“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
– Ferris Bueller, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
So says Ferris Bueller, a righteous dude adored by all — the sportos, the motorheads, the geeks, the dweebies, and the dickheads, among others. Written and directed by the late, great John Hughes (The Breakfast Club) and starring Matthew Broderick (Election), Mia Sara (Legend), and Alan Ruck (HBO’s Succession), the 1986 classic Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is now available on 4K Ultra HD from Paramount Home Entertainment.
Before diving into this home release review, I should disclose that I have long considered Ferris Bueller’s Day Off to be my personal favorite film of all time. This was an extremely formative movie in my mid-to-late teenage years which helped me grow more comfortable in my own skin and find confidence in channeling my energy into the things that I am passionate about. Now, at 23 years old, entering an entirely new era of my life on the other side of college, the central theme of living in the moment and enjoying the journey remains as poignant as ever.
Released a year after The Breakfast Club, another iconic ‘80s classic directed by Hughes, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is timeless and continues to find a way to speak to each successive generation. Some viewers see themselves in the carefree spirit of Broderick’s school-skipping, parade-float-commandeering protagonist, while others may identify more closely with the anxiety-ridden Cameron Frye (Ruck), or even the spontaneous, along-for-the-ride personality of Sloane Peterson (Sara). The wide range of characters created by Hughes across different stories are developed in such a way to connect with audience members on a broad level, but also make them feel seen on a personal, intimate level. These figures may as well be people we know from our families, our schools, our workplaces, our hometowns. They are uniquely relatable characters, but their situations are just far enough outside of our own reality to remain a form of escapist entertainment. Hughes made his career walking this tightrope with a nimbleness that few other directors ever have or ever will.
The success of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off starts and ends with its character work, but it is also just a damn fine piece of filmmaking. Watching it in 4K was an unmistakable reminder of Hughes’s ability as a visual director. Previously, I had viewed the film in standard definition on DVD, as well as HD streaming, but Paramount’s gorgeous 4K transfer heightens everything that already works. From the impeccably framed and timed visual gags, to the sprawling Chicago cityscape captured by cinematographer Tak Fujimoto (The Silence of the Lambs), skipping school has never looked crisper. Additionally, the efforts by legendary editor Paul Hirsch (on the heels of credits like Star Wars, Blow Out, and Footloose) cannot be overlooked. The parade scene never fails to amaze me as a masterclass in rhythm and structure, with happenstance moments of B-roll and dozens of inserts seamlessly integrated to the soundtrack of The Beatles’s “Twist and Shout.” It is a beautiful sequence featuring people from all walks of life coming together without a second thought to sing and dance their hearts out in the city streets. In that moment, nothing else in the world matters to these people — a delight that radiates through the screen as brightly as their smiles.
Looking to other materials on the Ferris Bueller’s Day Off 4K release, home media enthusiasts will be pleased to find a substantial array of bonus features. Hughes’s original director’s commentary is available, as well as another hour-plus of cast and crew interviews, featurettes, and other behind-the-scenes goods. “Getting the Class Together: The Cast of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” is a 27-minute segment with anecdotes and commentary from practically every member of the cast, from the main players to the character actor roles and bit parts. “The Making of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” provides insight on some of the physical filmmaking (including a great story from Alan Ruck about the infamous destruction of Cameron’s dad’s car) and the process of the actors’ on-set improv. And, if you want to hear Hughes, Broderick, and the rest of the crew wax poetic about the essence of Ferris, “Who is Ferris Bueller” will fit the bill.
Even taking a step back from my own distinct love for this film, the Ferris Bueller’s Day Off 4K is a worthy addition to any cinephile’s collection. Whether you’re a Bueller, Frye, Sloane, or even an Ed Rooney, it never hurts to be reminded, as the man himself says, that life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the movie being covered here wouldn’t exist.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off 4K Ultra HD Legacy Special Features:
- Commentary with Director John Hughes
- Getting the Class Together: The Cast of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
- The Making of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
- Who is Ferris Bueller?
- The World According to Ben Stein
- Vintage Ferris Bueller: The Lost Tapes
Available on 4K UHD Blu-ray and digital August 1st, 2023.
For more information, head to the official Paramount Pictures Ferris Bueller’s Day Off webpage.