Deeper, less filling

Finally I can knock off one my long-standing must-see films off my list - or at least I've kept hearing it's a must see.

The premise - on the off-chance you don't know - is that high school senior Ferris Bueller pretends to be sick to get off school, hangs with a couple friends, and tries not to be caught by those who are suspicious of him - namely his sister and the principal.

Bueller is one of those perky, nothing-can-go-wrong sorts whose personality goes a long way toward a life where nothing does go wrong. Matthew Broderick is perfect for the role, with his too-perfect smile and that lilting voice. He moves between earnest optimism and Eddie Haskell obsequience with ease.

I liked seeing Jennifer Grey as Ferris' sister, just a year before her starring role in Dirty Dancing, and very much the same ebullient character we see in that movie.

The whole cast really is being directed in a very basic way - I hesitate to call it surfacy, but it's the closest word I can find. The problem with that label is it becomes easy to dismiss these performances. There are subtleties here that come out because of the delicate directing job. There are philosophical moments that would so easily seem to come from nowhere if not for this balance. John Hughes, writer/director of so many teen movies of 1980s, is responsible here, and he does a great job, free of any ambitious artifacts.

The movie ends up surprisingly as a discourse on responsibility for one's life, rooted in some real philosophy. This veneer of fun, frivolous inanity is only an easy way to present some ideas of real depth. I have to admit I was expecting something far wackier than this, but I didn't miss that because there was something worthwhile going on.

There's one other John Hughes flick on my list of must-sees - from other people putting it there, not my own expectations - The Breakfast Club.

Interesting to note that the same day I watched this film, Jeffrey Jones, who played the principal in this film, was arrested, accused of hiring a juvenile to take naughty pictures. I wonder what will happen when I watch The Breakfast Club... Stay tuned.

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