Ferris Bueller: Still Looking Good After Twenty-Five Years

Unbelievable as it is, to me anyway, it’s been twenty-five years since “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” hit theaters for the first time. The film, one of John Hughes’ best (in my opinion), features Matthew Broderick as the high school senior who decides to skip school for the day and enjoy some fun with his best friend and his girlfriend, acting on his belief that “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

One of my Facebook friends asked me how many times I’ve seen the movie, and I replied that I thought I had seen it two or three times when it was originally released, and countless times on VHS, DVD, and random showings on cable. My sister is also huge fan, and Jim (though he’s generally not a fan of the 80s teen movies), really likes Ferris too. So it was only right that our Fab Five (me, Jim, D, J, and my sister) went to a special screening of the movie a couple of nights ago, in celebration of its silver anniversary. (Again, TWENTY-FIVE YEARS. YIKES.)

It was JUST AS GOOD as it ever was. One of the best parts for me was that my boys, who are sixteen and nearly nineteen (this Tuesday!) loved it. (They had seen bits and pieces before but never the whole film and, obviously, never on the big screen.)

gal ferrie bueller 03
Photo credit: NYDailyNews.com

What cracks me up is that the movie provokes a Pavlovian Response from me from the very first minute. I get the perma-grin going immediately, and then I laugh at all of the same parts I have always laughed at as if I’m watching for the very first time.

What enhanced my enjoyment this time around was the fact that I recently read a few really good essays about the movie in the book “Don’t You Forget About Me” and I looked at certain parts of the movie in a different way.

One of my favorite scenes, the one in the Art Institute, affects me much more deeply now that I’m an adult and a parent than it ever did in 1986. I found a clip of John Hughes doing some commentary on that scene:

After having spent the last six years on my book, I especially enjoyed being reminded of how far my city has come since 1986. If your vision of Chicago is what it looked like in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, then you need to plan a visit as soon as possible. (And get my book, while you’re at it!) The city is so much more beautiful nowadays, and Millennium Park has taken the place of that icky railyard. Countless new, gorgeous buildings have risen from the ground in the past two decades, and I can’t forget to mention the landscaping improvements, too. (Thanks, Mayor Daley!)

As we watched the movie, I couldn’t help adding up in my head the time it would take for Ferris and Company to get from place to place using public transportation, and wondered if they’d really have time to do all that they did in the span of the schoolday plus a couple hours (um, probably not), but in the end I decided to forget what I know and continue to enjoy the movie for what it is. (Here’s a pretty awesome website that lists the locations used in the movie, if you’re interested.)

Something I recently learned which ties in very nicely to something I’ve got coming up? The scene in which Ferris, Cameron, and Sloane put their foreheads against the windows at the then-Sears Tower (um, which is now the Willis Tower, which, as a proud, native Chicagoan, is a name I personally have a really hard time using but now have to use for a reason I will tell you more about probably next week) actually inspired the conception of “The Ledge”, which I also personally have a really hard time with but may be, for the same reason you’ll be reading about soon, going back on what I said about experiencing it for myself (“No spank you”).

The first sighting of Charlie Sheen in one of his first movie roles (in an eerie cameo as a juvenile delinquent brought into the police station for drugs, a character I imagine to be a younger version of his actual self), inspired a couple of my fellow movie-goers to shout “Winning!” which gave me a good chuckle.

So many classic scenes, so little time: before we knew it, the credits were rolling and Ferris was yelling at us, “You’re still here? It’s over! Go home! GO!” Love, love, love, from beginning to end.

The characters way of speaking directly to the camera, the Chicago-area setting, and the perfect portrayal of teen angst and ingenuity make “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” a true John Hughes classic, one which I’m still not sick of watching, and in fact one which I look forward to watching again very soon.

Twenty-five years? Ferris Bueller wears it well. We should all be so lucky.


  • Heather

    i cannot wait to finally watch this with you. you are going to make me fall in love with 80s movies, aren’t you?

    either way, i am stoked and ready for it!

  • Tara R.

    One of my all time favorite movies. I watch it every time it airs on TV. Seeing it again as an adult on the big screen would be great. Glad you got to share the experience with your boys.