Sometimes the most entertaining thing about perusing art is following the metaphors, digging below the surface to find the art beneath the art.
Not that there's anything wrong with enjoying the surface.
Viewers will find that out on Wednesday. The Herald & Review is sponsoring a free viewing of 1986's classic comedy "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." The 7 p.m. showing at the Avon Theatre is free, although tickets are required. You can pick up tickets at the Herald & Review office at 601 E. William St. during business hours. Herald & Review members will get to pick their seats first.
Many in the audience will see a travelogue of 1980s Chicago, recognizing many of the locations. They'll hear a brief mention of Decatur, where Ferris' mother has traveled for the day.
Other viewers will be thrown onto a wave of nostalgia and think of a time when a quiet, low-budget PG-13-rated movie could become one of the highest-grossing films of the year. Maybe there will even be a few who are meeting Ferris for the first time.
Star Matthew Broderick leads a trio of attractive teens skipping school on the best day imaginable in the nation's third-largest city, writer-director John Hughes' love letter to Chicago. Stops during the film include the Art Institute of Chicago, the Willis (Sears) Tower, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, and Wrigley Field. How many of us have done all of those in one day? OK, maybe two? It's probably easier to count those who haven't.
And then there's the select group of scholars who see metaphors, depth and even existentialism in the film.
The amount of depth of study and thought given to the issue is startling. Even to someone who was once told, “You sure make a lot of work of enjoying a movie.”
There are theories that the Ferris character is a creation of his friend Cameron, that everything we see done by Ferris is actually his friend. There are theories that Ferris is a god created by Cameron. A fascinating area of thought suggests that “Jack” in “Fight Club” (the Edward Norton character) is Cameron grown up, and Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) is how Ferris has evolved.
To be fair, there's also a theory that “Ed Norton is playing the part of grown-up Calvin” with “Fight Club” serving as a sequel to the “Calvin and Hobbes” cartoon. So geek culture clearly capable of building fresh myths.
You don't have to see “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi” as a Vietnam metaphor. You don't have to see a zombie story as an allegory to the state of consumerism. You don't have to see “Groundhog Day” is based on Buddhism. You don't even have to see “Mother!” You might consider that a recommendation.
It's enough so see "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" as a 100-minute romp that will have you leaving the theater singing either “Danke Shane” or “Twist and Shout” and smiling at Ferris' benediction after the credits. The audience is even reminded the show is over, for real, as Ferris says to the camera with an almost weary wave of his hand: "It's over. Go home. Go."
But also keep in mind the movie has received significant praise from powerful critics. And five years ago, the film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
Along with “Groundhog Day.” “Fight Club” is still waiting.