"Bueller, Bueller, Bueller…" With these three words (one word, really), muttered by former Nixon speechwriter and current creationist crusader Ben Stein, a motion picture icon was born.
For the uninitiated, Ferris Bueller is a loveable high school rebel, endearingly portrayed by Matthew Broderick (whose charm almost seems to leap off the screen), who decides that it's just too nice a day to be trapped in school. So, he takes the day off. (It's what office drones and bored undergraduates now refer to as a "mental health day." 'Ferris Bueller's Mental Health Day' doesn't have quite the same ring now does it?)
But he's not in this alone. He's really trying to help his buddy Cameron (Alan Ruck) get out and enjoy life. But Cameron's too busy moping, paralyzed by hypochondria (brought about by overbearing, controlling parents). Eventually, Ferris gets both Cameron, and his super-cute girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara, incomprehensibly adorable) in on his day of leisure. Meanwhile, Ferris' sister (Jennifer Grey) and his high school principal (Jeffrey Jones) spend the day attempting to foil his enjoyment.
And, really, that's all there is to the movie.
The amazing thing is that that's okay. The movie was written and directed by that grand czar of teen angst, John Hughes, with a lightness of touch that is truly admirable. Many of Hughes other films became too mired in the 1980's-ness of it all. (Editor's Note: Here's my take on the elusive Mr. Hughes.) Amazingly, 'Ferris Bueller' feels very much of-its-time while simultaneously being truly timeless. Sure, some of the music and much of the fashion seem to stamp a date on the production (it was released in 1986), but never in a distracting way.
Much of this has to do with Hughes' direction. The movie is shot very simply (by Tak Fujimoto, who would later shoot 'Silence of the Lambs' and 'Sixth Sense'), with basic set-ups, very little camera movement and Ferris often directly addressing the camera. But the way Hughes assembled the movie (with Brian De Palma's longtime editor Paul Hirsch), it has a certain rhythm and flow - a kind of effervescent bounciness, that simply cannot be contained.
There's also a certain truthfulness to Hughes' screenplay, which becomes very identifiable. The emotions are real, whether it’s the psychological abuse that Cameron goes through, or Ferris' genuine appreciation for everyday life and knack for getting into a kind of gentle, kindhearted mischief. If you haven't met a Ferris Bueller-type personality, then you haven't really experience high school. This movie is nothing short of a classic.
I'm not going to sugarcoat this - this is by no means a great looking transfer, but the film itself is able to overcome this.
There's a fair amount of grain and detail is often forgone in favor of a flatter, more washed-out look. At first this bugged me, but after a while I warmed to the transfer. Sure, it probably could have looked better (the movie isn't all that old). Still, I would have preferred this look over something so highly scrubbed that Ferris and friends came away looking like shiny androids.
The 1080p MPEG-4 AVC 2.35:1 transfer is also probably the best 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off' has ever looked. Colors are strong and blacks are fairly solid.
While this isn't a noteworthy presentation, by any stretch of the imagination, it still works within the film, and is leaps and bounds beyond previous home video incarnations.
Again - the lossless Dolby Digital TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack is strong, but won't blow the doors off your rumpus room (not that you'd think it would). It is however far more striking than the video, offering a surprisingly immersive experience for such a straightforward comedy.
While dialogue is mostly front-speaker-focused (but never overbearing), there are many moments where middle and low channels spring to life. This happens during many of the musical moments (in particular the famous parade sequence) and when our characters are out in Chicago, enjoying their day. The baseball sequence at Wrigley Field, in particular, really shines.
While you wouldn't think this level of surround sound would add all that much to the experience, it does. In fact, I was truly impressed by the crispness and clarity of the mix here (not to mention the subtlety - even the echoes of the schoolroom spring to life). It makes you feel as if you're watching the movie for the very first time, which is very big news indeed. I'm sure this is the best it's ever sounded, and a marked improvement on previous releases
Also included on the disc are French Dolby Surround 2.0, Spanish mono and subtitles in English, English for the hard of hearing, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.
Extras are all directly ported over from the last special edition of the movie. It would have been nice to get John Hughes involved in this one, maybe providing a commentary (as he did on a previous DVD edition). Alas, that's not the case. Also - what's up with the lack of trailer?
If you love 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off,' then this should be a no brainer. The disc sports an improved (if not outstanding) picture and a truly wonderful soundtrack, with a sprinkle of interesting special features. Oh yeah, there's also a great movie on the disc that borders on being considered a modern day masterpiece. This is easily 'Highly Recommended.'