Originally hitting theatres in 1986, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off has become an absolute playground for coming-of-age films and cinema more broadly. The Big Lebowski, Home Alone, Deadpool, Easy A, Spiderman: Homecoming, Booksmart and Soul all make intertextual references to the 80’s cultural giant. Joe Keery even starred in a Dominoes ad, parodying the most iconic moments. The film follows Ferris and friends as they skip school on a clear summers’ day, galavanting around Chicago, engaging in various happy hijinks.
The first ten minutes is particularly effective in setting the overall tone. Hughes utilises music and dialogue in such a cheeky and fun way to characterise Ferris, Cameron and the monotonous world of the American suburbs and high school. Upon rewatching, the tone is especially silly, but executed with a great reverence for different film techniques. The performances turned in from the teens are still pretty impressive. Unlike the roles he filled throughout the rest of his career (live action Inspector Gadget anyone?), Matthew Broderick kicks up some charisma to turn in a really charming performance. The fourth wall breaking still feels fun, and is a good refresher about how that, sometimes trite, approach can work well.
In the years since John Hughes’ decade long run, Ferris Bueller holds up the best. It keeps innocence and fun at the forefront, even when it dips into more grounded, serious moments. It’s a great example of how good coming-of-age films can be, and reminds audiences that genre is not an excuse for laziness.