Today marks the first day of spring, and as such, we have all been metaphorically injected with a lethal dose of spring fever. (It’s like botulism, but it spreads slower and is much, much more painful.)
Anyway, when we are developing our playbook for spring, it’s hard to imagine a more iconic template than the one used by Ferris Bueller on his day off in 1986. The personification of carpe diem, Ferris made the most of his lies, sneakiness, and everything else in order to enjoy nice weather, and the change in mindset that a warm, sunny day can bring about (especially in Chicago).
As a kid, I thought it impossible to construct a better day than the writers of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off did. He seemed to do it all. However, as I got older, I realized that Ferris and the gang’s day off wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. In fact, it seemed a little trite. Granted, I don’t think John Hughes was trying to paint Ferris as some edgy loner, drinking alone in bars, then playing dice in casinos in converted auto body shops, but I think he could have painted a more unique experience than the one that Ferris went on.
Chicago has long been one of my favorite cities, and the tourist attractions are pretty amazing, but I’m not sure that I would want to spend my day living to the letter of a Lonely Planet guidebook. Could you imagine if one of your buddies had access to a Ferrari, then offered to drive everyone downtown to visit a museum and go to the top of the tallest building? That sounds like a plan Milhouse from The Simpsons would propose. Toss in the needlessly fancy restaurant and you’ve got one of those dates Meadow and Carmela would take into the city in The Sopranos.
If they were in St. Louis, would they have hung out at the arch? My guess is that their parents all took them to top of the Sears Tower when they were younger. They could have hung out at the beach, or just driven down Lakeshore and enjoyed the day. Instead, they go to the top of a tall, cold building. Sure, it allowed for yet another Cameron Frye existential dilemma, but other than that, it’s a little hackneyed, and seems like a waste of time.
Now, it appeared that the whole gang had a marvelous day, in spite of the fact that Cameron was wearing the jersey of Chicago’s hockey archrivals, the Detroit Red Wings. Granted, Gordie Howe is a legend, but I have to think that there were a few moments off-camera that involved people honking at them as they walked down the street, and I’m sure that Cubs game was no walk in the park. Also, who wears a hockey jersey to a baseball game? I’m aware that he didn’t have any other clothes, but he could have just worn the t-shirt underneath. I mean, it’s not Boston or Philly, so I don’t think wearing the wrong jersey could have cost the group their lives, but I think they would have been more likely to enjoy the kindness of strangers if Cameron had worn a Blackhawks jersey.
Just a theory.
Beyond the principal characters, the most notable thing about this day is the fact that they have access to a 1961 Ferrari GT California. Everything else is a constant. The Cubs will play 80 other times at Wrigley, the Sears Tower will remain safe from terrorist attacks for the next 25 years at least, and as time marches on, there will be even more obnoxious, haughty restaurants in Chicago than there were in 1986. Also, I’m pretty sure that A Sunday Afternoon On The Island Of La Grande Jatte is still hanging up at the Art Institute of Chicago, so Cameron will be able to zone out at that guy any time he pleases.
The only fleeting aspect of the day (besides the parade) is the use of the car. Make the most of it. Drag race. Maybe ask Sloan to visit the museum, then go cruise for chicks with Cameron. Better yet, send Cameron to the museum as well. He’s probably not much of a babe magnet. He’ll probably just end up staring off while they’re talking to him.
Just a suggestion. I bitched about some of the earlier destinations being touristy, but this one’s just weird. Unless the production got a hefty sum of cash for shooting here, I imagine a writer going, “You know where the high schoolers would probably go if they played hooky and had access to a Ferrari? The Chicago Stock Exchange!” and all the other writers just nodding in resignation, unable to say anything because the suggesting writer is the nephew of one of the studio execs.
I mean, go to the zoo or something, right?
Sure, you got a table at Chez Whatever using his name, but maybe you could do some more damage. VIP treatment at strip clubs, rounds of golf, preferential seating at some mid-1980’s Chicago-area fight club…who knows?