Tuesday, 8 February 2011

80s Movies: Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)

Ah Ferris Bueller's Day Off, now here's a classic 80s movie if ever there was one. The story of one man's struggle to take it easy, to quote the tagline on the posters, was a massive success in 1986, and has gone on to become a cultural touchstone for an entire generation of fun-loving, anti-authoritarian slackers everywhere.

Strangely I don't think I saw this movie until atleast 2003 when was at university, so I can't really blame it for my own lazy, work-shy approach to life, the seeds of which were certainly already in place by the age of 18 (don't you just hate when you can't pin all your personal shortcomings on popular culture). Anyway, when I did see it I had high expectations, and I was absolutely not disappointed.

Writer and director John Hughes made this movie coming off the back of successes with The Breakfast Club and Weird Science in 1985, and was already a hot property in Hollywood. He wrote Ferris Bueller as a tribute to his native Chicago, and with Matthew Broderick (Wargames) already in mind for the title character. Broderick was 23 at the time of filming, but had the young looks and innocent boyish smile to pull off the role of charming high-school truant with aplomb.

The Plot

Okay, I'll try to do this in brief. Broderick plays Ferris who decides one day that he could have much more fun if he just skipped school for a day. He convinces his doting parents, but not his siter (Jennifer Grey, Dirty Dancing) that he is sick, before rounding up girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara) and best friend Cameron (the brilliant Alan Ruck, Twister) and hitting the Windy City in Cameron's dad's Ferrari.

Amongst other things the group take in a baseball game, visit an art gallery and blag a slap-up meal, all while evading the Dean of Students, Mr Rooney (another great performance by Jeffrey Jones), who provides the slapstick with his hapless pursuit of our heroes.

The iconic scene of the film is undoubtedly the parade though, where Ferris takes part in Chicago's Von Steuben Day celebrations, jumping on a float and lip-syncing to the Beatles' Twist & Shout.


Surprisingly, despite music playing such a big role in the film, no official soundtrack was ever released. Hughes didn't feel that the eclectic selection of songs he had chosen would work as an album, and in a rare victory for artistic integrity over corporate desire to cash in on a popular brand, Hughes won that argument.

If you just have to make your own Ferris Bueller playlist though, you'll need to include the aforementioned Twist & Shout, Danke Schoen which Ferris sings in the shower (and again on the float), the inimitable Oh Yeah by Yello, and finally BAD by one of my favourite 80s bands Big Audio Dynamite.

80s Movies

In February, POPSICULTURE are dedicating the month to a look back at the iconic films of the 1980s - a decade whose films continue to draw massive audiences when they are shown on TV. To follow posts in this series, check the 80s Movies label or sign up to the dedicated RSS feed.

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