Let’s take a step back in time again to the 1980’s, when the music was wild, the politics were Reagan-infused and John Hughes was reigning as one of the kings of Hollywood with his movies.
Another one of John’s great films is the 1986 summer classic Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Starring Matthew Broderick, Mia Sara, Alan Ruck, with a fun supporting cast including Jennifer Grey, Jeffrey Jones, Lyman Ward, Cindy Pickett, Ben Stein, Charlie Sheen and more. This is one of those 80’s movies that never stops being fun to watch, no matter how many times a person views it.
Everyone knows the main plot of the movie. Charming soon-to-graduate senior Ferris Bueller decides to skip school, bringing along his girlfriend Sloane and best friend Cameron for a day of fun and sight-seeing in Chicago. There’s also the amusing side story of his sister Jeannie spending the day fuming that Ferris pulls off ditching while she has to attend classes. Not to mention the other hilarious side plot of Dean of the school Edward Rooney spending the day trying to prove that Ferris is nothing short of a delinquent, while getting all sorts of mayhem brought down on his head. Yet in the end, the main point of the story isn’t about missing classes, or sibling rivalries or even academic standing, it’s about one of the greatest cultural cities in America.
The movie is essentially John Hughes stating how much affection he has for the Windy City. A native son of Illinois, it would stand to reason that many of his greatest films take place in Illinois and near Chicago (Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, Home Alone, Weird Science ). To give further support to how much Chicago meant to him, John was quoted in 1986 as saying:
“Chicago is what I am,” said Hughes. “A lot of Ferris is sort of my love letter to the city. And the more people who get upset with the fact that I film there, the more I’ll make sure that’s exactly where I film. It’s funny–nobody ever says anything to Woody Allen about always filming in New York. America has this great reverence for New York. I look at it as this decaying horror pit. So let the people in Chicago enjoy Ferris Bueller.”
Hughes isn’t wrong. He shows all the best and brightest cultural aspects of Chicago. From the heights of the Sears Tower Skydeck, to a grand old ballgame at Wrigley Field, to fine dining at the fictional “Chez Quis,” to seeing works of art at The Art Institute. And of course, crashing a parade on Dearborn and Adams (including the fabulous dance sequence to “Twist and Shout” with 10,000 Chicagoans).
Despite there not being any true lesson learned for Ferris, Cameron walks away from the experience a profoundly changed fellow. He starts out being basically neurotic, always fretting about life and on the verge of cracking up with worry. Especially worrying because of what he is afraid his father will do to him after he, Ferris and Sloane borrow the car (the custom-made red 1961 Ferrari). By the end of the day, he’s determined to no longer let his dad control his life, asserting to stand up to him after accidentally destroying the Ferrari. It’s a lesson that everyone can appreciate, being their own self and not being defined by their parents or the world around them.
Aside from good, wholesome fun, and beautiful Chicago scenery and life-changing lessons, the movie is chock full of funny scenes. Ben Stein’s droning on about “voodoo economics” and Charlie Sheen’s character helping Jennifer Grey to realize she needs to stop worrying so much about her brother. And let’s not forget Mr. Rooney getting his comeuppance from both the Bueller’s dog and Jeannie, and also getting his car towed for parking in front of the hydrant.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is another of those timeless 80’s classics that, like John Hughes’ other movie achievements, will still be just as beloved down the road as it is now. People get a lot of laughs, a lot of great music, witty dialogue, memorable characters, all these elements joined together into one giant grab bag of high quality movie mania!! So do the summer right, watch Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, hit up Chicago, enjoy the sights and remember “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”