Thursday, January 31, 2013

CANON OF FILM: "FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF"




When I originally wrote this Canon of Film entry, I started with a long diatribe explaining my laziness, about how I hadn’t watched as many films as I had planned, and how I had wanted to write on another movie or two, instead of writing on “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”. Well, coincidence of coincidences, I’m posting this Canon of Film entry, while in the middle of another run of laziness on my part. I haven’t exactly been lazy. I’ve been writing constantly, on my blog, and personally, and coming up with new ideas, but I haven’t been watching as many movies lately, and nothing that I’ve thought about writing on, has really sparked enough interest in me to actually write on, despite my self-imposed deadlines, and frankly, I just feel lazy. Does this mean I’m writing a canon entry on “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” out of just an unwillingness to scour through the video store or the library and rent something that I know is good and force myself to sit through it a couple times, or pick a random subject off of imdb.com, or deadline or variety and just make write myself a page or two on it? Yes, it does, but why should I do any of those things anyway? Isn’t the point of “Ferris Bueller’s…” is that I shouldn’t be doing that? Or to put it as he would, “Life moves pretty fast, sometimes if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” I think that’s why this film has continually stayed popular for so many years, because it can be watched without thinking about it too much, and can be thoroughly enjoyed, but if you sit back and watch it, and look around it in for a while, you’ll realize there’s a subtle sophistication involved in the movie that makes it a lot more than just a high school fantasy film. Like how Cameron’s (Alan Ruck) father’s car is place on a pedestal next to his father’s house, or how Ferris (Matthew Broderick) observes his way of manipulating the school system as not just trying to beat the system, but as more along the lines of something that’s part of a greater whole in life. Ferris is actually quite like Tim Robbins in “The Shawshank Redemption,” easily able to wander the streets of Chicago like Robbins does the jailhouse yard without a care in the world, because he realizes a greater truth than just whether or not one goes to school on a particular day. The adults have long since lost their idealization of this, so naturally they’re too simple-minded to matter, except for comic relief.  Of all the John Hughes film about high school, this one seems the least realistic. I can’t think of anybody from my high school past that fits the Ferris Bueller archetype who didn’t either OD or become too druggedd out to function in this world. Maybe on that level it fails, but for obvious reasons, maybe it’s good that the character isn’t particularly realistic. The Cameron and Sloane (Mia Sara) characters are believable, and do actually strike a raw nerve, particularly Ruck’s Cameron, as a kid who plays second fiddle to his father’s classic car, which of course Ferris talks him into stealing. He’s always sick, and seems to be more in need out a good night out than anybody in the world, yet is a good friend to Ferris and vice-versa. Ferris gives him a day out to do anything and everything, something I surely didn’t do enough of in school. Film Critic/Columnist Richard Roeper, who’s known for listing this film as one of his all-time favorite, noted that a hidden subtext of the movie is that it’s a “Suicide-Prevention Film”. To some extent, he’s right. It also works as a decent Chicago travelogue, but Roeper's right, that part get overlooked by a lot of people, that Ferris isn’t a prototype of what high school kids wish they were; he’s actually the friend all high school kids wish they had, and that’s a character archetype that is fairly unique to “Ferris Bueller…”   

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