Ferris Bueller you're my hero
Defining Moment no. 49:
How one day in the life of a truanting teenager continues to influence the 1980s generation.

There aren't many films that unite an entire generation. But if you say to anyone aged 25 to 35 "Ferris Bueller, you're my hero!" they'll probably reciprocate with a barrage of quotes. If you grew up in the 1980s, you're likely to have seen John Hughes's 1986 high-school skiving comedy, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, at least once. You may well have seen it at least 50 times - and own it on DVD as well as VHS.

So why did it reach the parts that other 1980s high-school comedies didn't? There are many reasons - from Hughes's zippy script and memorably risque plot twists to cheeky complicity with the camera and staggeringly modish outfits. But it wouldn't have reached classic status without the young Matthew Broderick's casting as Ferris Bueller, the parent-conning teenage protagonist. Twenty- four-year-old Broderick brought just the right combination of puppy eyes, trickster confidence and school-hero panache to the role (he has spent the past 20 years being harassed in the street by cries of "Bueller! Bueller!"). Along with his girlfriend Sloane and lackadaisical pal Cameron Frye (Alan Ruck) - and the help of a sneeze-simulating keyboard - Ferris fools everyone that he is too sick for school. Together, the truanting trio enjoy a wild day in downtown Chicago, in Cameron's father's beloved red Ferrari.

Of the film's 102 delightful minutes, the most dazzling are at the end. The race is on: Ferris's mother and stroppy sister Jeanie (Jennifer Grey - a year before Dirty Dancing) are on their way home to check on the invalid. So begins a pulse-racing sequence as Ferris takes the scenic route - in and out of backyards - to beat them to it. Availing himself of a trampoline and crashing through a neighbour's barbecue announcing "Dinner's ready!" Ferris hurtles his way to safety. His golden boy reputation is seconds from ruination, but still the ever-suave teenager can't resist introducing himself to two sunbathing girls: "Hi, I'm Ferris Bueller."

And so he gets away with it - and his legacy lives on. We 1980s kids are now entrenched in the working world. But there are occasions when Ferris's lament - "How can anyone be expected to handle school on a day like this?" - still seems reasonable.