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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Cindy Prascik's Retro-Review: Happy 30th Anniversary, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off!

Dearest Blog: Yesterday, as is only fitting, I blew off work to revisit Ferris Bueller's Day Off on the big screen, on this, its 30th Anniversary.
You've had three decades to catch up with this one, dear reader(s), so this review/retrospective may be spoilerific, and I'll hear no complaints! Also, do forgive me if I ramble. This movie holds a very special place in my heart!
Chicago's coolest teen skips school and leads two friends on a series of adventures around the city.
True story: Way back in 1986, I saw Ferris Bueller's Day Off at the theatre, not because I went to see Ferris Bueller's Day Off, but because the cinema offered it as a free Saturday "sneak peek" before whatever feature we intended to see. 
We got a free poster and a free badge (both bearing the legend "Leisure Rules," and both of which I still have), and, though the intended viewing is long forgotten, Ferris Bueller's Day Off stood as my favorite movie for more than two decades, and still clings to a spot very near the top of my All-Time Favorites list.
Writer/director John Hughes refers to Ferris Bueller's Day Off as his love letter to the city of Chicago, but it is perhaps cinema's greatest love letter to the 1980s as well. Everything on the screen bursts with the vibrant colors that epitomize the decade, from the perfect blue sky to the crazy 80s fashions (anybody still have one of those fringed jackets?), to that gorgeous candy-apple-red Ferrari. The picture boasts a magnificent 80s soundtrack, featuring Big Audio Dynamite, the B52s, Yellow, Sigue-Sigue Sputnik, English Beat, Dream Academy, and General Public. The band posters that paper Ferris' bedroom walls tip the cap to some of the decade's even cooler acts: the Damned, Flesh for Lulu, Bryan Ferry, and Simple Minds.
There's no denying the some terrible, scary things happened in the 80s. The Cold War. The Challenger disaster. Nonetheless, this movie reflects the unrelenting joy and positivity that permeated much entertainment and popular culture of the time. How do you get through the bad if there's not a sunny afternoon at the ballpark, a visit to the art museum, or lunch at a nice restaurant on the other side? Sitting at Wrigley Field, Ferris tells his best friend Cameron: "If we played by the rules, right now we'd be in gym," as the camera cuts to a group of miserable-looking boys jogging around a high-school track. THAT was being young in the 80s: Sure, that other stuff is still going on, but let's have some fun!
From the guy whose name is above the title to the random student sleeping on his desk, the cast of Ferris Bueller's Day Off is perfect. Matthew Broderick is the consummate "cool kid," in both appearance and demeanor. Not for a minute is it hard to believe he could parlay a senior skip day into an entire town pulling for his good health! 
The lovely Mia Sara is the ultimate cheerleader girlfriend, a beauty most of the boys at school would be afraid to ask out, let alone claim as their own. As Ferris' long-suffering sidekick, Alan Ruck does most of the movie's heavy lifting. His deadpan humor is terrific, but even better is his embodiment of a teen with a miserable home life, coming to an age when his parents will be forced to respect him as an adult. A popular movie like Ferris Bueller's Day Off always seems to be on somewhere, to the point it becomes background noise, but these are the things that really make it special and warrant your full attention, still. While the grownups are merely cogs in the wheel of Ferris' adventure, they are iconic nonetheless, and it's Jeffrey Jones and Edie McClurg who provide the picture's best laugh-out-loud moments.
Ferris Bueller's Day Off serves as a reminder of a few things too infrequently found in Hollywood these days: A movie that's no longer than it needs to be, a movie that's funny without being mean or rude, and, most importantly, a movie that's unique. The well-paced picture clocks in just shy of two hours, and boasts a consistently good-natured humor that is all but lost on today's movie landscape. It is a delightful, original bit of filmmaking that is, simply, a perfect reflection of its time.
Ferris Bueller's Day Off clocks in at 103 minutes, and is rated PG13 for "some strong language and adult situations."
Ferris Bueller's Day Off is an unmatched classic that continues to stand the test of time. 
Many thanks to Marquee Cinemas and Flashback Cinema for this opportunity to celebrate the movie's 30th Anniversary in style! 
Of a possible nine Weasleys, Ferris Bueller's Day Off unquestioningly deserves all nine.
In the immortal words of Ferris himself: "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it." 
Until next time...

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