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Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> November 1999 >> Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Movie Commentary by Scott Ventura


Scott's Rating:
5 / 5
Times Seen:
Viewing Date:
November 1999
IMDB Name:
Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
John Hughes
MPAA Rating:

The Legacy

Ferris Bueller's Day Off is one of the most successful teen movies ever. Its box office take doesn't seem so big anymore, but I don't think any other can compare for memorable characters or repeat watchability. It's certainly been one of Matthew Broderick's most famous roles, causing everyone who writes about movies to point out the irony that one of the most famous bad students should be reincarnated as a three-time Teacher of the Year in Election. The movie also spawned two TV series in 1990, "Ferris Bueller" and "Parker Lewis Can't Lose". I was partial to the second, personally, but I just noticed that the first had Jennifer Aniston in the cast!

Joyful Swagger

Sometimes, a movie is really sure of its material. Is it possible for an entire movie to swagger? I love the confidence of showing Edie McClurg pull three pencils out of her hair. I love the nonchalance with which Ferris directly addresses the camera. I love the made-for-TV feel of Cindy Pickett and Lyman Ward as Ferris's parents. I love seeing Ben Stein bringing his trademark deadpan to the classroom as students teeter on the brink of sleep in a scene that is loaded with inspired near-still shots of students who are absolutely not comprehending a word. I love the flawless way that Kristy Swanson rattles off the latest news in class. And I absolutely adore the way Jeffrey Jones, the Emperor in Amadeus, plays Ed Rooney as the ludicrously egotistical principal.

Part of the appeal of the movie is almost like the old Warner Brothers cartoons of yore. Bugs Bunny was beloved not because he was nice, but because he was crass and rude. He also had the cartoon-imbued power to do the impossible. Ferris is the same way. He approaches getting out of school as his right and gleefully steps on some toes on the way. He manages to get both of the people out to get him into infinitely more trouble than he gets into himself.


I realize that this is sacrilege, but I must. At least I won't criticize the impossible amount of travel that Ferris accomplishes in a single day.

DVD Comments

The main attraction of the DVD is the John Hughes commentary track. Hughes speaks with a deep, somber tone slightly reminiscent of Harold Ramis as he discusses locations, motivations, a few technical details, music choices, some deleted scenes, and his personal disappointments with certain moments. Unlike director commentaries that stop at the beginning of the credits, Hughes goes right up to the last second, and almost sounds like he isn't finished when the movie ends. I begrudge the disc for not including the a trailer or the deleted scenes, both mentioned in the commentary. Since the original trailer was never seen in theaters, it would be a particularly interesting thing to have.

The movie is available with French 2.0, English 2.0, and English 5.1 audio. English subtitles are also provided, but they have some peculiarities. At one point screeching tires are subtitled "[Brakes Screech]". The far worse offense, though, occurs when Ferris and company are at the baseball game. Cameron's "can't hit, he can't hit, he can't hit, he can't hit" is transcribed "Kennedy, Kennedy, Kennedy, Kennedy". Actually, the French dub sounds just like "Kennedy, Kennedy, Kennedy, Kennedy", making me wonder if the English subtitles were used as the source text for the translation. I strongly recommend listening to parts of the movie in French, especially if you don't know any French. The scenes with Ed and Grace and the section in the ballpark play even funnier that way.

For having very little content to work with, the menu designers achieved a surprising number of interface flaws. The director commentary is under "special feature" instead of bundled with the other audio choices in the set up. The menus have a slightly Mondrian feel to them with items arrayed somewhat haphazardly. That's not so bad, but the theme is carried into the scene selection menus. The four scenes on the screen are arranged top, bottom, left, and right, with the page-to-page navigation at the center. The problem here is the inconsistency of movement across the center. To get from the left to the right by way of wrapping around takes one button push, by way of the top or bottom frame takes two, and through the center takes five. But if you go back from the right to the left through the center, you only need three buttons. There are similar incongruities going from top to bottom and vice versa. At least the selector is always clear!

See the IMDB information on Ferris Bueller's Day Off's DVD or compare prices at DVD Price Search.

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Copyright 1999-2001 by Scott Ventura. All rights reserved.