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A night out with a Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

“I got my hair crimped for this”

Back to the big screen!
Back to the big screen!

Both sky and highway are washed in gold from the lowering sun as I sail along the 94 toward downtown, there to attend the Grand Re-opening of Rooftop Cinema at the Grand Hyatt. It’s a fine Thursday night; tomorrow; Hillcrest’s Landmark Theater will allow moviegoers inside to see new release dramas The Father, Nomadland, and Minari. But tonight is reserved for something altogether less weighty: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. We’re going back to the movies! That yellow Ferrari parked on F Street isn’t a sign of gross consumerist status-chasing! Rather, like the borrowed Ferrari in the film, it’s an affirmation of life! Which, as Bueller reminds the viewer early on, “moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Jade Freedom in full regalia.

It’s almost enough to make me sympathize with the poor little rich kid, especially when I hear Principal Rooney offer his consolation to Ferris’ girlfriend Sloane over her (not-really) dead grandmother. “Man who is born of a woman hath but a short time to live and is filled with misery. He cometh up, and is cut down like a flower. He fleeth as it were a shadow, and never continueth with one stay.” I heard those self-same words earlier today, at a real-life grandmother’s internment at Holy Cross cemetery. That, and the reminder, made a touch less necessary by the past year, that “in life we are in the midst of death.” It makes evenings like this — watching the sky change from a rooftop four stories up, under the lights and over the city, in the company of other happy souls feeling Spring move in them like it moved in Mole at the start of The Wind in the Willows — feel downright precious.

“I got my hair crimped for this,” says attendee Jade Freedom in tacit agreement. She raided her girlfriend’s closet for her Early Madonna-themed outfit. Also, her girlfriend’s mother’s closet. “This is her mom’s dress. She actually wore it. It’s kind of hideous, right?” Kind of skimpy, too, given the descending chill of evening, but she’s got her leg warmers, jean jacket, and fingerless lace gloves to keep her warm.

So yes, it gets nippy once the sun goes down, and yes, the niggling voice warns me about moviegoing itself becoming as much an exercise in nostalgia as this trip back to the ‘80s. For some reason, people seem to have decided that restaurants are safe during a pandemic but movie theaters are not, despite evidence to the contrary. And once people get used to seeing big new releases at home... But I’m happy to ignore all that, sip on a drink named after Clint Eastwood, and marvel at how much fun John Hughes must have had making this film. It comes through in the score, the way it borrows from horror, jazzy noir, even soulful drama. He’s goofing off, and daring you to resist joining in the fun. Ferris Bueller is an entitled, smug so-and-so, but his joie de vivre is the right kind of infectious. Especially now.

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An ocean of Konnichiwa Sushi

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Back to the big screen!
Back to the big screen!

Both sky and highway are washed in gold from the lowering sun as I sail along the 94 toward downtown, there to attend the Grand Re-opening of Rooftop Cinema at the Grand Hyatt. It’s a fine Thursday night; tomorrow; Hillcrest’s Landmark Theater will allow moviegoers inside to see new release dramas The Father, Nomadland, and Minari. But tonight is reserved for something altogether less weighty: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. We’re going back to the movies! That yellow Ferrari parked on F Street isn’t a sign of gross consumerist status-chasing! Rather, like the borrowed Ferrari in the film, it’s an affirmation of life! Which, as Bueller reminds the viewer early on, “moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Jade Freedom in full regalia.

It’s almost enough to make me sympathize with the poor little rich kid, especially when I hear Principal Rooney offer his consolation to Ferris’ girlfriend Sloane over her (not-really) dead grandmother. “Man who is born of a woman hath but a short time to live and is filled with misery. He cometh up, and is cut down like a flower. He fleeth as it were a shadow, and never continueth with one stay.” I heard those self-same words earlier today, at a real-life grandmother’s internment at Holy Cross cemetery. That, and the reminder, made a touch less necessary by the past year, that “in life we are in the midst of death.” It makes evenings like this — watching the sky change from a rooftop four stories up, under the lights and over the city, in the company of other happy souls feeling Spring move in them like it moved in Mole at the start of The Wind in the Willows — feel downright precious.

“I got my hair crimped for this,” says attendee Jade Freedom in tacit agreement. She raided her girlfriend’s closet for her Early Madonna-themed outfit. Also, her girlfriend’s mother’s closet. “This is her mom’s dress. She actually wore it. It’s kind of hideous, right?” Kind of skimpy, too, given the descending chill of evening, but she’s got her leg warmers, jean jacket, and fingerless lace gloves to keep her warm.

So yes, it gets nippy once the sun goes down, and yes, the niggling voice warns me about moviegoing itself becoming as much an exercise in nostalgia as this trip back to the ‘80s. For some reason, people seem to have decided that restaurants are safe during a pandemic but movie theaters are not, despite evidence to the contrary. And once people get used to seeing big new releases at home... But I’m happy to ignore all that, sip on a drink named after Clint Eastwood, and marvel at how much fun John Hughes must have had making this film. It comes through in the score, the way it borrows from horror, jazzy noir, even soulful drama. He’s goofing off, and daring you to resist joining in the fun. Ferris Bueller is an entitled, smug so-and-so, but his joie de vivre is the right kind of infectious. Especially now.

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