October 18, 2014

WATCH ME IF YOU CAN | Why Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is the Best High School Film

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By MARINA CAITLIN WATTS

In Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, John Hughes offers everything to make it a cinematic masterpiece: Comedy, romance, an awesome 80s soundtrack and even a cameo of Charlie Sheen playing a drug addict (oh, the irony).  Aside from the fact that it is a cult classic, it stands the test of time as well, since so many people are fluent with the movie and its quirks. It has been ranked 10 on Entertainment Weekly’s 2006 list of the top 50 High School Movies, but it is indeed the best, and here’s why:

Glamourizing skipping school.  I’m not going to sugarcoat it.  There is nothing wrong with taking a day off for a romp through the city.  I’ve done it myself a few times and it is quite the wonderful experience. Do it. Do it, now.

Being fearless.  How many people would take someone else’s reservation at a high end restaurant, steal their best friend’s father’s Ferrari and hop on a float to perform during the German Day Parade? Ferris Bueller is able to see how profound reality is, and is able to live in the moment while keeping the future in mind. He reflects on how important it is to not take the time he does have with his friends for granted. Who wouldn’t want to be him?

Ferris Bueller is what we all should strive to be, today and 20 years from now. He encompasses traits that every kid wants: getting away with everything, being care-free, driving a Ferrari… He’s someone we should all look up to, even if we can’t be him. His actions are brazen, yes, and he challenges authority too regularly.  Isn’t that what experience is all about, anyway? If we don’t take chances now and learn from them, we will be stuck on a piece of wood floating in an ocean full of missed opportunities (and don’t get me started on missed opportunities with floating wood in 90s movies … Jack seriously could have fit. Come. On.)

The great life lessons it offers. Viewers take away the best advice from the film. Live your life to the fullest, even if it means breaking a few rules. Too many films nowadays involving high school are laced with drinking and the excessive need to get laid. Bueller focuses on the mindset that you really should have in high school, along with your entire life.

The most important thing we learn from Ferris throughout Hughes’ film? Not that teen angst sucks, or driving in reverse won’t take miles off of a Ferrari. “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

The importance of living in the moment. Talks had gone on about making a sequel to the film, but it was so perfect that it didn’t need anything more to it. The fact that it is about an exact place and time meant that viewers would want to revisit that moment, which we all should do. On a side note, Hughes wrote the script for this film in six days.  And quite a few memorable moments from the film were improvised, like Matthew Broderick playing the clarinet, or Ed’s secretary Grace imitating him on the phone. How’s that for supremely candid?

The soundtrack. Upon the film’s release, Hughes was hesitant to release a soundtrack album. He felt it was all too eclectic and wouldn’t work well. All the music in the film was newer than not, this way the film in all aspects would feel new. Unfortunately, the only way to bring this fantastic music together is to do your homework, find the soundtrack and individually find the song. Then you can run home to “March of the Swivelheads,” or eat Oreos in your hot tub with the proper background music.

This iconic film should be on every DVD shelf of anyone who has ever been in high school, college, or just simply appreciating being alive.

Marina Caitlin Watts is a junior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She may be reached at mcw236@cornell.edu. Watch Me If You Can appears alternate Fridays.