• Reel Reviews

‘Twist and Shout’ with Ferris Bueller

written by: on March 7, 2012

Watching a John Hughes movie is like slipping into a vivid time capsule of 1980s youth in revolt. Inside this endearingly inverted world, the teens are wise beyond their years and constantly out-smarting their clueless parents and villainous high school teachers. But while Hughes’ clever adolescent heroes have earned him a loyal fan base, he is perhaps best known for his brilliant musical insight. Now-iconic anthems like Simple Minds’ “Don’t You Forget About Me” and the Psychedelic Furs’ “Pretty in Pink” defined a generation of disenfranchised teens, speaking to both their cravings for freedom and also their secret desires of holding on to innocence for just a little longer.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is the story of a charming high school rebel (Matthew Broderick, in the role that made him a household name) who decides to skip class in the boring suburbs and embark on a series of unforgettable adventures in the city with his girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara) and neurotic best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck). Hilarious and heart-warming in equal measure, this 1986 film classic also features an odd and defiantly eclectic musical score. Ironically, Hughes decided to not release an official soundtrack to one of the most popular entries in his cinematic canon—claiming that no one would want to listen to such an off-the-wall combination of genre and style. However, with its inspired mix of classic rock and zany new-wave, the “unofficial” soundtrack to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is just as delightfully quirky, irreverent, and enduring as Ferris Bueller himself.

The movie opens with Ferris faking sick (and psyching out his parents) to the tune of “Love Missile F1-11,”a kooky dance mix from British glam-punk rockers Sigue Sigue Sputnik. This song is a peculiar but fitting choice, as Ferris bops around his room to the beat and styles his hair in the shower into a punky, soapy mohawk. Next up is Yello’s “Oh Yeah,” a humorous translation of Ferris’ inner monologue as he ogles Cameron’s father’s shiny red Ferrari. With one deep bass droning lasciviously over a pattering of electronica, this synth-pop ditty also includes the signature “chicka-chickahh” sound that pops up during random comical moments throughout the film.

Other musical highlights include the first aerial shots of the kids’ drive into Chicago (“Beat City” by the Flowerpot Men), the disastrous decision to leave their car with two crooked garage men (“B.A.D.” by Big Audio Dynamite), and the requisite romantic scene of Ferris kissing Sloane goodbye (“The Edge of Forever” by The Dream Academy).

Another Dream Academy song plays during the museum montage, as the trio explores The Art Institute to an enchanting instrumental cover of The Smith’s “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want.”

However, the film’s most famous sequence occurs when Ferris hijacks a German parade float and incites an enormous crowd to sing and dance along with him. He begins by lip-syncing to high school German class favorite, Wayne Newton’s “Danke Schoen,” before launching into a brassy and rambunctious version of The Beatles’ “Twist and Shout.” The sight of 10,000 people clapping, jumping, and shimmying down Dearborn Street is not only the most memorable scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but one of the most beloved celebrations of rock ‘n’ roll in cinema history.

As a tribute to anyone who has ever played hooky (or wished that they had), this film owes much of its success to the loveable eccentricity of its soundtrack. Perhaps John Hughes did his target audience a favor by not releasing an “official” album of generic pop—after all, when did an “unofficial” rogue like Ferris Bueller ever follow the rules?