Saturday, March 8, 2014

Just when you think you know a movie....

Okay, you can probably guess the name of this movie:

Of course you can... it's "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."  The 1986 classic coming-of-age film directed by John Hughes.  As you probably know, it's a movie that follows high school senior Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick), who decides to skip school and spend a serendipitous day in downtown Chicago.  Accompanied by is girlfriend Sloane Peterson (Mia Sara) and his sheltered best friend Cameron Frye (Alan Ruck), he creatively avoids his school's Dean of Students Edward R. Rooney (Jeffrey Jones), his resentful sister Jeanie (Jennifer Grey), and of course, his own loving parents.

I LOVE this movie.  It is a personal favorite of mine that I still find myself quoting quite regularly.  It is one those movies that when it is on the television, it HAS to be watched.  A sort of television black hole of required viewing.  From saying the classic lines of "Anyone???  Anyone???" to wishing you were actually cool enough to pull off the "Abe Froman, the Sausage King of Chicago" reservation bit, Ferris Bueller is simply one of the best comedies ever.

Plus, the car... yes the car, it was so "choice."  We must not forget that beauty:

As Cameron quotes, the car was a "1961 Ferrari 250GT California."  Continuing with, "less than a hundred were made.  My father spent three years restoring this car.  It is his love, it is his passion...."  Only to be finished by Ferris who interrupts with, "It is his fault he didn't lock the garage."

Released by Paramount Pictures, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" had a budget of only $5.8 million, but went on to gross more than $70 million at the box office.  The movie was widely accepted then by both audiences and critics alike and it still remains popular today.

Yes, the movie has stood the test of time, but I have a question for you.  What would you say the movie is truly about?  Like me, I bet you have never seen the true point of the whole movie.  I had never caught it before, but a a few nights ago it was revealed crystal clear to me and now I feel like an idiot for not seeing it for all this time.  Is your interest piqued?  Read on.

"Scott, what are you talking about?" Is Ferris Bueller not a movie about a kid thumbing his nose at the "childishness" requirements of high school and the authority in place who make him go.  Is it not a hilarious movie about a high school senior, his girlfriend, and his best buddy who conspire to have a glorious day off from school in order to best the system, to out-duel those in power, all in order to win the day in the end?  Is it not all about a clever kid, albeit a tad spoiled and a wee-bit full of himself one, who is able to pull off the perfect skip day all the time making us all wanting to be more like Ferris?  Yes, it is.  But, I argue the point of the movie has nothing to do with Ferris at all.

Ask yourself, what was Ferris' true goal?  Why did Ferris actually need one more day off, his "ninth sick day" of the semester?

Cue to the 3:49 minute mark of the movie for a clue:  "This is my ninth sick day of the semester.  It's getting pretty tough to come up with new illnesses.  If I go for ten I might have to barf up a lung.  So I better make this one count."

Why is this one so important?  Why did it need to "count"?  If a kid could pull off eight previous days, as it was inferred, why couldn't Ferris just pull off another one?  Why is this one different?  The answer resides in fully looking at the situation.  Ask yourself, who else didn't go to school that day?  Yes, Cameron, Ferris' best buddy "since the fifth grade."  Cameron was home 'sick' too and little did he know that Ferris was about to rescue him in more ways than he could have known.

As it turns out, the movie "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" - beyond all it comedic fun and fluff - is actually a tender hearted hero movie down at its core.  Beyond all the antics, it is a movie about a good friend risking it all (in this case graduating on time) to save his best friend.  In the end, it is a movie about Ferris saving Cameron from himself.

Like all hero movies, there is the protagonist (Ferris), the bad guy (Rooney), the one in need (Cameron), and the heroic victory (Cameron ultimately confronting his unloving father).  And likewise, with most heroic story lines, there needed to be a heroic sacrifice.  In this case, it was... insert a tearful *sniff sniff* here... the car.  Yep, the beautiful, without blemish, 1961 Ferrari became the perfect sacrifice.  As we all know, Cameron ultimately "killed the car" in his state of 'enough is enough' in order to start being seen as a man in his father's eyes.  Yep, the car gave its life so Cameron could stand up and start living his.

Need more evidence. cue to the 1:29 minute 32 second mark of the movie where the 'day off' is coming to a close, the car is dead, and Ferris is saying goodbye to Sloane, his girlfriend:  Sloane: "Do you think Cameron is gonna be okay?"  Ferris:  "Oh yeah... yeah sure.  For the first time in his life... he is gonna be just fine."  (Cue the long pause as Sloane clearly gets the full revelation as to Ferris' true motive for the day off.)  Sloane:  "You knew what you were doing when you woke up this morning, didn't you."  Ferris:  "Me???  Nah."

Still need more proof, cue minute mark 5:23, which is very early in the movie.  We are actually told why Ferris is trying to take the day off.  Again, I just never saw it:  Ferris:  "Cameron this is my ninth sick day.  If I get caught, I won't graduate. I'm not doing this for me, I am doing this for you."  

I know, I know.  "Scott, aren't you spending a wee bit too much time focusing on some old 80's movie?"  Well, maybe, but I ask, did you ever realize it before?  Did you ever notice the soft hearted mission Ferris was on before?  I didn't and I am kinda surprised I have never caught it before.  After all the times I have seen this movie, quoted this movie, recommended this movie, I simply missed it.

The whole movie... all the antics... all the perfection... is just a movie about a guy setting out to rescue his best friend.  "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" in the end has actually nothing to do about Ferris Bueller and everything to do with his buddy Cameron.  The movie isn't about a kid seeking to have fun who ends up helping his buddy.  It is a movie about a kid who seeks to save his friend and uses fun to do it.  Who woulda' thunk?  

So, I guess Ferris was right in the end, "Life moves pretty fast.  If you don't stop and look around once and a while, you could miss it."