Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Year: 1986
Studio: Paramount
Director: John Hughes
Producer: John Hughes
Writer: John Hughes
Cast: Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck, Mia Sara, Jeffrey Jones, Edie McClurg, Charlie Sheen, Kristy Swanson
Ask 10 people what their favourite movie is, and at least one of them will cite John Hughes ultimate slacker comedy.

What I've heard said about Ferris Bueller is that it's the ultimate antithesis of the hero's journey that forms the basis for most movies. He doesn't achieve any personal, sexual, spiritual or financial goal. It's about him actually stopping all that for one day, withdrawing from the rat race to do so. That's the point, the premise, the resolution and the simplicity of the film; it's about people not doing anything.

That's not to say there's not a lot going on. The pursuit by principal Edward R Rooney (Jones) and the constant and audacious one-in-a-million shots of getting busted keep the movie taut and keep you interested no matter what the subtext (whether or not it was even intentional).

The multiple devices at play should never have worked. Ferris' direct-to-camera monologues complete with onscreen instructions to making your parents believe you're sick only happen once; it's neither a gimmick that overshadows the story nor a throwaway gesture.

It doesn't have the taut plotting of an action film or thriller, so when we waste time watching Ferris change outfits ten times, play the clarinet, draw a picture of a naked woman on his computer or make the prank call to Rooney with Cameron (Ruck, in one of the film's best scenes), it works despite not getting the story or characters anywhere.

Broderick has never been better or cooler since, and joined by several actors who've caused momentary blips on the cultural radar ever since (Dirty Dancing, Timecop, Star Trek: Generations), it's one of those films that's taken on a life of its own – every line priceless, every set-up endlessly pored over and appreciated.

Its charm infuses everything and what would have looked like a so-so idea on paper is one of the most popular comedies of all time for a reason.

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