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John Hughes
Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck, Mia Sara
Writing Credits:
John Hughes

A high school student feels determined to have a day off from school, despite a constant threat that an administrator might catch him.

Box Office:
$5 million.
Opening Weekend:
$6,275,647 on 1330 screens.
Domestic Gross:

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Spanish Monaural
French Dolby Surround 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 102 min.
Price: $9.99
Release Date: 5/5/2009

• “Getting the Class Together” Featurette
• “The Making of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” Featurette
• “Who Is Ferris Bueller?” Featurette
• “The World According to Ben Stein” Featurette
• “Vintage Ferris Bueller: Lost Tapes”
• “Class Album” Photo Gallery


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-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Ferris Bueller's Day Off [Blu-Ray] (1986)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 4, 2009)

Since I went through my teens in the 1980s, I experienced the popular success of John Hughes firsthand. With efforts like Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club, he defined teen movies for an entire generation.

And then he vanished! Hughes last directed a film in 1991 when he made the abysmal Curly Sue. He wrote and produced up until his death in 2009, but he didn't work as a director over the last 18 years of his life.

Hughes wrapped up his teen efforts even earlier, as 1986’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off served as his final look at the high school set. With the following year’s Planes, Trains and Automobiles, he addressed a more adult crowd, and that trend continued with 1988’s She’s Having a Baby.

At least Hughes ended his string of teen flicks on top. Ferris made more money than any of his other films, and it also remains probably the most popular of Hughes’ efforts.

The movie introduces us to an extremely popular high school student named Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick). Confronted with a beautiful spring day, Ferris decides he can’t face the prospect of wasting it in school.

He fakes an illness and gets his parents’ permission to stay home. He convinces his buddy Cameron (Alan Ruck) – who’s actually sick – to come over and he frees his girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara) from school so the three of them can have some fun.

This doesn’t come without complications, though. Dean of Students Ed Rooney (Jeffrey Jones) suspects that Ferris is faking it, and he makes it his mission to expose the kid’s charade. Ferris’s sister Jeanie (Jennifer Grey) resents the way that her sibling gets away with whatever he wants, so she also acts to sabotage her brother’s day of fun. The movie follows these threads and other problems.

If forced to pick the main problem with this film, I’d focus on Ferris himself, though I mean no offense to Broderick, who I think does fine in the role. However, as written and depicted, Ferris is annoying, and I can totally understand why he grates on his sister.

Smug and arrogant, Ferris gets what he wants because he bullies everyone else. He batters poor Cameron until he leaves his sickbed, and he rarely proves to be sympathetic.

Defenders of Ferris likely will note his positive effect on those around him. After all, doesn’t he ultimately help Cameron confront his demons and become more self-realized?

Sure, but that doesn’t mean I have to agree with the methods. Ferris strikes me as selfish and narcissistic.

That said, the movie does deliver a good message, as it reminds us that life is short so we should grab the gusto while we can and all sorts of other cliches. Again, all that is fine, but I don’t care for the execution of the theme. I see Ferris as a cartoon version of the smooth kid who has it all, but he remains an annoying caricature.

And it is possible to pull off this kind of character. After all, Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop manages to manipulate situations to his advantage all the time, and we love him for it. The difference is that a) Axel isn’t a smug, spoiled rich kid, and b) Axel uses his intelligence while Ferris just acts pushy.

Maybe I’m griping too much about the main character, but given how he dominates the film, his nature causes problems for me. Ferris’s personality doesn’t ruin the film, but he makes it more difficult to take, especially when everything gets tied up so neat and nice at the end.

His sister all of a sudden has a change of heart? It seems tough to accept that one rough make-out session with Charlie Sheen would undo years of antagonism and jealousy.

But I suppose I’m investing too much of an expectation of realism. As I noted, Ferris essentially exists as a cartoon, and it provides a reasonably entertaining one.

However, I do find it tough to get past the flick’s heavy mid-80s vibe. I understand that most films bear mark of the era in which they were made, but Ferris carries that burden more intensely. From the music to the fashions to the basic filmmaking, this flick screams “1986”, and that doesn’t make it more charming.

All told, Ferris has its moments, and I’m sure it works better for folks who can more closely identify with their high school days. Not that I think I loved it back when I was only one year into college, so maybe that’s not the case. The film has many adherents, but I must admit that its charms largely escape me.

The Disc Grades: Picture C+/Audio B/ Bonus B-

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Despite some artifacts from its era, the movie usually looked fairly positive.

Sharpness generally seemed quite good. A few interiors came across as a smidgen soft, but those instances were rare and insubstantial. The majority of the film boasted solid clarity and delineation. I noticed no issues with jagged edges, moiré effects or edge haloes.

Source flaws were the main distraction here, though they remained semi-modest. Throughout the film, I noticed occasional instances of specks, marks and small blotches. These were infrequent but they created some distractions. Grain was within acceptable levels for a film of this one’s vintage.

Colors were usually pretty lively. Interiors seemed slightly flat, but they came across acceptably well, and exteriors boasted vivacious hues. Take the parade sequence, for instance, as it offered tones that appeared quite dynamic.

Blacks were dark and tight, and shadows looked fairly concise. Low-light shots could be a tad dense, but they showed better definition than I expected. This was a decent transfer that could use an upgrade.

Although nothing mind-blowing, the movie's Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundfield was fairly involving and engaging. The forward spectrum dominated and showed some decent stereo imaging. The music spread cleanly across the front speakers, and I also heard occasional use of discrete effects. These panned relatively well across the channels, and the forward audio seemed cleanly integrated.

The surrounds contributed some solid sound as well. None of the effects from the surrounds were terribly impressive, but they seemed good for this kind of movie. Mostly it was the film’s music that was reinforced in the rear.

Clearly the soundfield didn’t compete with something from a more recent action spectacular, but I thought it seemed pretty good nonetheless, and it added a fine sense of place and involvement to the package.

Also positive was the quality of the audio. Speech appeared distinct and natural, with no issues related to intelligibility or edginess. Effects were clean and realistic and showed no signs of distortion.

The music seemed clear and bright and displayed good low-end. As a whole, the track lacked much deep bass, but I found the dynamics to seem fairly satisfying, with most of the low-end stemming from the flick’s pop songs. The soundtrack of Ferris worked well for the film it served.

How did the picture and sound of this Blu-ray compare with those of the 2006 Special Edition DVD? I think both provide similar audio, though the lossless TrueHD mix showed a bit more oomph.

Visuals boast a step up in quality. I suspect that the Blu-ray offers the same transfer as the prior DVD, but it comes across as noticeably sharper, brighter, and better defined here. As noted, the movie needs a new transfer, but at least the Blu-ray upgrades the DVD.

The Blu-ray repeats all of the extras from the 2006 special edition – and it continues to omit the John Hughes commentary found on the original 1999 DVD. That was a good track that rematerialized on a 2008 I Love the ‘80s release of Ferris.

Looking at what we do find, we open with Getting the Class Together: The Cast of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. This featurette runs 27 minutes, 44 seconds as it brings notes from casting directors Jane Jenkins and Janet Hirshenson, actors Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck, Mia Sara (from 1986), Jennifer Grey (from 1985 and today), Lyman Ward, Cindy Pickett, Jeffrey Jones, Edie McClurg, Ben Stein, Richard Edson, Kristy Swanson, and Jonathan Schmock, and director John Hughes (from 1986).

“Class” looks at how the various actors got their roles, aspects of their characters, and experiences during the shoot. It moves briskly and covers its subject well. I’m happy to see Broderick and most of the other main actors here, and I like that we learn a little about the smaller parts as well. This turns out to be a fun piece.

For the next featurette, we find The Making of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. It goes for 15 minutes, 28 seconds and features remarks from Stein, Broderick, Jones, Hughes (from 1986), McClurg, Ruck, Grey, and producer Tom Jacobson.

We find out how quickly Hughes tossed off the script, Hughes’ direction and other aspects of the filming, editing, the film’s 1961 Ferrari, the parade sequence, and reactions to the flick.

“Making” doesn’t provide a concise, beginning-to-end look at the film’s creation. However, it does give us a nice impression of the flick. We get a mix of good details and a few fine insights. I especially like McClurg’s comments about her work with Jones. All that and plenty of archival shots that show Hughes’ absurd 1986 mullet!

In Who Is Ferris Bueller?, we get a nine-minute, 12-second featurette. We hear from Hughes (in 1987), Jones (in 1985), Broderick (in 1986 and 2006), Grey, Jones, Ruck, Pickett, Stein, and Sara (in 1986). The show discusses the Ferris character as well as Broderick. A few decent notes about both elements appear, but mostly we find a lot of praise and fluff.

A take on one of the movie’s more popular supporting actors comes from The World According to Ben Stein. This piece fills 10 minutes, 51 seconds as it offers details from Stein.

He chats about his life and career as well as reflections on Ferris. How many featurettes include the phrase “self-pitying bipeds”? Stein gives us that and also compares Ferris to Jesus. Add to that a few nice insights and some fun stories to get a solid little clip.

After this we find Vintage Ferris Bueller: Lost Tapes, a featurette that lasts 10 minutes, 15 seconds. “Lost” provides comments from the movie set, where we hear from Broderick, Jones, Ruck and Sara.

They chat about the shoot, the story and the characters. These can be fun, and we also get to see a short deleted clip. Obviously “Lost” lacks the perspective of modern comments, but it makes up for that in immediacy.

A photo collection called Class Album appears next. It presents 18 posed publicity stills that feature actors Broderick, Ruck and Sara. It’s not very interesting.

Perhaps the fact I’m not wild about Ferris Bueller’s Day Off makes me a traitor to my generation, and the film certainly has maintained a big audience over the last 35 years. I just never really enjoyed it, as I find it to provide sporadic entertainment and not much more. The Blu-ray features decent picture and pretty positive audio along with a generally interesting and informative package of supplements, though the absence of the original DVD’s audio commentary continues to annoy. The Blu-ray could use an upgrade but seems acceptable overall.

To rate this film visit the DVD review of FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF

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