Some of you may remember a blog I wrote a year and a half ago promoting “Saving Ferris,” my latest YouTube documentary about the Chicago locations of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”
To make my documentary I visited almost all of the film’s locations in Chicago and the northern suburbs of Chicago where it was originally shot. In the film I talk about where and what the locations actually are and how they have changed in the last few decades. I also try to recapture the experience of the movie. I go to a Cubs game, drive a Ferrari replica down Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive, and even get on a float at the Von Steuben Day Parade, the same parade in the film where Ferris sang “Danke Schoen” and “Twist and Shout.”
This week celebrates the 30th anniversary of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” the wonderful John Hughes film about three high schoolers who ditch a day of school to go spend the perfect day in Chicago. This summer the film is being shown in parks and on rooftops all over Chicago. There was even a Ferris Bueller festival a few weeks ago in Lake Forest, Illinois. All of a sudden everyone in Chicago is acting like they are as big a Ferris Bueller fan as me!
Why is everyone so gaga about a 30-year-old movie? Why did I love this movie so much that I spent years making a documentary about it? Why was it the go-to movie for my parents to put on when one of their kids was sick?
I believe there are several reasons for this love of Ferris. First, the film is a comedic masterpiece. A brilliant cast starring Matthew Broderick, Jennifer Grey, Mia Sara and Alan Ruck, along with a classic drugged-out Charlie Sheen, can literally make me laugh out loud—not too many films are capable of that. I can still envision my childhood friend John and I rewinding my parents’ VCR to watch the same scenes over and over again. One of our favorites was the scene where Ferris’s sister Genie karate kicks Mr. Rooney in the face three times. We must have watched that scene 20 times in one sitting when we we were 9. I must also say that as an 8- or 9-year old seeing the movie for the first time its lovely medley of swear words made the jokes extra amazing. Childhood movie watching experiences have produced special bonds for me to classics like Ferris Bueller. When I watch comedies such as “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “Blues Brothers,” or “Stripes” it almost feels like I’m visiting an old friend.
Many Ferris fans group the film with some of the other John Hughes 1980s classics that also take place in Chicago’s north suburbs—the so-called “Brat Pack” movies such as “16 Candles,” “Pretty in Pink” and “The Breakfast Club.” Those films deal with the difficulties faced by middle-class Generation X teens. Many critics say that the protagonist of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” is not Ferris but instead Ferris’s best friend, Cameron Frye, a depressed teen with abusive parents who is jealous of Ferris’s easier life and enamored of Sloan, Ferris’s sexy girlfriend. While this coming-of-age theme ties “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” together in the end, I don’t believe it is the reason that so many people love watching the film.
We love watching “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” because the film gives us the chance to relive Ferris’s fantasy day. We get to imagine what life would be like if we could be a high school kid again but have everything go exactly how we wanted it to go for one day. We get to feel the fun and adrenaline rush of ditching school and stealing a Ferrari from your friend’s mean parents. Then we get the experience of going around an amazing city with our best friend and girlfriend, visiting three times the amount of fun places that a person could possibly go to in a single day! That wonderful day never gets old.
Question: What movies have you watched over and over again?
Watch the entire “Saving Ferris” documentary on Noah Graff’s YouTube Channel: