To this day, it is one of the most memorable lines of the 1980s. Why is that? It must be because the film, and its maker, is iconic. It, along with other films, defined a generation and that is its legacy. Many skeptics wonder why it has the echelon and it is my self – deemed task to explain its important place in American culture.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off concerned a high school senior who desires to cause trouble and get away with it. Here was the thing. He did! His philosophy was “life goes by so fast that if you don't stop and look around, you might miss it." That line appeared twice in the film – at the beginning and end. Wise words for an eighteen year old.
With his mantra, Ferris Bueller gathered his best friend Cameron Frye and girlfriend Sloane Peterson and they skipped school in the fictitious suburb of Sherman, Illinois, for a fun day in Chicago. That was the general thought but specific scenes highlight Bueller’s thinking. Take the lunch scene for example. Obviously they have no business being there, but he outsmarted the maître d into thinking he is Abe Froman – “Sausage King of Chicago” – and took his reservation.
Another instance was when Bueller attempted to make Frye feel better about their day and hijacked a German – American parade and sang the Wayne Newton rendition of “Danke Schoen” and then topped it off with The Beatles’ rendition of “Twist and Shout.” That was the pinnacle of the film’s fun as it appeared nearly all of Dearborn Street and its surroundings took part in the celebration. A good song choice to get rowdy.
During all of this, Dean of Students Edward Rooney attempted to catch Bueller in truancy and withhold his graduation for excessive absences. His attempt to achieve that was a hilarious failure. He was spit on, lost a shoe, chased by a Rottweiler, kicked in the face by Jeanie Bueller – Ferris’ sister – , got his car towed, and given a humiliating bus ride back to school. We can tell these events were a preview for Home Alone. Classic stuff.
Matthew Broderick was great at playing Bueller, as it is his best role. Alan Ruck played the great neurotic character that was Cameron Frye but like Broderick, he did nothing substantial afterwards. Furthermore, I cannot name one movie Mia Sara – Sloane Peterson – was in post Bueller. Jennifer Grey, who was Jeanie, did another iconic film but had a much larger role in that than this. Jeffrey Jones – Rooney – went on to star in Beatlejuice but this was his best spot. He was fantastic as Rooney. Whenever I think of a dimwitted school official, Rooney comes to mind. Finally on this list, is Charlie Sheen. His role as the druggie in the police station is his best acting. He stayed up for two or three days straight to get that look and he absolutely nailed it.
The film was peppered with quotable lines. Obviously, the “Bueller” line but there were more.
- “Drugs?” “Thank you, no. I’m straight.” “I meant, are you here for drugs?” “Why are you here?” “Drugs.”
- “So THAT’S how it is in their family…”
- “What’s the score?” “Nothin’ nothin’” “Who’s winning?” “The Bears.”
- “Oh, he's very popular, Ed. The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wasteoids, dweebies, dickheads, they all adore him. They think he's a righteous dude.”
There is a debate that often transpires as to who is the main character. I am not entirely interested in that as I am about answering why this film and its director are iconic.
John Hughes was known as the director who defined Generation X through his adolescent films throughout the 1980s. When discussing films in the 1980s, or films in general, one cannot forget about him. Whether viewers liked Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is irrelevant because of how the characters were defined throughout the pieces. It all came down to relativity. I am an older Millennial but would much rather be considered a young Gen X – er because of the idiotic stigma that exists in being a Millennial. Younger Millennials have a clue as to why Hughes’ films are important because they cannot relate to those stories; whereas the older generation appreciates them because it described their attitude toward authority. Sure, parents and other authoritative members may never understand the youth, but Hughes’ teen films exemplified that notion to an art and science.
Having stated that, Bueller brought out the fun in getting away with something. The plot in and of itself displayed it but in a more subtle manner, examine how Jeanie left the police station. She told the Sheen character that most guys called her Shauna. When did they do that? I never heard a single character call her “Shauna.” She tried to be cool in front of the guy and it was hardly noticeable, which was ingenious.
There are, however, some hokey moments so it is understood why some may not think this is great but its iconic status is unequivocal.