Overview: A high school senior plays hooky, and it’s more entertaining than it has any right to be. Paramount Pictures; 1986; PG-13; 102 minutes.
The Good: John Hughes’s fourth outing as a director results in what might be his finest work. The premise is simple: Ferris convinces his uptight best friend Cameron to play hooky with him. Ferris’s girlfriend Sloane rounds out the group of truants, and they go on an adventure in Chicago. Their idea of a good time? Eating a nice meal, going to a parade, and watching a baseball game. That’s it. The result is completely inoffensive, and while that might make many movies bland, in this case it works. The viewer cannot help but enjoy the ride with the group of friends as they bounce along to an infectiously cheery soundtrack.
The Bad: There’s something generally smarmy and off-putting about Matthew Broderick, but in this film it’s thankfully limited to his fourth wall-breaking monologues. The rest of the time he charms the other characters and viewers alike. A few things (like the coolness factor of MTV) are dated, but that’s to be expected and it never detracts from the film.
The Characters: Seriously, there’s not much wrong with this movie. The prevailing themes of freedom and friendship are timeless. Alan Ruck’s Cameron steals the show as he learns to enjoy the little things and let other things go (like the destruction of his father’s Ferrari). Jeffrey Jones’s Mr. Rooney, who is ostensibly the film’s villain, is never despicable and delights with physical comedy. Even Charlie Sheen, now better known for his tiger blood than his acting, is surprisingly human in his brief role. This is how coming-of-age movies should be made.
Overall: Oftentimes when a movie is declared “feel-good,” it’s a schlocky, inspirational hackjob. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is an actual feel-good film. It’s the perfect pick-me-up movie for the end of a long day, and everyone should see it at least once.