Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ferris Bueller's 25th anniversary, aka I heart Cameron Frye

Next week, June 11 to be exact, marks the 25th anniversary of Ferris Bueller's Day Off. While Matthew Broderick may not seem nearly as cool as he use to be, his character Ferris Bueller defined cool in the 80s. The movie's director, John Hughes, basically created pop culture in the 80s. His Brat Pack films helped define adolescence for a whole generation. While the majority of his movies were set in high school, there were no real discernible popular kids in his Illinois high schools. All of Hughes' children (that's the best way to describe all of his characters) were full of pathos. It's what drew teenagers to his movies. His characters were real people we could all identify with. Although his movies were fun, what made them endearing was how each generation related with the brain, athlete, basket case, princess or criminal. In that respect, Bueller himself was an outlier. Bueller is, arguably, the only carefree character in Hughes' whole repertoire. Ferris is none of those things. And it is because of this that Bueller is not entirely relatable.

Leisure does, in fact, rule.

Bueller's upper-middle class existence through life can hardly be called a struggle. The movie's whole thesis is the importance of just learning to relax and enjoy life. The tagline, the premise and every quote that finds its way to high school yearbooks, it all leads up to one important moral, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

Wise words from a wise man...

We can listen to Ferris, but honestly, we could never learn from him. He is already knee deep in his own philosophy. The man we see in the beginning of the movie and the end is the same smirking bastard throughout. He does not learn anything. He does not grow as a person. But then again that's not the point. Ferris is the rock that the whole movie relies on, but in the end the movie that bears his name is not really his movie. The secret to the movie is that, in actuality, it's Cameron's story.

Cameron is the third-wheel in the Gordie Howe jersey.

Cameron Frye is the true heart of the movie. The problem is that nobody really wants to watch a movie starring his neurotic self. But in the end, it's Cameron who grows as a person. The emotional and character arc is solely Cameron. Hell, the Ferrari goes through more of a development than most of the cast. Ferris is the cool friend we all want to be, but Cameron is the mess we all find ourselves as. And that is why Cameron is one of the characters in cinema that I hold dearest to my heart.

I even bought that t-shirt online.

Like Cameron, I too am so tight that if you stuck a lump of coal up my ass, in two weeks you'd have a diamond. He is the Ferris' philosophy at work. Cameron is the proof that a day of having fun in Chicago and a nervous breakdown can lead to enlightenment. The audience's heart goes out to Cameron throughout the whole movie as he learns to let go and be carefree. Only Alan Ruck's character can make staring at a Georges Seurat painting so vulnerable. Cameron may not get the very hot Sloane on his arm, but in the end he does develop as an individual. We never see what happens after his day off or the fallout from wrecking the Ferrari, but in the end we don't need to. Because that look on his face after it plunges out the window is all we need to know he'll be alright. And that is why I identify more with him than Ferris.

Although the person I resemble the most is drug-addled Charlie Sheen.

Recent watchers of the movie have even rebelled against the Ferris ideal. In today's cynical times, many have seen Ferris only as an entitled, spoiled, sociopath. Some people nowadays have taken Jeanie's point of view, yet did not learn from her subplot. This revisionist history found on blogs and IMDb message boards paints Ferris as nothing more than Charles Manson in a leopard-skin vest. Instead of wanting to be as carefree as everyone's favorite slacker, many have vilified him. People have even taken to seeing Ed Rooney, the hapless dean of students, as an anti-hero. While I do hoist Cameron as the hero of the film, Rooney is nothing more than a prick.

Jeffrey Jones would later be a convicted sex offender.

If Ferris Bueller was a real person he would now be 25 years older than we see him in the movie. Being 25 years older, who knows what he would be doing now or if his leisurely lifestyle continued into his middle-aged life. Maybe it's better we never know how his life works out. All we need is a snapshot of that one day in Chicago. For all of our sakes, we need to believe that we can stop and enjoy life. Because, while we all may want to be like Ferris, most of us are like Cameron. And like Cameron, hopefully we can all let go of our problems and learn to relax.

Cameron Frye, you're my hero.

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