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page added: 4/30/09

Blu-ray Review
Review by Jeff Kleist of The Digital Bits

Ferris Bueller's Day Off (Blu-ray Disc)

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Ferris Bueller's Day Off: Bueller... Bueller... Edition
1986 (2009) - Paramount
Released on Blu-ray Disc on May 5th, 2009

Dolby TrueHD

Film Rating: A
Video (1-20): 16
Audio (1-20): 17
Extras: C+

If there's one movie that defines the 1980s, Ferris Bueller's Day Off is it. John Hughes' teen comedies were the blueprint from which sprang everything from American Pie to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The idea of smart yet fallible and vulnerable teens, who often know better than the adults trying to suppress them, was a recurring theme throughout Hughes' short filmmaking career.

On one of the last weeks before graduation, king of the school Ferris Bueller goes for his NINTH sick day, employing a barely passable fakeout on his clueless but well-meaning yuppie parents. Upon succeeding, and after collecting his closest friends, Ferris sets out for an adventure in Chicago. But his nemesis, Principle Rooney, and a jealous and vindictive sister are determined to take him down. Will Ferris be caught and sentenced to another year of high school?

Ferris was shot Super35, at a time when that was rare, with most filmmakers preferring the increased resolution that anamorphic acquisition offers. So it's amazing that Bueller looks as good as it does here. Fine detail on such things as faces was pretty much lost in the original photography, giving the skin textures a smooth, but not unnatural look. Thankfully, there's no indication of digital noise reduction or other artificial processing in this very film-like presentation. Color is drastically improved over the previous DVD release, which tended to have bleeding reds, but there's still that characteristic 80s greyishness in the blacks to contend with. My recollection of seeing a print screened theatrically a few years back leads me to believe this is a fine presentation, however, and about the best Bueller is capable of looking. The sound is the biggest improvement on the entire disc, with previously muddled lines now understandable without kicking on the subtitles thanks to the Dolby TrueHD lossless track.

The 2006 Bueller... Bueller... Edition DVD contained a decent selection of extras, all reproduced here, including cast interviews with Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck, Ben Stein and Ferris's now married-for-real parents, Cyndi Picket and Lyman Ward. Stein gets his own featurette for having built an entire post-political career off of a single catchphrase and character (played in innumerable commercials and TV guest spots). The Lost Tapes is a collection of vintage on-set goofiness, which also features the shooting of a scene that didn't make it into the movie. The only thing that's missing, from the original DVD release way back in 2000, is the John Hughes commentary track. (It was missing on the 2006 DVD as well.)

Ferris Bueller remains, in my opinion, John Hughes' best film. It tells its story at a lightning pace and presents believable yet highly entertaining characters, who have the script tweaked just enough in their favor to get away with the kind of things we only dream of. One can only hope that in 2011, for the film's 25th anniversary, someone can convince Hughes to come out of his cave to help create a definitive edition of the film. Who knows, maybe they can dig out the long lost scenes featuring Ferris' younger siblings too? Interestingly enough, after Ferris Bueller's spin-off television series bombed, the Fox network's own similar concept, Paker Lewis Can't Lose, went on to a decent three-season run, launching the careers of then unknowns Abraham Benrubi (ER), Mila Jovovich (The Fifth Element) and Corin Nemec (The Stand). As one of the few 80s movies that transcends its decade, Ferris Bueller will remain a classic for generations to come... generations less fortunate because their parents are already up on all of the secret school-ditching techniques contained inside. One note to the kids reading: Don't listen to Ferris's fake-out technique - it's a tried and true loser for getting out of school. I've got three words for you: hot water bottle.

Jeff Kleist
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