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At the Movies: ''Ferris Bueller's Day Off''
By BOB THOMAS, Associated Press Writer

Welcome again to John Hughesland, a mythical suburb where the parents are well-meaning but stupid, teachers are terminally dull and where the teen-agers are ingeniously deceptive, talk dirty but only kiss, drink beer but don't use hard drugs.

This fantasyland reappears as "Ferris Bueller's Day Off,"which Hughes wrote, directed an co-produced. He has become almost a one-man industry, having weaved five films in 2 1/2 years from memories of his suburban Chicago childhood. The others: "Sixteen Candles," "The Breakfast Club," "Weird Science" and "Pretty in Pink" which Howard Deutsch directed.

With "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," Hughes lurches perilously toward self-parody. The sight gags have grown bigger, but the characters and the situations seem overly familiar. The dialogue lacks the spontaneous sparkle that distinguished "The Breakfast Club." Matthew Broderick is Ferris Bueller, seemingly a goof-off but actually much smarter than his earnest but self-absorbed parents (Lyman Ward and Cindy Pickett). Only his tart-tongued sister (Jennifer Grey) sees through his elaborate devices to avoid attending high school. They include feigning a fever, planting an animated dummy in his bed and playing groaning sounds on the hi-fi.

Ferris cons his parents but not the dean of students (Jeffrey Jones), who tries to uncover the plot but only succeeds in getting into one mess after another.

The day off fulfills the boy's fantasies, such as they are. He convinces his pal Cameron (Alan Ruck) to steal his father's classic Ferrari and springs his girlfriend (Mia Sara) from school with the grandmother's funeral ruse. The three musketeers speed off to Chicago for a spree climaxed by Ferris's captivating thousands in a downtown street with his rock singing atop a parade float.

With total self-confidence, Ferris can outsmart any adult, including a haughty maitre d' at a posh restaurant (the funniest scene in the movie). His resources are limitless, and he peels off big bills like a Las Vegas high roller. Trouble is, Matthew Broderick is far too intelligent an actor to portray the mindless Bueller with total conviction.

Alan Ruck is something else. He has an angular body and the long, dopey face of a silent-screen clown. As Broderick's sometimes comatose buddy, he is the young find of the season, destined for a brilliant career with proper handling.

Jennifer Grey also registers strongly, as does Charlie Sheen as the doper she meets in a police station. The adults, especially Jeffrey Jones as the hapless dean of students, struggle bravely to escape from their cardboard roles.

Rated PG-13, mostly for language. Running time: 105 minutes.