Ferris Bueller’s Day Off turns 35 this year. So, Paramount saw fit to give us a Steelbook version of the movie. I would have loved to have seen a 4K UHD release, but give it a few months. Somewhere between Josh Gad reuniting the cast during the Pandemic and the 20th reaction video, I hit a wall with Ferris Bueller. It’s not one of those age shift things where you start identifying with Cameron or Rooney. I just realized that I don’t like Bueller as a character.
John Hughes started as a Lampoon writer who broke out into his own cinematic Universe. While he was a script doctor and punched up work for others, he shined on his own stuff. However, he had a Kryptonite throughout all of his work. If Hughes hadn’t directly experienced what he’s showing onscreen, his work falls apart. Don’t believe me? Compare Sixteen Candles, Curly Sue and Pretty in Pink to anything else in his output.
When the focus is female, he beefs up the supporting cast and then tries to find the lead role. However, this fell apart over time. Why? Well, because Hughes got older. The farther you get away from a Ferris Bueller mindset, the harder it becomes to write the character. At this point in time, Hughes was 35 writing about the pressures of a 17 year old growing up into manhood. He could call upon distant memory, but 1967 mindsets don’t translate in 1986. And, 1986 doesn’t translate to 2003 or even 2020.
Matthew Broderick also doesn’t help the matter. As an actor in his early 20s with an Intellectual Elite NYC background, he doesn’t play a Midwest smart teen that well. In fact, it’s almost like watching an ad exec portray the teen King of Kings in a way that only works on Madison Avenue. He’s Zack the Lego Maniac by way of the Power Glove Teen from The Wizard. Ferris Bueller isn’t complex, he’s a fantasy designed to inspire people to nothing.
Teen movies like this are funny. While I find it a waste to bemoan creations from a past decade, there has always been something inherently flawed with this era of Hughes and his teen movies. I lumped Sixteen Candles and Breakfast Club into their own realm. It’s that 86-87 class of films where you had Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller and Some Kind of Wonderful. The kids shared the shells of the same goals as the older Shermer kids.
However, they couldn’t wait to be sell out jerks at the drop of a hat. Eric Stoltz and Molly Ringwald played teens willing to sell out what they believe for the promise of something better. They only settled for what they got after everything worked out favorably. What Matthew Broderick does is something different as Ferris Bueller. Somewhere between Hughes’ failing to connect with the youth of the time and the portrayal…we find a monster.
Ferris Bueller is the kind of sociopath that ends up becoming the tyrants of tomorrow or titans of brutal industry. If everything they believe they can make happen, then what is to ground them to a society of rules? Given that we have a generation that idolizes Rick Sanchez, the Bueller antics feel cute. It’s amazing to see how far we come in our shared fictions.
Paramount brings Ferris Bueller’s Day off to Blu-ray in a Steelbook format. That’s really it. Most of the special features have been on Ferris Bueller’s multiple trips to Blu-ray this decade. Pick it up if you don’t already own a copy.