can one person sustain a
career on pure boyish charm? Matthew Broderick, who has gone
teen idol to King of Broadway, has been doing it ever since WARGAMES in
1984. FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF was Broderick's breakthrough
and despite a great supporting cast, Broderick is this movie, and it is
hard to imagine FERRIS BUELLER having any similar impact without him.
Whereas the films John Hughes made with Molly Ringwald were about teen angst, FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF is about the fun of being a teen. Young Ferris has a yen to spend at least one day doing something else besides going to school, and he convinces his girlfriend (Mia Sara) and his uptight chum (Alan Ruck) into joining him. His adventures are sometimes mundane - going to a ballgame, having lunch in a fancy restaurant - but what matters is that Ferris is enjoying life to the fullest, and trying to make sure his pals enjoy it too because it goes by so fast. His running commentary, directed at us throughout the film, never feels like a cheap gimmick because Broderick is so convincing and likable in the role, he feels like a personal friend. Jeffrey Jones, as asinine principal Ed Rooney, is the perfect foil for Broderick's teen hero, and Ben Stein has a small but instantly classic turn as an dull-as-toast Economics teacher ("Anyone?... Anyone?").
Along with fully establishing Broderick as a movie star, FBDO also put the Beatles "Twist and Shout" back on the charts in 1986, which was fine by me. ½ - JB
FRIENDS FOREVER: In the short-lived 1990 television version of FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF, a pre-Friends Jennifer Aniston played the role of Ferris's sister.