Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Dir: John Hughes
Teen comedies sit at about the same level as horror films in the hierarchy of artistically respected film genres - and that isn't very high.
While from "Porky's" to "American Pie", teen comedies have often been commercially successful. ("Porky's" was for many years the most successful Canadian film), few would argue any artistic value.
Many of these films are condescending, cliched and in poor taste.
But John Hughes elevated the genre into something in a totally different league
I am convinced that just as we can now appreciate the artistry of the screwball comedies of the '30's, I am sure that in future, the films of John Hughes will be recognized for their skill and artistry, and placed alongside the works of Welles and Kurosawa.
The common factor to many of his films is that he took the problems of teenagers seriously.
In 'Some Kind of Wonderful', he beautifully captures the pain of being in love with someone who thinks of you only as a friend.
In 'Pretty In Pink', he explores the realization that the world is full of social hierarchies and class structures, and that we are largely powerless to change our position within that structure.
In his masterpiece 'Breakfast Club', he explores the concept of individuality, as teenagers struggle to define and control their existence on the planet.
These are serious subjects.
But traditionally, the problems of teenage angst are not taken very seriously by adults who have to face what seem like the far weightier problems of responsibility, money and career.
John Hughes realized that the pain and confusion of teenagers is every bit as potent as that of their elders.
And he spoke to a generation, like a beacon of light, telling youth that their pain was real, that it mattered, but that through basic decency and human kindness everything would be alright.
As one watches these films now, with the eighties fashion, the strange hairdos and of course the musical soundtrack that ties these films inextricably to their time, there is of course a feeling of nostalgia and a feeling that the films have dated.
And yet, the message of these films, and the sincerity with which it is delivered has lost none of its power.
Tonight's film 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off' is a wonderful ode to the joy of life.
Ben Stein, the actor who played the economics teacher in the film puts it better than I ever could, calling it "the most life-affirming movie possibly of the entire post-war period. This is to comedies what Gone with the Wind is to epics. It will never die, because it responds to and calls forth such human emotions. It isn't dirty. There's nothing mean-spirited about it. There's nothing sneering or sniggering about it. It's just wholesome. We want to be free. We want to have a good time. We know we're not going to be able to all our lives. We know we're going to have to buckle down and work. We know we're going to have to eventually become family men and women, and have responsibilities and pay our bills. But just give us a couple of good days that we can look back on."