Teenager Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) decides to skip another day from school and do whatever he likes for a few hours. He takes his girlfriend (Mia Sara) and his best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck) on a trip into town, but the good life doesn't come without perils, and Ferris must outwit his family and the school principal if he wants it all his own way...
John Hughes wrote and directed this wish-fulfilment teen movie, one of many light hearted teen movies that he made his name with in the eighties. I don't know about you, but I never liked Hughes movies when I was a teenager, I found them conservative and self-impressed, 'cause that's the kind of easygoing kid I was.
Ferris is one of Hughes's rebels, so how does he spend his hard earned free time? Does he go out and get laid, does he dabble in soft drugs, does he sit around eating pizza and getting drunk out of his mind? No he does not, because essentially Ferris is a well brought up, nice middle class boy who lives in a rich suburb where true hardship is a none too familiar predicament.
So what is Ferris rebelling against? Mainly boredom. His nemesis is the humourless, uptight school principal Rooney (Jeffrey Jones) who goes to increasingly desperate lengths to catch Ferris out. Rooney's like one of those Hanna Barbera comedy villains, Dick Dastardly for example, who's just there to get humiliated for our viewing pleasure. Another potential troublemaker is Ferris's sister Jeanie (Jennifer Grey), who is jealous about how he gets away with everything when she sees through his deceptions.
The film rambles along, throwing up various gags, some of which hit the mark, some of which are just complacent. Broderick is an engaging protagonist with his asides to the camera and happy-go-lucky outlook. But does Ferris have the courage of his convictions? Look at where he goes on his day off: a posh restaurant, the stock exchange, an art gallery - he has money on his mind as he drives around in Cameron's father's Ferrari.
And then we're supposed to take things seriously: Cameron tackles his relationship with his father, Ferris says he'll marry his girlfriend, they're all off to college in a year to get qualifications so, the message is, let's enjoy life while we're young. But the impression you actually get is: isn't it great to be rich? Ferris is not one of the true slackers that would emerge in nineties cinema, he puts too much effort into being a layabout - you know that by the time he hits thirty he'll be settled down with the wife and kids, living in suburbia with a steady job and an expensive car in the garage.
And so a generation is duped by John Hughes - this isn't a rebellious movie at all! Ferris doesn't have anything to lose, he'll land on his feet. I dunno, some people. Music by Ira Newborn, and the soundtrack includes Sigue Sigue Sputnik, the Beatles, the "I Dream of Jeannie" theme, the "Star Wars" theme (accompanying the best visual gag in the film) and Yello's "Oh Yeah", which was around a lot at the time, wasn't it? Keep watching the credits for a joke at the end.