Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 2/10/00
1986 (1999) - Paramount
review by Brad Pilcher of
The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras):
Specs and Features
102 mins, PG-13, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced,
single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, audio
commentary (with director John Hughes), film-themed menu screens,
scene access (14 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 & 2.0)
and French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned
"I asked for a
car, I got a computer. How's that for being born under a bad sign?"
John Hughes, a writer/director who kicked teen angst flicks up
another notch in the 80's with flicks like The
Breakfast Club and Weird
Science, logged one more classic with
Ferris Bueller's Day Off. The
story follows the popular, and cocky, Ferris (played to smug
perfection by Matthew Broderick) as he skips school, emancipates his
girlfriend from said school, torments his principal, grabs his best
friend and takes a day-long joyride in a 1961 Ferrari. High school
never got this good for most of us, which is probably why this film
remains such a classic today.
As far as "films" go, this one isn't that spectacular. A
strong beginning, featuring witty asides to the audience, and an
action packed ending only moderately make up for what turns out to
be a weak middle. Many of the subtle jokes just don't deliver. To be
honest though, there are two major high points in there, with the
parade scene and again with the amusing antics of Principal Rooney
(hilariously portrayed by Jeffrey Jones) trying to break into
Bueller's house. The problem is, Hughes seems to let the script get
a bit too disjointed. If you listen to the audio commentary, you'll
quickly see just how much of the film was ad libbed during shooting.
This usually brings up some of the funnier, more natural bits, but
it also causes the overall tightness of the early and later scenes
to come a bit unwoven. Despite these shortcomings, the film comes
together nicely, powered mainly by the top-notch performances of
Broderick, Jones and Alan Ruck, who plays Ferris' socially anemic
best friend Cameron.
Still, here it is on DVD, almost 15 years later and the film still
holds up. Maybe it's because of the enduring archetypes of high
school and how adults relate to kids, or maybe it's just an easy to
digest story with some snappy dialogue. Either way, Ferris comes
through in his typical style and we love him for it.
In terms of quality, the video transfer is nice. It really benefits
from the anamorphic treatment, and while there are no explosions to
blow you away, the subtle things are really bolstered. For example,
skip to the parade scene and check out the vibrancy and sharpness of
the crowd and colored balloons - looks nice, doesn't it? There are
no major artifacts to be found, but then again, the visual material
doesn't really demand too much. Speaking of that parade scene, the
sound is really flexed here. While the sound comes out a bit flat
overall in some areas, it does bring the atmosphere of the film to
life. Broderick's musical performance on a parade float is really
brought to new heights with this DVD.
Where the disc falls flat is on the extras front (which isn't too
surprising coming from Paramount). While the rare and welcomed
commentary from Hughes is solid and very insightful, the disc boasts
nothing more. No theatrical trailer. No cast or crew bios. Only a
very basic, if effective, menu system rounds out the package. Those
are very slim pickings indeed. However, the commentary does a good
bit to save the day. While Hughes is not exactly the liveliest
fellow on the planet, his comments are incredibly perceptive. You
get the distinct feeling that, all these years later, Hughes is
still very much aware of his work, even if he does take it a bit
seriously. You really come away with an appreciation for how much
Hughes brought his own history to the film. Another major plus with
the commentary is how it points out the crew cameos -- check out the
dramatic use of Hughes' hand throughout the film.
All around, this disc is worth having just because of what it is.
Any fan of this film (or Hughes' work in general) will love owning
this DVD, and will appreciate the overall presentation quality. The
extras are anemic, but the commentary from Hughes is of good
quality, and brings a great deal of insight to a film that wouldn't
normally get too much thought. We wouldn't skip school to get this
disc, but if you have a day off, why not spend it with Ferris?