Ferris Bueller's Day Off
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this movie has surprising amounts of profanity (including "f--k" and "s--t") and thus isn't for younger kids. Also, it's about skipping school. So you might want to get a word in about not trying this at home. Ferris lies, shows off, and steals a car. It's a little disconcerting that he never faces any consequences -- even Bart Simpson usually has to take responsibility. Mostly, the movie glorifies defiance of authority. Sure, it's a little edgy, but teens can handle it.
What's the story?
Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) wants a break from classroom drudgery to have fun in Chicago. Faking illness, Bueller's parents allow him to stay in bed to "recover." Once they're gone he ropes his friends, Cameron (Alan Ruck) and Sloane (Mia Sara), into joining him. The trio, driving Cameron's dad's treasured 1961 Ferrari convertible, hit the town. Meanwhile. a grim school faculty member (Jeffrey Jones) pursues, eager to catch Bueller. And Ferris' kid sister (Jennifer Grey) resents her older brother getting away with such antics constantly, and tries to rat him out. Despite a few close scrapes, Ferris triumphs.
Is it any good?
It's both a key to FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF's popularity, and a little disquieting, that Ferris never faces any consequences. Even Bart Simpson usually has to take responsibility -- and as for Alfie, there's no indication the filmmakers approve his lifestyle. But Hughes justifies Ferris as a healthy response to self-centered and materialistic adults like Cameron's father. In the end it's poor Cameron who's going to take a fall for the gang, but even he looks forward to the opportunity to defy his (unseen) old man, accused of valuing the Ferrari more than the son. A good question, though, would be whether carefree Ferris will be any better when he grows up. If he grows up.
Back when this premiered in 1986, the clever Bueller was a refreshing change from a too-common movie image of teenage boys as sex- and drug-crazed dolts on the run from mad slashers. John Hughes made his reputation creating quirky young characters with rich inner lives and realistic personal concerns. The flip side of that is that his scripts leaned heavily to what film critics Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel rightly diagnosed as the smart kids/dumb parents syndrome. You don't have to be as bright as Ferris Bueller to see how young viewers would patronize movies that show them as savvy and resourceful, outsmarting uncool authorities, moms, and dads at every turn. Exuberant and stacked hopelessly in favor of its chatty title character, Ferris Bueller's Day Off is both the most enjoyable and the smarmiest of the trend.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how people defy authority. Do your kids understand the difference between Ferris's fantasy presentation and what would really happen if they did what he did?
The filmmakers justify the hero's attitude as a healthy response to self-centered, dumb, and materialistic adults. Do you agree?
A good question would be whether the carefree Ferris is going to be any better when he grows up. If he grows up.