Ferris Bueller Sells Out

For those of us who grew up in the 80s, there are films that still define our lives. From time to time we measure romance against Lloyd Dobler holding a boombox up to Diane Court’s window in Say Anything…, we have seemingly unprofessional and adolescent dance breaks at the office born of The Breakfast Club, and whether we’re skipping out on work, school, or responsibility, we’re doing so because Ferris Bueller taught us how. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was a film for the ages, John Hughes’ celebration of an anti-establishment, anti-adult sentiment that prevailed in many of Hughes’ works, films that were almost completely devoid of grownups. Because being an adult was the opposite of what we wanted to be, what we never wanted to be. We wanted to be that age forever, and so there was no growing up, no sequels. Until now.

Matthew Broderick sold out an entire generation in appearing in a Honda commercial that, essentially, acts as a pseudo-sequel to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, John Hughes’ seminal 80s film.  The ad (which can be seen below), intended to premiere during the Super Bowl but released early on YouTube after a ten second teaser ignited false rumours of a true Bueller sequel, shows Broderick in a very Bueller fashion, reliving or revisiting many of the iconic moments from the film. The premise of the commercial is that it’s about Broderick, but the tacit conceit is that he is indeed Bueller. Hughes created worlds for his audience to dream not about, but in, and in two-minutes-and-twenty-five-seconds Broderick is able crush that revelry in order to try and sell a Honda CRV, a half-car half-SUV typically marketed towards soccer mums and recently promoted Applebees bartenders. Couldn’t it at least have been a Ferrari? Are we to believe that Bueller sold out for the 2012 version of Cameron’s piece of shit?

The allure of Ferris Bueller was that he was able to appeal to every demographic. As high school secretary Grace tells Ferris’ foil, Principal Rooney: “Oh, he’s very popular Ed. The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads – they all adore him. They think he’s a righteous dude.” This is perhaps what Honda saw in him, a marketers dream that could sell anyone with an average credit rating a mediocre automobile. They must believe that the wastoids et al have grown up, and yet would still look to the Ferris’ of their lives for guidance. Bueller too has grown up, and done well apparently, staying at a very swank hotel, in a suite no less. But is this believable? Can those of us who worshipped Bueller, and have grown up ourselves, truly buy into the notion that 25 years later he’s successful?

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off takes place during Ferris’ final year of high school, and one is left to consider what became of Bueller that fall. There’s no mention of SATs in the film, crucial for an aspiring American student to attend college. Sure, Ferris’ computer skills were able to hack into his high school’s IBMs, but the Educational Testing Service which administers the SATs would surely be beyond his capabilities. His singing was, at best, average, and having missed so many classes during high school my best guess is that he had to pull a few strings to get into DeVry. Though the king of his peers, when out in the adult world he is somewhat naïve, as seen in his trust in the parking attendants who take Cameron’s dad’s borrowed Ferrari for a thrill ride. An educated guess would put Ferris, now 43, out of work, occasionally singing in an 80s cover band whose biggest gig to date was opening for a Bon Jovi tribute group at the airport Ramada Inn.

And what of Cameron Frye, Alan Ruck’s hypochondriac voice of reason, Ferris’ conscience and best friend? I’d buy a CRV if Frye was selling it, because it’s believable that 25 years later Cameron and his 2-and-a-half kids would need a practical and affordable automobile. He was obviously off to a good college the unseen fall following the day off. Cameron’s dad owned a Ferrari, it’s not a stretch to believe he had a few connections that would help usher Cameron into the real world of grownups, and 401Ks, and the Disney Family Channel.

And where the hell is Sloane, who does not appear in the commercial? You’re telling me that Mia Sara couldn’t use the work? When we last saw Sloane, it was promised that she would be Mrs. Bueller, after one more year of high school. But we all know that was less than likely. A more reasonable scenario had Sloane dumping Ferris the following Thanksgiving in the tradition of the Turkey Dump, upon realizing that it’s creepy to date a guy who got into DeVry by the skin of his teeth while you’re still in high school. Sloane couldn’t sell me a CRV, but it would not surprise me if she was married to a guy who sold them second hand.

Now Jeanie, or Shawna, Ferris’ sister, would be an appropriate pitchwoman for the CRV. In 1986 Jeanie was Jeannie driving a nice, practical Pontiac Fiero. She was built for the suburbs. She has soccer mum and white wine spritzer afternoons written all over her. And after a post-Ferris and Dirty Dancing career freefall, actress Jennifer Grey could certainly use the gig. Appropriately, in the film Charlie Sheen played Boy in Police Station who has been arrested for drugs, a role Sheen continues to play today. Given the inexplicable success of Two and a Half Men, a good portion of Americans would buy anything from Sheen.

How crushing is this perceived betrayal by Broderick? Am I taking the modest late-career paycheque of a middling character actor too seriously? Perhaps, but look what it has made me do. Honda and Mrs. Jessica Parker have coerced me into imagining the futures of my static heroes, to rationally quantify those who helped form the romantic in me, the mystic, the dreamer. Consider that Broderick has taken me from the fantasy of the Ferrari to the practical rationality of the CRV in less than the amount of time it takes to read this essay. It makes me wonder, with great fear and reservation, what may be next. If Principal John Bender ever tries to sell me a Denny’s Breakfast Club, we’re going to have a problem.