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Ask any high school student about the John Hughes film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and you’ll find that this mid-eighties teeny bopper flick still has kids hooked. Matthew Broderick stars as Ferris, the rebellious teenager from a wealthy suburb of Chicago, who is sick and tired of the monotonous life of public education. Being a charming and handsome young man, Ferris is able to have his way with the ladies, but more instrumental to his revelry is his ability to orchestrate plans for the benefit of all. Whether it be helping a freshman out of summer school, doctoring his attendance record, or faking the identity of Abe Froman (the sausage king of Chicago), Ferris shows the initiative of a true leader.
While Ferris Bueller’s first agenda may be to get out of school, he’s not your average high school lowlife. One of the most impressive parts of Matthew Broderick’s character is that while he is rebellious, he is quite cultured, intelligent, and has a good time. Ferris and his friends visit the Sear’s Tower and the Chicago Museum of Art, catch a game at Wrigley Field and then nosh on pancreas at Chez Luis for lunch. This accentuates the film’s message: life is pointless when it is shackled by a mundane system of routine. Ferris doesn’t skip school to use drugs or party, but rather to have an exciting afternoon in which he would experience events more meaningful than listening to Ben Stein’s character ramble on about ‘voodoo economics.’
The role of Ferris Bueller has been influential in the teenage culture. There’s even a popular ska band named “Save Ferris,” a catch phrase formulated to raise money for Ferris’ mythical kidney transplant. One reason I enjoy the movie so much is because I identify with Ferris, not only because of his personality, but because of the way he tries to make his friends have fun during their stressful adolescence. My peer group is mainly comprised of the fifty seniors who are in the International Baccalaureate program. Because we take six advanced classes and participate in many extracurricular activities, we often find ourselves burnt out from work. In the way Ferris gets his best friend out of bed and his girlfriend out of class, I do my best to organize study groups at the local Starbuck’s or IB gatherings at the AMC movie theatre nearby in an attempt to keep our heads above water and avoid getting ‘senioritis.’ Ferris’ fun loving tactics, while taken to fewer extremes, have still been mimicked years after he left the screen.
On the surface, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is little more than a flick for high school teens who watch Matthew Broderick in admiration of his rebellious behavior. Underneath, it is a film about a complex character who understands that the meaning of life isn’t found while inside the walls of a classroom. Ferris shows to the younger generation that life has value beyond the routine nine-to-five schedule. In the words of an unorthodox leader, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t to stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
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