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Ferris Bueller's Day Off: Bueller… Bueller… Edition

Whether you're a sporto, a slut, a blood, a geek, a wasteoid, a dweebie, or a motorhead, if you're a child of the '80s, chances are you think Ferris Bueller is a righteous dude. Along with legwarmers, jelly bracelets, and break dancing, writer/director John Hughes' irrepressible teenager — perfectly embodied by Matthew Broderick — is a classic part of the Me Decade's cultural legacy. But unlike legwarmers and co., Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986) is one icon that actually holds up a couple of decades down the line, thanks to characters and a plot that will continue to be identifiable as long as teenagers are going to high school. With his universal popularity and seemingly charmed existence, Ferris is the kind of self-confident, happy-go-lucky person we all wish we could have been in high school (or anytime, really). When he decides to fake being sick so that he and his insecure best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck) and elegant girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara) can take a day off to explore Chicago, it's impossible not to wish that you — or your best friend — had done the same (especially when the alternative is the bone-dry economics class taught by monotone master Ben Stein). Ferris's quest to enjoy life while the enjoying is good runs up against a few obstacles — primarily resentful sister Jeanie (Jennifer Grey, proudly sporting her old nose) and principal-on-a-mission Ed Rooney (Jeffrey Jones) — but he still manages to appreciate some art, take in a game at Wrigley Field, outsmart a snooty maitre d', and rock his way through "Twist and Shout" from atop a parade float. Not bad, for a day's non-work.

The lasting appeal of both Ferris the movie and Ferris the character can be largely attributed to star Broderick. Even when Ferris is manipulating his clueless parents (played by Cindy Pickett and Lyman Ward, who got married in real life after making the movie), Broderick makes him effortlessly charming. And when Ferris breaks the fourth wall barrier to address the audience directly, Broderick's perfectly struck tone of mischief-laced earnestness makes you delighted to be taken into his confidence. He's aided and abetted by a strong supporting cast: Ruck has never had a better movie role (though he was great on TV's "Spin City"), Grey nails the part of an "ordinary" teen maddened by a sibling's unfair ability to get away with everything, and Jones plays Rooney with just the right mix of malevolence and pomposity — making his ultimate comeuppance all the more gleefully enjoyable. If the featurettes on Paramount's "Bueller…Bueller… Edition" DVD are anything to go by, everyone involved in the movie seems to have had as much fun making it as audiences have had watching it. A collection of vintage and new cast-and-crew interviews are sliced and diced into three "making-of" segments of varying length: "Getting the Class Together" covers casting (27 min.), "The Making of Ferris Bueller's Day Off" is a more general look behind the scenes (15 min.), and "Who is Ferris Bueller?" hones in on the central character (9 min.). All three offer interesting bits of trivia — Emilio Estevez and Anthony Michael Hall were supposedly originally offered the part of Cameron before it came to Ruck, Edie McClurg improvised the classic "righteous dude" line during her audition for befuddled secretary Grace — though, interestingly, Hughes (who sported the world's worst mullet in 1986) is nowhere to be seen in the new interview segments, and his commentary track from the original DVD release is absent. Also included are "The World According to Ben Stein," in which the former Nixon speechwriter says, among other things, that he adores having fans come up to him and say "Bueller… Bueller…"; "Vintage Ferris Bueller: The Lost Tapes," in which Broderick interviews his fellow cast members on-set in '86; a photo gallery; and previews. The disc offers a clean anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby 2.0 Surround audio in English, French Surround, and English and Spanish subtitles. Keep-case with paperboard sleeve.
—Betsy Bozdech

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