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Face-Off: Ferris Bueller vs. John Bender

03.01.2012by: Paul Huffman
Last week we threw together two Oscar winning classics and attempted the near impossible task of deciding if one or the other could be considers superior in The Godfather vs. The Godfather Part II, and the fact that it is a challenging task to be forced to choose between these two films showed in your votes. The tally came out to an even 10-10. Both of these movies deserve their ranks as two of the best cinema has produced, as have the iconic 80's characters that will go head to head in this weeks installment.

The commercial featured during the Super Bowl featuring our beloved Ferris Bueller inspired me to go back and revisit the classic, it's one those movies that age beautifully and only get better with each viewing. After that I decided why stop there and revisited another favorite of mine The Breakfast Club. I started to think of the similarities between the characters of Ferris Bueller and John Bender. Namely their defiance for authority and unique philosophy on life. We fill focus on the better character as a whole. While a couple of these categories may not focus on the character directly, the interactions with the other characters mentioned contributed to what made both of these characters so memorable. Let's do it.
Character Philosophy
Enjoy life. Enjoy youth, while you still have the spirit to do so. And even when you feel like your losing that spirit, cut school in a desperate attempt to reclaim it. Ferris had a constant need to be happy, and to be free, and to enjoy the life given to him while he could. A state of being he was eventually able to impart into his best friend. Ferris taught us all to embrace life, or "you could miss it."
Don't bullshit others, or more importantly yourself. John Bender had this excellent way of confronting others and getting them to confront themselves. He had no illusions about who he was and did his best to shatter the illusions his detention mates may have had about who they were. I've often wished I had someone in my life filled with Bender's no nonsense attitude and directness, because everybody needs a wake up call. Like him or not we could all use a John Bender in our lives.
Mischief Managed
Okay so for the better part of the film Ferris got one over on both his parents and the school principal, convinced his best friend to boost his dads car, got his girlfriend out of school, sang to Twist and Shout on a parade float (way to stay incognito pal), impersonates the Sausage King of Chicago, and makes it back to his house and his parents are none the wiser. I'll be damned if I could accomplish all this in one day.
Not that you could accomplish much locked inside a school library. Either way John managed to close a door that was to be remained open, took his schoolmates on a conquest through forbidden halls, sacrificed himself to save said classmates from further trouble, pulled Mission Impossible back to the library after getting locked in a closet, and successfully hides and smokes some "doobage."
Love Interest
Sloan Peterson you beautiful, adventurous, ride or die, girlfriend of anyone's dreams you. To be that amused by your boyfriends antics and that willing to participate, to be that understanding when your mans best friend admittedly watches you dress into your bathing suit...ah f*ck it, marry me?
Claire Standish challenged our favorite criminal throughout the movie. They spent the time they had together filling each other out, calling each other out on their bullshit and this is the way relationships should blossom, yes? The question of whether they would potentially stay together after this day was brilliantly brought up in the script it had to be confronted. In John Hughes world, absolutely. In real life? Harder to say. It's a great tale of opposites attracting and finding something in common that pulls them together.
Authoritative Nemesis
Ed Rooney you caught on to Ferris' deceitful little game didn't you? But buddy it took you longer than I think it should have. It was all down hill for you from there wasn't it? You just could not win could you? You lose your shoe, your not good with dogs, you lose your wallet, you're the worst burglar I've ever seen, and you can't even get some chick you hates her brother to rat him out. Should have just given Ferris his day man. Rooney was a perfect reflection of the idea of Ferris not letting anyone get in the way of his zest for life and his desire to live it.
Principal "Dick" Vernon he saw right through Bender's sh*t didn't he? Paul Gleason gave quite bit of depth to the character in his performance. You can see in his expressions that the relationship he has with his students and the worry he has for the future has begun some wear and tear on him. In a memorable scene Vernon reaches the end of his rope and in a kick ass fashion strips Bender down to a shell of who he tried to pretend he was. Vernon begun the process of causing Bender to practice what he preached and to take a look inside himself. Well done Dick.
Quotes
-" Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

-"If your not over here in fifteen minutes you can find a new best friend."

-"The question isn't what are we going to do, the question is what aren't we going to do."

-"A: You can never go too far. B: If I'm gonna get busted, it is *not* gonna be by a guy like *that*."

-"Pardon my French, but Cameron is so tight that if you stuck a lump of coal up his ass, in two weeks you'd have a diamond."

-"Only the meek get pinched. The bold survive."

-"Sir, does Barry Manilow know that you raid his wardrobe?"

-"Being bad feels pretty good, huh?"

-"Hey, homeboy, what do you say we close that door, we'll get the prom queen impregnated."

-"You know what I got for Christmas this year? It was a banner fuckin' year at the old Bender family. I got a carton of cigarettes. The old man grabbed me and said "Hey. Smoke up Johnny."

-"Eat...my...shorts."

-"Screws fall out all the time, the world's an imperfect place."

Performances
John Hughes has stated he wrote the part of Ferris Bueller with Matthew Broderick in mind, and he did not disappoint. Broderick gives us a a lighthearted, fun, memorable performance that doesn't let up. It's evident how much fun he had with the role. He made Ferris one charming sumbitch.
The role of John Bender acting wise is a what if situation. Alan Ruck auditioned for the role (the actor who eventually portrayed Ferris Bueller's best friend) and Emilio Estevez was initially considered for the part and opted for "The Jock." Judd Nelson was born to play this role. On paper and on screen, it's my opinion that the character was more layered than Ferris. Nelson had to get across more emotions in his performance. Humor, anger, a hint of sadness. I thought it was ultimately deeper.
John Bender
So there you have it folks. It was a close race but I stand by the outcome of this Face-Off on my end. While both characters have become iconic and are memorable in their own ways, John Bender always resonated and stuck out more with me. Bender seemed to have more depth, more layers, and a more interesting way of dealing with people than did the "righteous dude." But that's just me, with that said...

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Tags: Face-Off

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