John Hughes’s immortal classic Ferris Bueller’s Day Off began the fifth season of Jason Reitman’s beloved live read series last week at LACMA here in Los Angeles. Presented by Film Independent, the series has featured well-known actors reading iconic scripts, included Reservoir Dogs, The Princess Bride, and Ghostbusters to name a few. And while Reitman’s selections have never shied away from being ambitious, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off felt like it was going to be a tall order to fill. The movie is so unique, featuring the perfectly cast actors in each of the roles. How do you fill Matthew Broderick’s high school sneakers when the guy was basically born to play that part?
But that’s the beauty of the live read series: sometimes you see the spin that other actors would have put on iconic roles like Jay Baruchel reading Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate or Ellen Page reading Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back. Sometimes the original screenplay–complete with scenes, lines, and even characters that didn’t make it to the final cut–gets a chance to really shine. With last week’s season five opener, it was both of those things and more.
Fred Savage read the role of Ferris while Martin Starr read Cameron and Catherine Reitman was Sloane. Friend of Nerdist Clark Gregg was Edward Rooney while the hilarious Michaela Watkins played his secretarial counterpart. Side note here, I was doubled over with laughter at the two of them together during the scene where “Mr. Peterson” calls Rooney’s office about Sloane’s grandmother. Watkins delivered those lines with a perfect silliness of a truly gifted comedienne. Live read alum Mae Whitman played Jeannie Bueller and surprise guest James Van Der Beek took the stage to take over Charlie Sheen’s police station bad boy. Rounding out the cast was Richard Speight Jr. delivering the famous “Bueller. Bueller. Bueller.” line.
For fans of the movie, it was amazing to see the differences between the first script and the one that made it to screen. Ferris was far more political in the first draft and had two additional siblings that didn’t make the cut. He stole money and was a little more rebellious than Broderick’s mostly quirky teenager. But the energy, wisdom, and sensitivity of the work are what stood out the most to me. Much like Ferris, there was something that John Hughes seemed to get about life and death, teenagers and adults, and it was all captured there on the page.
It was clear, though, that everyone on the stage was not only a fan of the material but of each other. They even actually sang and danced to “Twist and Shout,” Savage playing to the crowd and eventually running through it, leaping onto the audience chairs, getting us all to sing along. The rest of the cast danced, clapped, and sang, too, and it was safe to say that the energy of Ferris’s day off was infectious almost thirty years later.
If you ever get the opportunity to take in a part of the Film Independent live read series, take it. Each event is a perfect combination of fandom and appreciation for the magic of the movies.
Featured Image Credit: MZ09 via deviantART
Live Read Image Credit: Wire Image