Chicago Sun-Times - - WEEKEND PLUS -

Movie the­aters have been re­open­ing at a time when new movies are few. In­stead, many of the screens are show­ing old fa­vorites, es­pe­cially this Chicago crowd-pleaser. This week, it’s show­ing at the Charlestow­ne 18 in St. Charles as well as drive-ins near Sol­dier Field (chi-to­ and Chi-Town Fut­bol in Pilsen (www.chi­town­fut­

Here is one of the most in­no­cent movies in a long time, a sweet, warm-hearted com­edy about a teenager who skips school so he can help his best friend win some sel­f­re­spect. The ther­apy he has in mind in­cludes a day’s visit to Chicago, and af­ter we’ve seen the Sears Tower, the Art In­sti­tute, the Board of Trade, a parade down Dear­born Street, ar­chi­tec­tural land­marks, a Gold Coast lunch and a game at Wrigley Field, we have to con­cede that the city and state film of­fices have done their jobs: If “Fer­ris Bueller’s Day Off ” fails on ev­ery other level, at least it works as a trav­el­ogue

It does, how­ever, work on at least a few other lev­els. The movie stars Matthew Brod­er­ick as Fer­ris, a bright


high school se­nior from the North Shore who fakes an ill­ness so he can spend a day in town with his girl­friend, Sloane (the as­ton­ish­ingly beau­ti­ful Mia Sara), and his best friend, Cameron (Alan Ruck).

At first, it seems as if skip­ping school is all he has in mind -— es­pe­cially af­ter he talks Cameron into bor­row­ing his dad’s re­stored red Fer­rari, a car the fa­ther loves more than Cameron him­self.

The body of the movie is a light­hearted ex­cur­sion through the Loop, in­clud­ing a Ger­man-Amer­i­can Day parade in which Fer­ris leaps aboard a float, grabs a mi­cro­phone and starts singing “Twist and Shout” while the march­ing band backs him up. The teens fake their way into a fancy restau­rant for lunch, spend some time gawk­ing at the mas­ter­pieces in the Art In­sti­tute, and then go out to Wrigley Field, where, of course, they are late and have to take box seats far back in the left­field cor­ner. (The movie gets that de­tail right; it would be too much to hope that they could ar­rive in the third in­ning and find seats in the bleach­ers.)

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 sel­f­re­spect in the face of his fa­ther’s ma­te­ri­al­ism.

Fer­ris is, in fact, a bit of a preacher. “Life moves pretty fast,” he says. “If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could 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.

“Fer­ris Bueller” was di­rected by John Hughes, the philoso­pher of ado­les­cence, whose cred­its in­clude “Six­teen Can­dles,” “The Break­fast Club” and “Pretty In Pink.” In all of his films, adults are strange, dis­tant crea­tures who love their teenagers, but fail com­pletely to un­der­stand them. That’s the case here, all right: All of the adults, in­clud­ing a bum­bling high­school dean (Jef­frey Jones), are dim-wit­ted and one-di­men­sional. And the movie’s solutions to Cameron’s prob­lems are pretty sim­plis­tic. But the film’s heart is in the right place, and “Fer­ris Bueller” is slight, whim­si­cal and sweet.


Alan Ruck (from left), Mia Sara and Matthew Brod­er­ick in “Fer­ris Bueller’s Day Off.”

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