Tag Archives: John Hughes

Classic Movie Review: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Thanks to the dozens of readers who expressed their disbelief that it did not make my most rewatchable movies list (and that I had never seen it), I finally went out and obtained myself a copy of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

It’s not easy watching a film as beloved as Ferris for the first time.  When everyone you know (and don’t know) rave about it, it’s natural to have inflated, unrealistic expectations.  So I did my best to keep an open mind and approach it from a neutral position.

For those who have been living under a rock since 1986 (like me), Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) is the coolest kid in school whom everybody loves — except for his sister (Jennifer Grey) and the dean of students (Jeffrey Jones), who is out expose Ferris as a truant and a bad role model for other kids.  The film takes place over a single, perfect day, as Ferris and his neglected best friend (Alan Ruck) and girlfriend (Mia Sara) skip school and go on a wacky adventure across Chicago, getting into all sorts of crazy mischief but somehow always managing to evade disaster at the last minute.

It’s the type of fun, joyful, carefree, sweet, heart-warming, coming-of-age comedy that John Hughes (RIP) is synonymous with, bursting with life, spirit and a truckload of heart.  They don’t make movies like this any more (last year’s Easy A was a homage to Hughes’s 80s flicks and had several Ferris references — but it just wasn’t the same).

Having now watched it twice within a week, I can say without reservation that Ferrs is indeed an undoubted classic that is highly capable of and deserves multiple re-viewings.  And watching the film for the first time 25 years after it was initially released, I also received plenty of unexpected surprises and shocks.

For starters, the Matthew Broderick I knew was the wimpy one married to Sarah Jessica Parker, but as Ferris Bueller he is utterly dashing, charming and affable.  The Alan Ruck I knew was the Spin City head, but he’s never been better here as the baby-faced best friend who steals the show at various times.  And Mia Sara?  Jennifer Grey?  Charlie freaking Sheen (as a drugged out delinquent, no less!)?  I had a big smile on my face all throughout the 103-minute running time.

I’ll be watching it again.  And again.  And again.

5 stars out of 5!

Movie Review: Easy A (2010)

I went to see another preview screening last night, one I had extremely low expectations for — Easy A.  Even though it was showing at a mainstream cinema, I thought the turn out was going to be relatively small.  Boy was I wrong!  The cinema was packed out with people lining up way in advance to see this Will Gluck-directed teen comedy, featuring an all-star cast headed by the up-and-coming Emma Stone (I last saw her in Zombieland).  Luckily, with my (ahem) press credentials, I avoided the crowd and the security check.

My first instinct was that Easy A was going to be another hopeless teen flick that’s stupid, vulgar, and not particularly funny.  Wrong again.  As it turned out, Easy A was, suprisingly, a rare teen flick that’s actually funny and clever!

Emma Stone plays Olive, a super-nice, witty and “normal” high school girl who one day decides to lie about a sexual encounter to her best friend.  And before she knows it, the school rumour mill turns Olive into the local skank.  As her life spirals out of control, Olive begins to see the parallels between her life and that of Hester Prynne in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s literary classic, The Scarlet Letter (hence the “A” in Easy A).  I know it doesn’t sound all that great but don’t let that put you off.

Easy A‘s impressive all-star cast is led by Emma Stone, who carries the film from start to finish as the immensely likable and endearing Olive.  If this film takes off she’s going to be huge.  Amanda Bynes plays her arch-nemesis, the ultra-religious Marianne (with Cam Gigandet from Twilight as her dim-witted boyfriend), while Penn Badgley plays the too-nice, always-around Woodchuck Todd (it was worth putting up with him just for the Gossip Girl reference) and Dan Byrd (from The Hills Have Eyes) is Brandon, the obvious closet homosexual.  Others include Thomas Haden Church as the wonderful teacher, Lisa Kudrow as the guidance counsellor, and Malcolm McDowell as the principal.  But it’s Olive’s quirky parents, played by Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson, that absolutely steal the show with their crazy antics.

My problems with Easy A are relatively minor.  First of all, it’s hard to buy Emma Stone (as pretty and sassy and witty as she is in this film) as just an “ordinary” girl who was virtually invisible at her school before gossip made her notorious.  Why the heck would she not have been a superstar at school?  Secondly, it doesn’t really make sense that someone as sensible and intelligent as her would ever want to perpetuate vicious rumours in order to become more “popular” amongst her peers.  And thirdly, there were times when she was simply too nice to be believable.  But if you can overlook those things, Easy A is a stand-out teen comedy in almost every other way.

Easy A is a throwback (or even a homage) to those classic 80s films made by John Hughes, such as Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Ferris Beuller’s Day Off (there are numerous references to them throughout the film).  There’s a huge cast of characters, mostly caricatures but at least with interesting quirks.  The story is compelling but grounded and at least semi-plausible.  It’s funny without being outrageously hilarious or over-the-top.  And there’s a social message about high school life (in this case, how gossip can get out of hand) that adds a dash of poignancy to the whole affair.  It doesn’t quite reach “classic” status, or at least not yet, but considering the crap teen comedies that have been churned out in recent years, Easy A is a refreshing, pleasant surprise.

3.75 stars out of 5