John Hughes’s love letter to Chicago, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, celebrated its 35th anniversary since being released in theaters in 1986.
“Life movies by pretty fast. If you don’t stop to look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller
Thirty-five years since the theatrical release, the film remains a frequent source of quotes. Hard to believe as it may be but Hughes wrote the script in a week. Most people take a few weeks to draft a script but not Hughes. The standard comedy tends to run about ninety minutes. The first cut of this film? Almost three hours long! The final cut runs just a bit over an hour and forty minutes. This also speaks to the talents of Oscar-winning film editor Paul Hirsch. Hirsch would show why he’s an Oscar winner when the test screenings weren’t working. Originally, the Art Institute was after the parade and so audiences weren’t responding that well.
Do I really have to rehash the plot? No, not really. All anyone needs to know is that Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) takes a day off of school with girlfriend Sloane Peterson (Mia Sara) and best friend Cameron Frye (Alan Ruck). Hughes places so many gags into the script at the expense of Dean Ed Rooney (Jeffrey Jones). Ferris also breaks the fourth wall throughout the film, too. But again, there is no need to rehash the film. This isn’t a Marvel film but please make sure to stick around for the credits. Nothing like a post-credits scene!
One one level, the film may be about a trio of high school students taking a day off and having fun. But on an entirely different level, this is filmmaker John Hughes making a love letter to Chicago. “I really wanted to capture as much of Chicago as I could, not just in the architecture and landscape but the spirit,” Hughes said on the director’s commentary.
It certainly is a love letter. You have all the major landmarks appearing on screen. Major attractions include the Art Institute of Chicago, Sears Tower, Chicago Mercantile Exchange, and Wrigley Field. For what it’s worth, none of the major improv theaters make an appearance. However, legendary improv instructor Del Close appears on screen as the English teacher. Throughout all of this, Hughes gives us one of the best on-screen set pieces with a medley of songs performed during the Von Steuben Day parade. You haven’t experienced “Twist and Shout” until watching Ferris Bueller’s Day Off during Chicago’s Millennium Park Summer Film Series. There’s nothing like seeing an audience spontaneously performing the twist!
It’s funny though. I had heard of Ferris Bueller’s for a number of years but it wasn’t until 2009 when I first sat down to watch the film. However, it would not be until the release of Easy A in which I decided to binge through the seminal high school films of the 1980s. What a ride that was–Not Another Teen Movie finally made sense with all of the John Hughes references!
Earlier this year, the film was released on Blu-ray as a part of the John Hughes 5-Movie Collection. Most recently, a 35th anniversary limited edition Blu-ray Steelbook was released. I’m not reviewing off of the limited edition Blu-ray but I can tell you that the bonus content is the same. Unfortunately, the director’s commentary does not appear on the Steelbook edition.
Thirty-five years later, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off remains a treat and quite the Chicago love letter.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: John Hughes
CAST: Matthew Broderick, Mia Sara, Alan Ruck