Saturday, May 21, 2016

30 Years of Ferris

The Fight Club Theory is that Cameron, from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, has an alter-ego a la Tyler Durden. That alter ego's name, of course: Ferris Bueller. Ferris is the polar opposite of Cameron in what he says and does in any situation. The evidence is sketchy, but unlike most conspiracy theories, at least this one's fun as hell, and more importantly, backed by one of John Hughes' stellar new wave soundtracks.

First off, both Cameron and Ferris Bueller fake being sick. Whenever Ferris calls Cameron, Cameron has Ferris on speaker; he never once picks up the phone. Cameron, it seems, is having a conversation with himself in bed. Another scene has Cameron say that he is dying. Ferris chimes in saying, "You’re not dying, you just can’t think of anything good to do," the universal theme of youth. Like the death of Paul, most of the implications are subtle, summed up at the end of the Ferrari sequence when Cameron kicks the "NRVOUS" license plate.

"Bueller… Bueller… Bueller…" A good question. Why would the economics teacher ask for Bueller if he didn't exist? Ahh, Cameron’s real name is Bueller; "Cameron" is reserved for Ferris' less secure self. And then comes the part where they blow up the whole city. 

I love the thought put into this hyjinx, even if I don’t buy into it. What I do buy into is the soundtrack, and John Hughes' perceptive use of new wave music in his films, from Ferris to Pretty in Pink. Pretty in Pink was the Holy Grail of 80s soundtracks, and Ferris doesn’t match the brilliance, but including the Dream Academy's "The Edge of Forever," and the stunning instrumental take on "Please Please Please" sets Hughes off as a teen profit, rounding out the mix with Big Audio Dymanite, Yello's "Oh Yeah," General Public and The English Beat. Create your own mix from Ferris, Pretty in Pink (New Order, Psychedelic Furs, OMD, INXS, The Smith)  and Sixteen Candles (Thomspson Twins, Altered Images, Spandau Ballet) and you've got the mid-80s in a nutshell. Ferris Bueller's Day Off was released 30 years ago today.