"Ferris Bueller's Day Off" Blu-ray Review
May 07, 2009 by Zach Demeter
The John Hughes classic Ferris Bueller’s Day Off has long since entertained viewers of the 1980s and early 1990s. While it was a late 80s product, the film itself really doesn’t feel all that dated; visually, yes, but the writing and humor in it is almost timeless and the directing and perpetual breaking of the fourth-wall still remains fresh and exciting to this day. The film would propel its cast into stardom (and further stardom, in some cases) and perhaps typecast them a bit along the way, but the pure enjoyment one gets from watching this film is unparalleled.
Ferris Bueller. Larger than life. Blessed with a magical sense of serendipity. He's a model for all those who take themselves too seriously. A guy who knows the value of a day off. Ferris Bueller's Day Off chronicles the events in the day of a rather magical young man, Ferris (Mathew Broderick). One spring day, toward the end of his senior year, Ferris gives into an overwhelming urge to cut school and head for downtown Chicago with his girl (Mia Sara) and his best friend (Alan Ruck), to see the sights, experience a day of freedom and show that with a little ingenuity, a bit of courage and a red Ferrari, life at 17 can be a joy!
I’d really had no idea what to expect from the film when I first watched it, although I’d heard nothing but good things. Discovering it was a John Hughes film that immediately followed Weird Science was even more exciting to me, as I’ve only recently discovered the brilliance of his writing. While it’s not so easy to relate these teen-based comedies to the modern world nowadays, there’s still a timeless feeling about them…mainly just because they’re so much fun to watch. Usually I can never get into the “classics” as I simply wasn’t alive during their time period to really get the references, but there’s nothing in Bueller that dates it to the point where the jokes don’t work or the humor feels dated.
While it certainly isn’t my favorite comedy of all time, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is really just entertaining purely because of how simple of a concept it is. Skipping out on school, pulling one over on your parents and thoroughly angering the jerk of a principal at your school are universal themes (for the most part…I was home schooled so two of those are not applicable to me…but still) and just the overall sense of freedom one gets while watching this film is unbelievable. Carefree, airy, light…whatever you want to use to describe it, Ferris Bueller is just fun to watch.
There were some elements that took getting used to such as the constant talking to the audience, but once you adjusted to that concept the whole film fell into place. The way Broderick slipped in and out of that fourth wall was fantastic, as it felt as if it honestly had no impact on the characters around him. They simple carry on in the background and await Bueller’s further input, all the while he chatters on to the audience. Maybe it was later copied in a ton of 80s and 90s movies that I’ve never seen, but for all of the “fourth wall” shattering moments I’d seen in the past, I’ve never seen one done so superbly as this film.
The cast also deserves a mention, as not only did Broderick did the aforementioned fantastic job, but Alan Ruck and Mia Sara both performed beautifully as the sides to Bueller’s outgoing personality. Ruck’s constant fretting of the Ferrari and the worry of what his father will say is constantly entertaining and Sara’s subtle performance manages to resonate even in the smallest of ways. Then there’s the supporting cast of Jeffrey Jones, Jennifer Grey, Cindy Pickett, and Lyman Ward as the principal and Bueller’s family. On top of that you have the role Ben Stein may be most famous for and Charlie Sheen in a random, strange and hilarious brief role as the “bad” boy in the police station.
You may be reading all of this and going “yeah, I know this movie is awesome. It’s also over twenty years old.” While, yes, film is ancient by today’s standards, I was really just blown away by how great it was. Having never seen it until just a few days ago, I was truly amazed at not only the subject matter it covered but also just how damn fun it was. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off will, without a doubt, join the pile of comedies in my collection and be something I visit may times in the future. Highly Recommended.
Paramount’s Blu-ray treatment of this film is similar to their other releases: single disc Elite case with the grey wash art coating the disc and a simple and enjoyable menu system. This is the same as the “Bueller...Bueller...Edition” DVD release from a few years back and sports all the same extras, with nothing new (and nothing in high-definition). The film itself boasts a solid AVC encoded 1080p transfer that manages to impress from a distance, but once you creep on it a bit the image gets a tad flat. Having said that, it does look pretty great for a film that’s older than I am and I cannot believe how clean and clear it looks at times. There is a small amount of color flickering that goes on in some cases, but for the most part it’s a nice looking transfer all around.
The same, however, cannot be said for the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track. It was wildly uneven to me, as I had to turn it way up to hear the dialogue clearly and then whenever a sound effect would kick in, it’d sound incredibly loud. This isn’t really a problem as even at that level, the dialogue, sound effects, et. al sound crystal clear…it’s just the levels are very uneven. Also included are DD2.0 and Mono tracks, as well as English SDH, English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish subtitles.
Moving onto the extras we don’t get any commentary (damn you John Hughes! Come out of hiding already.), but we do, as previously mentioned, get everything from the “Bueller…Bueller…” edition. Included in that collection is:
Getting the Class Together (27:45)
The Making Of (15:29)
Who is Ferris Bueller? (9:12)
The World According to Ben Stein (10:51)
Vintage Ferris Bueller: The Lost Tapes (10:16)
All are well worth checking out as the original cast returns to talk about the film and vintage interviews with Hughes are included as well. Overall a solid edition and a film well worth owning, although if you own the previous DVD edition the Blu-ray visuals and audio (as uneven as it is) may not be worth upgrading; whatever the case, however, this release is Recommended.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is now available on Blu-ray.