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Extra Extra: Happy Birthday, Ferris

By Chuck Sudo in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 11, 2011 9:00PM

25 years ago today a film John Hughes wrote and shot on a budget of less than $6 million debuted in theaters. Ferris Bueller's Day Off went on to recoup those expenses, become one of 1986's top grossing and critically acclaimed movies, become part of the cultural lexicon - "Bueller? Frye?" - and showcase Chicago in a way that films hadn't in years.

But then that's what John Hughes did in all of his films - showcase Chicago. That was especially true with Ferris:

"Chicago is what I am," said Hughes. "A lot of Ferris is sort of my love letter to the city. And the more people who get upset with the fact that I film there, the more I'll make sure that's exactly where I film. It's funny—nobody ever says anything to Woody Allen about always filming in New York. America has this great reverence for New York. I look at it as this decaying horror pit. So let the people in Chicago enjoy Ferris Bueller."

In his review of Ferris, Roger Ebert found the deeper theme to the film buried under its "let's skip school premise:"

There is one great, dizzying moment when the teens visit the top of the Sears Tower and lean forward and press their foreheads against the glass, and look straight down at the tiny cars and little specks of life far below, and begin to talk about their lives. And that introduces, subtly, the buried theme of the movie, which is that Ferris wants to help Cameron gain self-respect in the face of his father's materialism.

Ferris is, in fact, a bit of a preacher. "Life goes by so fast," he says, "that if you don't stop and look around, you might miss it." He's sensitive to the hurt inside his friend's heart, as Cameron explains how his dad has cherished and restored the red Ferrari and given it a place of honor in his life - a place denied to Cameron.