Many years later, ‘Ferris’ does not age well

If you are an avid reader of this column, you know that I love nostalgia. I grew up in the 1970s (a little) and 1980s (a lot).

When it comes to a good “Throwback Thursday” film, I love a good 1980s flick. Give me John Hughes, and we are good to go, usually.

The other night, I was perusing the free movies on Xfinity OnDemand when I came across Hughes’ megahit “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” The iconic film stars Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck and Mia Sara as three best friends who blow off a day of school to check out Chicago and engage in some shenanigans.

I remember watching “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” in high school and several times in the decades that followed.

I didn’t enjoy the film nearly as much as I remembered.

First of all, how dumb are Ferris’ parents? Katie (Cindy Pickett) and Tom (Lyman Ward) totally fall for it when Ferris (Broderick) fakes his way through an early morning illness, acting as if he has stomach cramps and clammy palms.

Early in the film, Ferris breaks the fourth wall to explain to the audience how he faked his parents out so easily. When the film first came out, I thought it was creative. Watching it many years later, it seems unnecessary and annoying.

Speaking of annoying, Ferris and his schtick does not age well. He begs his buddy Cameron (Ruck) to blow off school for the day because he needs wheels. However, Cameron’s beater is not good enough for Ferris and he convinces him to take out his dad’s prized candy apple red Ferrari.

He and Cameron scam principal Ed Rooney (Jeffrey Jones) to spring Ferris’ girlfriend, Sloane (Sara) out of school for the day. Rooney has no idea who is calling him when Cameron pretends to be Sloane’s father and says that there was a death in the family. Imagine how far caller ID would have gone back then! There’s no way Ferris could have faked the call.

My big beef watching “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” all these years later is that there really aren’t any likable characters. Ferris is a bit of a bully. He forces Cameron to take the car out, acts like a jerk to the host at a fancy Chicago eatery and constantly has to be the center of attention. Cameron, meanwhile, sniffles and coughs his way through the film. We get it — he’s a hypochondriac — but enough already. And Sloane is reduced to a “stand around and look pretty” type of role. But it’s really not her fault. Not much meat on the bone for her.

The parents are imbeciles, Rooney is a jerk and sister Jeanie (Grey) is so jealous of her brother that she acts out at every turn.

As I sat and watched Ferris skip school, have a fancy lunch, hit an art museum, go to a Chicago Cubs’ game and a parade, I could only think that there is no way the timing works. It’s impossible for him to do everything and get home before his parents arrive home from work.

I am usually fine with “check your brain at the door” types of movies, but “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” just irritated me.

Maybe I was just in a bad mood. Maybe I was just not in the mood for Matthew Broderick. Or maybe, just maybe, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” just isn’t a very good film. Or maybe I am just too darn old to enjoy watching a kid skip school.

If you are really into nostalgia, there are a bunch of other Hughes movies that should be higher on your watch list.

Save Ferris… for another day.

“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” is rated PG for adult themes and language. It is available on Xfinity OnDemand, Netflix, Paramount Plus, Prime Video, VUDU, Redbox, ROW8 and Apple TV.

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Chris Morelli is News Editor of The Express.


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