Bonus Points: DVD Reviews

'Bueller, Bueller' Edition Almost Saves 'Ferris'

By Jen Chaney Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 10, 2006; 12:00 AM

"Ferris Bueller's Day Off: Bueller, Bueller Edition" (Rated PG-13; List price: $19.99)
Release Date: Jan. 10

"I don't know that there's ever been a happier movie."

So says Ben Stein, the former Nixon speechwriter whose droning delivery of the perpetually quoted line "Bueller? Bueller?" provides the title for this special edition DVD of "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." Stein, speaking during one of several featurettes included on this single disc, may be exaggerating a bit. But after revisiting the world of the charming high school con artist, played memorably by Matthew Broderick, it's tempting to agree.  The John Hughes classic stands as one of those rare comedies that is very much of its time -- the mid-1980s, as demonstrated by Ferris's synthesizer and Sigue Sigue Sputnik on the soundtrack -- yet delightfully, hysterically timeless.

This DVD marks the first time that one of Hughes's teen comedies has been released with an acceptable number of extra features. Unlike versions of "16 Candles," "Pretty in Pink" and "The Breakfast Club" that have been slapped onto DVD with neither bells nor whistles, "Ferris" comes with a series of extremely entertaining mini-documentaries, nearly all of which include behind-the-scenes footage from the set and recent interviews with members of the cast.

Unfortunately, all the fun featurettes only whet one's appetite for more bonus material. Surely there must be outtakes and deleted scenes in Paramount's vault. And why is Hughes's commentary track -- the one measly extra included on the "Bueller" DVD released in 1999 -- not included?

Speaking of Hughes, he appears only in 20-year-old interviews, sporting a spiked mullet that looked semi-ridiculous even by '80s standards. Not including more up-to-date analysis from the director, who surely would have plenty to say about this comedy's staying power, stands as a striking omission.

I'm happy that the people at Paramount Home Entertainment have finally saved Ferris by putting out this respectable special edition. But I feel compelled to remind them and the folks at Universal, the studio responsible for several lackluster Hughes releases, that life moves pretty fast. If they don't add more bonus features to the DVDs of these teen classics, we aging John Hughes fans could miss them.

Best Bonus Point: All of the featurettes are worth watching, but "Getting the Class Together: The Cast of 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off'" delivers the most interesting tidbits. Who knew that the line "They think he's a righteous dude" was actually invented by actress Edie McClurg, who improvised it during her audition for the role of Principal Rooney's secretary? It's even sweeter to hear the actors who played Mr. and Mrs Bueller -- Lyman Ward and Cindy Pickett -- discuss the fact that they're happily married in real life.

Winning Ben Stein Bonus Points: Ironically, the guy who played the most boring teacher on Earth provides some of the most engaging, heartfelt comments on this DVD. He tells amusing stories about meetings with Nirvana's Kurt Cobain and President George W. Bush, recounts filming his crucial classroom scene (all of which was improvised) and confesses "I've said to my wife repeatedly, I just want on my gravestone, 'He loved dogs' and 'Bueller, Bueller.'"

Also New on DVD This Week: "The Constant Gardener," "Red Eye," and "Hustle & Flow."

If you have feedback about "Bonus Points" or want to suggest a DVD for review, e-mail Jen Chaney.

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