December 20, 2013

Movie : Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

Filed under: Movies — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 12:41 pm

imageWatching an old movie much later can have an issue. What seems funny and conventional then looks insipid and juvenile about seventeen years later. Some movies, though, transcend time and you can still watch it after a long while and be enthralled. Unfortunately, this movie is definitely not one of them.

It feels and looks something like the comedy attempted in Home Alone. There is no child here but the teenager, Ferris, around whom the story is centred has a mental age of a ten year old child. The principal who tries to track him with a single minded obsession to catch him in the act definitely reminds you of the clownish thieves who try to enter the house in the Home Alone movie. And as stupid and irritating.

There are some unexpected actors you meet, which makes you raise your eyebrows and say  ‘What? Is this really this actor?’ All of them are cameos. First, there is Ben Stein of the TV show who shows up as an economics teacher. Then, towards the end, we have Charlie Sheen showing up.

The story is stupid but this. Ferris feigns illness to bunk school for a day with two friends – one of them his girlfriend who has a single expression throughout the movie – amused admiration for his ingenuity. He has technical wizardry to fool any peeping parents to see him ‘sleeping’ or visitors who may come looking. But does he go quietly to enjoy the day? No, he makes himself as conspicuous as possible, and his friends nod saying that due to phenomenal luck, he will not be caught, even if caught on TV singing on a platform and the whole city sees him.

The movie is old and it shows. There is some equipment that kids today would not even recognize. For example, if you saw the movie, did you look at the computer in Principal’s office? Monochrome screen and as ugly as it can get in looks. Even  I almost forgot what computers used to look like in the eighties! And the long dot matrix printout that the school officials are looking at? How many people will even know what the hell that is? Scanning through a printed report of hundreds of pages to look for information.

Have I mentioned that the story is insipid? The Ferris Bueller role is played terribly with horrible intonation by Mathew Broderick. The gags are so juvenile that you are irritated rather than amused.

Also Ferris is not even a genius planner. He goes wherever and cavorts in front of the principal in thin disguise but no one catches him. Don’t even get me started on the principal. He is home-invading during school hours to catch Ferris in his lies and gets knocked down by the sister of Ferris, another whiny character played by Jennifer Grey to boredom. Maybe because the whole city is populated by imbeciles, Ferris can get away with what he does. That kind of makes sense!

It is supposed to be funny. The only character who looks like he is even trying to play the role assigned to him is Alan Ruck, who plays Cameron, the best friend of Ferris.

It is a series of what seems to be clever tricks. A dummy with chest moving to fool the doting mother of Ferris that he is in bed when he is out having fun. A Porche borrowed by Cameron from his dad without his dad’s knowledge, a recorded message for any doorbells asking them to go away because Ferris is sick and so on. And after they have all recovered without much damage to egos or persons, for no reason at all, the car gets trashed and Cameron decides to ‘man up’. Whatever.

Stupid comedy, if you do not have the patience for it. I did not. Let us say 2/10


–        – Krishna







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