Ferris Buller’s Day Off is a YOLO film for the ages

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Director: John Hughes
Screenplay: John Hughes
Cast: Matthew Broderick, Mia Sara, Alan Ruck, Jeffrey Jones, Jennifer Grey

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The 1986 hit teen film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off proves that contrary to popular belief, our generation did not create the You Only Live Once consciousness, or simply YOLO as we fondly call it nowadays. Truth is, ‘80s people are doing YOLO before YOLO was actually cool.

The movie’s premise is simple: a high school senior named Ferris Bueller wanted to skip school one day so he malingered using the steps he has already mastered. He was able to convince his unsuspecting parents but not her sister who protested and tried to reveal Ferris’ fake illness to no avail. As soon as his family leaves, Ferris enlists the help of his best friend Cameron Frye and girlfriend Sloane Peterson to complete his impromptu adventure around the city. But Ferris’ stunts didn’t run smoothly — the dean of his high school saw through his lies and hopped from one venue to another just to entrap him. Did the principal emerge victorious in his pursuit of our naughty senior? I do not intend to spoil you so let’s just say that unlike most high school students who attempted to fool around, Ferris did get away with his day-long adventure.

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To consider Ferris Buller’s Day Off just as a plain high school film is to underestimate it to a great degree; not to mention that it would also be misleading as a great chunk of the movie did not even take place in school premises. The movie is an example of a great coming-of-age film and, like any other John Hughes creation, the film is surprisingly deep, complex, and iconic.

Speaking of director John Hughes (allow me to digress a little bit), Ferris Buller’s Day Off would not have succeeded without him at its helm. The movie brims with quirks and antics that bear the signature style of Hughes himself. In turn, Ferris Buller’s Day Off solidified Hughes’ status as one of the masters in the high school and youth-themed films all over the world. Following the success of his previous films such as Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, and the hugely popular The Breakfast Club, Ferris Buller’s Day Off became a very worthy addition to the Hughes’ movie canon — and that is despite the noticeable absence of Molly Ringwald, his most prominent muse and fixture.

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But a movie that is as unconventional as Ferris Buller’s Day Off has its fair share of detractors. So let’s tackle the longstanding contention: does the movie really promote skipping school among youths? First of all, viewers must never forget that the movie is tongue-in-cheek. Second, I would like to believe that the movie, from the point of view of an outcast, told exactly what it feels like to be in high school.

As evident in his monologue, Ferris is a person who dances to beat of his own drum. He couldn’t care less about an institution that is, to his standards, “childish and stupid.” High school alienated him and made him realize that its ways doesn’t exactly fit his. And let’s face it: high school isn’t designed for everyone, especially those who are constantly chasing after high-powered, adrenaline-charged adventures. That’s just the point the movie and Ferris is trying to make.

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Contributing to the success of every John Hughes film is the brilliant choice of cast — this, too, is very evident in Ferris Buller’s Day Off. The young and dreamy Matthew Broderick was spot on as the titular character. He perfectly played the cocky, smart aleck role without losing his boy-next-door charm. Alan Ruck made for a great sidekick who eventually got over his deep-seated worries while Mia Sara was convincing as a half-unwilling, half-complying accomplice-slash-girlfriend. Jennifer Grey was great especially when she started interacting with Charlie Sheen’s character. However, it was Jeffrey Jones who stole the scene as a principal desperate to expose his troublesome student’s deception. Jones tried so hard to bring in the laughs and boy did he triumph.

I’m finding it difficult to believe that Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is turning 30 in a few years’ time because truth be told, nothing much has changed. High school still doesn’t embrace everyone and it continues to be a horrible place for people who are wired differently. The good thing, however, is that there are Ferris Buellers everywhere who are aware that there is more to life that just the four corners of a classroom.

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Posted below is Ferris’ impressive monologue that has maintained its relevant until today. You’re welcome.

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it. I do have a test today, that wasn’t bull-s**t. It’s on European socialism. I mean really, what’s the point. I’m not European. I don’t plan on being European, so who gives a crap if they’re socialists. They could be fascist anarchists and it still wouldn’t change the fact that I don’t own a car. It’s not that I condone fascism or any ‘ism’ for that matter. Ism’s, in my opinion, are not good. A person should not believe in an ‘ism,’ he should believe in himself. I quote John Lesson: ‘I don’t believe in Beatles. I just believe in me.’ A good point there. After all, he was the walrus. I could be the walrus. I’d still have to bum rides off of people.”

— X

 

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