Monday, March 23, 2015

the man could squash my nuts into oblivion

At least this movie is not all about sex. Unlike, say, Porky's or Fast Times at Ridgemont High. In the shooting script (1985, July 24), Ferris, Cameron and Sloane do go to a strip club, however--a "garrish, nearly deserted strip joint."

I won't paste the entire scene but basically, Sloane isn't impressed--"I'm losing respect for you by the bucket," she tells Ferris early in the scene--and Cameron is amazed (but has very little to do in the scene).

Some highlights:

Ferris: "You don't think it's amazing that we got in?

Sloane: Who wants to get in?

...

Sloane: I'm not interested in watching someone jiggle their mammary glands.

Ferris: Point well taken. But consider why she does it. Why she does it and you don't.

Sloane: I'm not a tramp.

Maybe not the best angle for Sloane, but at least it offers a little more depth to her character than the movie really does.

Ferris: Maybe her life fell apart. Maybe she lost somebody. A lover. A boyfriend. A parent. A child...
(to CAMERA)
This kind of thing makes me a little depressed. You may think because I'm the age I am that I'm a sex maniac. That sex is all I think about. I think alot [sic] of people my age are. We think about love and matters of the heart. And SAT scores and acne aside, we worry about lonliness [sic]. It's a terrible thing. And we feel it. I feel it.

Ferris makes the scene about him. He almost demonstrated some caring outside himself for a moment there, but no, it wouldn't stick. That's the way he is a lot in both the script and the final film; he clearly has some level of concern for others but there's good reason that Daniel O'Brien at Cracked suspects Ferris may be a sociopath. Though there are more human moments scattered throughout the film, mostly Ferris seems to only want to make Sloane and Cameron have a good time because he thinks he should. This is my girlfriend, society tells me I should make her happy. This is my best friend, society tells me I should make him happy... Actually, if that were all, he's probably do ok, probably do better than many non-sociopaths do. So many of us use out so-called friends... like fair-weather friends or whatever that term is. We're friends when we're together, but when we're apart, we couldn't care less. Same with girlfriends, boyfriends, lovers, husband, wives. It's kind of fucked up.

But, Ferris is a special case because he's oh so entertaining, and we've got a nice movie built around his enormous ego. The strip club scene ends with Ferris performing "Are You Lonesome Tonight," first from the floor then up on the runway, stealing the spotlight from a stripper. Ferris is so over-the-top that even when he's a jerk, we're entertained. Effectively, we are dragged along just like Cameron and Sloane are. Well, we're a bit more willing than Cameron.

As for more sex, there is the prostitute--who is simply "a sexy singing NURSE" in the script. Her lines were:

WE HOPE YOU'RE FEELING BETTER
WE HOPE YOU'RE FELLING [sic] FIT
WE...

Not, as in the final film:

I HEARD THAT YOU WERE FEELING ILL
HEADACHE, FEVER AND A CHILL
I CAME TO HELP RESTORE YOUR PLUCK
'CAUSE I'M THE NURSE WHO LIKES TO--

Unless she was looking to somehow rhyme "cook" with "pluck" that wasn't going to go somewhere wholesome... or legal.

In the jacuzzi (which the script identifies as being "Sloane's parents' jacuzzi"), Sloane and Ferris are, the script implies, naked. At least Sloane is supposed to be; when Cameron reveals a specific line of thought that was in his head while he was catatonic ("if you could only have the use of one word, what would it be?"), Ferris responds, "Sloane is naked before your eyes and you're thinking about words?"

(By the way, Ferris chooses first "bathroom" then "cash" then "hello." Sloane chooses "love." Cameron lets them know the word is "help." And, then he goes and decides he's taking a stand, without all the yelling and kicking, and deliberately pushes his father's car off the jack.)

There's more to Sloane in the script than in the movie--though my new favorite moment with her in the film, her doing homework while they're at the Cubs game, is not in the script--and I almost wish some of this had been left in...

For example, there are a couple sociopolitical bits in the script, one of which is prompted by Cameron...

Cameron: Are you guys worried about nuclear war?

Jump ahead a few lines.

Cameron: Regardless. It's with us every day. The possibility of global destruction.

Sloane: Don't you think it's an issue because people need something to worry about? They have to like, have some major problem that puts all their little bullshit into some kind of perspective?

Cameron: Maybe.

Then Ferris has to jump in. Selfish bastard.

Ferris: They use to have Viet Nam. They used to have the oil crisis stuff and Iran. That's over and people have to have their big issue.

Well, maybe, played right, this could feel like he's being supportive of what Sloane just said, but it's so easily just Ferris monopolizing the conversation like he monopolizes everything else. He continues...

Ferris: It's not like somebody came up with the nuclear holocaust yesterday at noon, you know.

Sloane: To answer your question... No, I'm not worried about it at all.

Skip ahead a few lines to one of the few details we get to know about Sloane at all.

Sloane: My step-father's always going off about how when he was young he was committed to all these causes.

Ferris: He's full of shit. All the old hippies are full of shit.

In a separate conversation (which I'll get to below), Ferris claims his mother was a hippie. This conversation continues...

Sloane: He says I don't care about things like he did.

Ferris: What's he care about now?

Sloane: Baldness, fatty meats and money.

Ferris: I rest my case.

Cameron: What's spooky is they still control everything. They took over when they were young and they never gave it up.

Ferris: One of the most frightening experiences of my young life has been observing my parents and our neighbors playing the Baby Boom Edition of Trivial Pursuits [sic]. It's chilling to see people crazed with the minutia of their past.

Cameron: It's human nature to like what you had better than what you have.

Sloane: Agreed.

That went on a while, and I think I'm far from talking about how this movie is not about sex. I find this bit about nostalgia being left out of the film. The whole point of this singular day in Sloane's, Cameron's and Ferris' lives is the creation of a memorable day before one chapter (high school) ends and another (college) begins. The point to taking this day off, arguably, is for something to be nostalgic for later. But, anyway...

Finally, regarding Sloane getting a bit more depth in the script, after Ferris departs (with a little less urgency than in the final film), we see Sloane in her room writing a letter, "[n]eatly bundled stacks of bills and rolled coins" on her bed. We do not see who the addressee is, but...

...in the amount of $1,765.33. It gives us great pleasure to assist you in performance of your worthy and much needed survives [sic] to those so desperately in need.

Sincerely,

Sloane Peterson
Executive Director
The Ferris Bueller Foundation

I guess they didn't raise the whole $50,000 for Ferris' hypothetical new kidney, but the money they did raise seems to be going to a good cause, via Sloane. I don't know if we're supposed to assume that Ferris has anything to do with this.

As for that other conversation, Ferris tells a story about his uncle who went to Canada to avoid going to Vietnam early in the script. (Right after this story, he also tells a story about a kid named Garth Volbeck, who turns out to be the boy at the police station (Charlie Sheen's character).) Ferris was grounded after after he questions... oh, it's complicated. I'll just copy and paste one more.

Ferris: My uncle went to Canada to protest the war, right? On the Fourth of July he was down with my aunt and he got drunk and told me Dad he felt guilty he didn't fight in Viet Nam. So I said, "What's the deal, Uncle Jeff? In wartime you want to be a pacifist and in peacetime you want to be a soldier. It took you twenty years to find out you don't believe in anything?"
(snaps his fingers)
Grounded. Just like that. Two weeks.
(pause)
Be careful when you deal with old hippies. They can be real touchy.

Skip down.

Ferris: My mother was a hippie. But she lost it. She got old. If she listens to the White Album now? She doesn't hear music, she hears memories. Nostalgia is her favorite drug. It'll probably be mine, too. I hope not.

Maybe it isn't fair to suggest that Ferris is trying to create a memorable day. He's just trying to do something that isn't boring, because life is boring. Will it be a memorable day when he's back in school? When he's off to college? When he's working a desk job like his father? Definitely.

Meanwhile, this movie works as a focus for our nostalgia. And, for we who are no longer teenagers, teenage movies can work as nostalgia, generally. Those boring classroom scenes in Ferris Bueller's Day Off--we can relate, we can remember the boring lectures, the classes we would have loved to skip, or that we did skip.

I can see why the hippie conversations were left behind. They don't sound like stuff teenagers would say. The strip club scene needed to go (and Sloane needed clothes in the jacuzzi scene) because otherwise this movie would not be the family-friendly comedy it is today. (Same with the savings bonds bit.) Seriously, this is a movie about a kid getting away with skipping school and getting way with several crimes in the process. Throw in a strip club and it's not going to play so well with families. As is... this is a movie we still talk about, a movie we still remember.

Nostalgia is a pretty good drug. That might be why I keep coming back to 80s movies.

3 comments:

  1. If there is one word I might use for John Hughes's magic it might be 'self-awareness'-- not in a cheesy, post-modernistic sense, but in the sense that his movies really DO achieve what Ferris Bueller says in the last scene of this one-- "Life moves pretty fast, if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." I think that's one thing good movies do-- they snap us out of our trance, stop us looking over our shoulder (or at advertisements and travel supplements) and make us look at the human condition, especially our own condition here and now. John Hughes's films do this especially, because they are so attentive to particular situations-- whether being a teenager, or being a harried office worker trying to spend time with his family, being a nerd, or whatever. For instance, the Breakfast Club isn't about being caught in detention-- that's just the device. It's about being a teenager, and feeling like an outsider (or a pressured insider), and encountering other people you had previously written off.

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  2. I guess I'm trying to say that few mainstream, commercial, popular movies are less open to the accusation of being JUST escapism, or entertainment, or diversion.

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  3. (Of course, Ferris Bueller IS a postmodernist movie, and it IS self-aware in that particular sense. But I'm talking about a different sense here. John Hughes films are usually about people taking stock of their lives, and of life, and I think this sets them apart. Maybe not Home Alone but I haven't seen that one!)

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