An in-depth critical analysis of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

Don’t bother. It’s rubbish.

It’s like someone in late 1992 thought “What if we made a film like Wayne’s World, but with all the charm boiled out of it and the lead character made into an entitled jerk?”, then slipped through a time vortex back to 1986 and made it.

(Admittedly, a more parsimonious explanation would that someone in the early 1990s thought “What if we made a film like Ferris Bueller but with wit, charm and all-round good-nature?”, since that doesn’t involve time travel.)

A film where his sister Jeannie was the protagonist could have been much more interesting. But a film about a guy who is literally too cool for school, and who expresses that by always doing exactly what he wants with no regard for the consequences — for himself or others — is boring.

Also: these characters:

Cameron: I don’t know what I’m gonna do.
Sloane: College.
Cameron: Yeah, but to do what?
Sloane: What are you interested in?
Cameron: Nothing.
Sloane: Me neither!

Is there anything more boring that people who aren’t interested in anything?

So that was a wasted evening. I should have stayed with Plan A and re-watched a few episodes of Rick and Morty.

7 responses to “An in-depth critical analysis of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

  1. I loved that movie when I was younger. Haven’t seen it in a long long time. Curious to know how I’d enjoy it now. I still love the “Oh Yeah” song from the soundtrack.

  2. Jeshua Smith

    At my college orientation a number of people in my group listed this as their favorite movie, and I had never heard of it. A few years ago I ran across it on Netflix and watched it to see what all the fuss was about, and your review pretty much matches my thoughts. I also fail to see the appeal of Napoleon Dynamite, and Dumb and Dumber, so I think they just don’t fit my sense of humor.

  3. I think the point is that it resonated with a lot of us at the time, since we were young idiots who liked Clash of the Titans and other rubbish; so Ferris is a dumb but fun movie, along the same lines as Pretty in Pink and all _those_ movies. So, it was a popcorn film. I liked it, still sort of do for old times sake :)

    So.. you going on a retro movie review kick? Next up .. Say Anything for that time John Cusack held up a ghetto blaster?

  4. Jeff, I don’t think “those movies” are going to stand up as a category for me. For example, I remember very much liking The Sure Thing, which I guess would fall into that group? But I might re-watch that one and see how it stands up — maybe it, like Ferris Bueller, only works when you’re a certain age. (Though even at that age it’s hard to see how I would ever have liked someone as flagrantly self-regarding and manipulative as Bueller.)

  5. At the time I didn’t realize Bueller was such a prick, as he seemed like that cool friend we all sort of wish we had? But later on, I realized
    .. where’d he get the money for a trip? did he steal it?
    .. seemed awfully manipulative to his friend Cam, forcing a relationship crisis with his family
    .. not to mention taking his friends dads rare beloved ferrari

    How about the theory that Cameron is the onmyll real character, Ferris is a figment of his imagination (like Fight Club..), and Ferris girlfriend is the fantasy girl he wants but is too quiet to ask out?

  6. I would agree with most of the comments – it’s a period piece that works for those of us who were “that age” at “that time”. For me growing up not too far from Chicago the scene also works well, being common landmarks many US “mid-westerners”. It’s clearly not as insightful as “The Breakfast Club” or maybe even “Pretty in Pink”, but popcorn does describe it well. Tasty, but probably shouldn’t consume too much.

    My vote for a full review of the John Cusack catalog. ( I **love** Gross Pointe Blank, total popcorn but great, snappy dialog. )

  7. Ferris was a jerk. He was supposed to be a jerk. The main character was Cameron. He grew from his experiences. Jeff was right about this. It does help to think of Ferris as a manic pixie dream girl, except he’s ostensibly a guy.
    The Sure Thing was a much better movie. It was a remake of It Happened One Night. Since it was a remake, the dialog was much cruder, but it more less followed the original plot and the original character development.

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