I fall towards the tail end of the cut off which means the pop culture that I grew up with, the music, movies, and books that help define who I am, was made in the late 1980s and early 1990s. My first musical loves tend to be hair metal and grunge, not new wave or synth-pop (though I would come to love both later in life). My cinematic memories come a little earlier, but naturally, the more mature classics of the 1980s were not watched by me until much later.
So while I loved the original Star Wars trilogy from an early age, the only one I remember seeing in the theater was Return of the Jedi. The rest I watched on cable or VHS. Films like Rain Man or Beverly Hills Cop or anything starring Arnold Schwarzenneger were rented and watched with either my Dad (when my Mom wasn’t home) or with my cousins (whose parents were much more lenient than my Mom).
I don’t think I saw a John Hughes film in the theater until Home Alone. All of his classic teen films were seen on VHS when I was well into high school. But they still had a huge impact on my life. Films like The Breakfast Club, Some Kind of Wonderful, and Pretty in Pink understood teenagers like no other films being made at the time. Teens in a John Hughes films looked, sounded, and acted like me and my friends. They smoked and cursed. They talked about and sometimes had sex. They were filled with angst and anxiety. They felt things like only teenagers can – intensely. Seeing that depicted in a movie really helped me understand who I was at the time.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is not like a normal John Hughes teen film. Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) is not like a normal teenager. He’s full of confidence. He knows exactly who he is and what he wants. And he gets what he wants. Where so many of those John Hughes films are dramas with touches of comedy, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is pure joy.
The plot is surprisingly simple – it is a beautiful day and Ferris Bueller wants to skip school and have fun. But he doesn’t have a car so he has to talk his best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck) into skipping with him, and then get his girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara) out of school too. The three then explore Chicago, sucking the very marrow out of their young lives. But, as in all things, it is the execution that makes this a classic.
The script (also written by Hughes, in less than a week) pops off the page. It moves from incident to incident and never drags. It is wondrously funny and completely rewatchable (I’ve seen the movie dozens of times in my life but never once felt bored while watching it again for this review). It is full of quotable lines and terrific music (nobody was better at ’80s soundtracks than John Hughes). Matthew Broderick is perfect. The character could have come off as a real arse, but Brockerick makes him lovable. Alan Ruck has never been better and Mia Sara is lovely.
When I was in college, I bought a second VCR for various reasons. One day I decided to hook them up together so I could dub one VHS tape to another. I wanted to make a greatest hits collection of some of my favorite scenes. Like a mixtape, but for movies. I spent the better part of a long weekend making it. It came out perfect. It was a thing of beauty. Naturally, my roommate taped over it within the week. Some sportsball game or something.
The pinnacle of that mixtape was the parade scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. It is a perfect scene. When Ferris starts lip-synching to The Beatles “Twist and Shout” while 10,000 people dance along in downtown Chicago, it is a thing of beauty. Pure, unadulterated joy. This most recent viewing came at the end of a long, hard day. I laid down on my bed feeling exhausted. When that scene came on, I sat up, sang along, and smiled like I didn’t have a care in the world.
I started to write that unlike so many other of Hughes’s teen films Ferris Bueller’s Day Off doesn’t have any of those cringe moments. A lot of his films are very dated with some poor racial stereotypes and laugh lines for date rape. But while this film doesn’t have any of those moments it does have Jeffrey Jones. He was convicted of soliciting a 14-year-old boy to pose nude and was found to be in possession of child pornography. He’s so good in this film as the schmuck principal who tries to catch Ferris skipping school, but those disgusting facts loom large over his entire performance. That’s no fault of the film as those things came about much later. And really his role isn’t that big and the film is so much fun I was able to move past those feelings and enjoy.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is one of my all-time favorite comedies. It is pure pleasure every time I watch it and I’ve watched it a lot
Here’s the thing about this disk. This is the 35th-anniversary Steelbook edition. One might assume it would be loaded with new content and lots of extras. You would be wrong. It is such a popular movie that it has received multiple releases on DVD and Blu-ray. I guess there isn’t much more to say about it. Or at least the manufacturer didn’t want to pony up to create new content. The transfer (which does look really good) is the same one as the last release and all of the extras have been ported over from previous releases too. They include multiple, really interesting, features on various aspects of making the film including interviews with all the key players.
I always love a Steelbook, but I want them to have interesting artwork. The best ones have artwork that was created just for that disk. My favorites are the pop art that really makes me want to display the disks rather than just slide them in with all my other movies. This disk’s cover is just a picture of Ferris smiling in the Ferrari.
So what I’m saying is if you already own this film on Blu-ray, there is no reason to buy another copy. However, if you don’t own a copy or only have it on DVD, then this is well worth the purchase. I’m upgrading my old DVD copy and am very satisfied.
As for the movie, well, it is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up