I visited the Art Institute of Chicago last summer and discovered, to my horror, that I did not have The Dream Academy's version of The Smiths' Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want on my phone.
Some of my fellow children of the '80s are ahead of me on this one. That was the song that was playing during the Art Institute scene in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, as Ferris, Cameron and Sloane spend some of their time ditching school to take in some great works of art, particularly Georges Seurat's A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.
Screening Wednesday at The Kentucky Theatre, Ferris Bueller's Day Off is the third installment in the LexGo Totally Awesome '80s Film Festival.
I actually saw Ferris just a few days after graduating from high school in 1986 and ironically found a perfect high school film.
By then, John Hughes had established himself as the auteur of our high school years with films such as Sixteen Candles (1984) and The Breakfast Club (1985), the March 27 entry in the LexGo film fest. But this week we have Ferris and maybe Hughes' greatest creation: the perfect teen.
Daffy school secretary Grace, brilliantly played by Edie McClurg, summed it up best when she told Principal Rooney, "The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, (expletive) — they all adore him. They think he's a righteous dude."
In the cliquish world of high school, Ferris defied peer group. He did things as geeky as programming his keyboard to mimic vomit sounds, as cool as playing parade rock star, as sporty as taking in a Cubs game and as defiant as skipping school — all with epic charm.
In 2011 on the occasion of Bueller's 25th anniversary, The Atlantic magazine writer Alan Siegel wrote a column complaining that everyone needs to get over Ferris because it acts like a universal story, but it isn't.
I'd say Siegel didn't get it.
It wasn't that everyone had Ferris' life, it's that we wanted it, especially if we could be as charming as Matthew Broderick. If we skipped school, we spent the day hoping we wouldn't get caught. Ferris didn't and had an awesome time. And really, the dude seemed smart enough that you never thought this one lost day of education would hurt him.
It's a fantasy.
Like I said, high school was over for me when I saw Ferris Bueller's Day Off. But one of the reasons it holds up so well is that we learn some eternal truths from this high school senior. Most of us leave high school and grow up quickly. College gets real fast, and we have responsibilities and families. Anything close to a day of frivolity nearly has to be forced.
That afternoon in Chicago last summer, I almost didn't know how to enjoy it, until I had a Ferris thought.
We age, our kids grow, and we just try to keep up.
At 45, I can say it probably would do me some good to listen to Ferris' most famous philosophy: "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."
IF YOU GO
LexGo Totally Awesome '80s Film Festival
When: 7:15 p.m. Wednesdays, Feb. 27-March 27
Where: Kentucky Theatre, 214 E. Main St. Free parking in Transit Center garage; enter on High St. across from the post office or Calvary Baptist Church.
Tickets: $6; available in advance at Kentuckytheater.com and at the box office.
Learn more: (859) 231-7924
March 13: Ferris Bueller's Day Off
March 20: Risky Business
March 27: The Breakfast Club
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Talk about Coal Miner's Daughter and the other movies in the LexGo Totally Awesome '80s Film Festival on Twitter with the hashtag #totallyawesome80s.