Top 5 Sloane Peterson Moments
By Bret Dorman
This week the Midnight Movie at Music Box Theatre was Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. A fantastic film if I do say so myself. This Top 5 will have Spoilers! for the movie, which if you haven’t seen you should just stop postponing and get to watching.
Normally, for the Midnight Movies, I watch a movie at the beginning of the week, so I can write the review for it. Then I watch it at Music Box, usually on Friday. This week, not only did I watch it once to write a review, and once at Music Box, I watched it a third time inbetween, with commentary by writer/director John Hughes.When you watch a movie several times, especially in a short time span you notice more and more about the movie. Movies don’t change everytime you watch them, unless they are STAR WARS (Damn you George Lucas!!!). It wasn’t until this recent string of Ferris Bueller watchings that I really took notice of Mia Sara.
I had an improv teacher who once described being in three person scenes as being meat, potatoes, and parsley. Generally speaking, one person is the meat, the person who drives the scene forward. One person is the potatoes, they react and are complimentary to the meat. These two roles can interchange at any point in the scene. In fact, any person can at any point become any ‘food’ in the scene. The trick is knowing what you are and playing that role. The parsley is there just for ‘flavor’ (I know you aren’t supposed to eat the parsley). The point is you want your three person scene to operate like a two person scene, there’s just extra flavor in there. Ferris Bueller operates on this level. Ferris is the meat. Cameron is the potatoes. And Sloane is the parsley.
In a way, her role could be written out. She’s the girlfriend to Ferris, but their romance is never fleshed out. This isn’t a romantic comedy. It’s a comedy. Straight up funny. No gushy stuff. To try and shoe horn a silly romance in there would be too much. And yet we still end their story with “He’s going to marry me.” Really? Are we really supposed to feel… moved… by this? Perhaps. Perhaps not. But you can’t get rid of Sloane because Mia Sara turns in one of the best supporting roles in a comedy I’ve ever seen.
Here are Mia Sara’s Top 5 moments in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off:
5) Consoling Cameron
Upon learning that the mileage is WAY more than they expected, Cameron goes ‘catatonic’. While the three are on the beach, trying to bring him back, Sloane consoles Cameron. I love how she gently runs her finger across his lower lip before lightly stroking his hair, brushing him in an almost maternal way.
Not only does she physically console Cameron, but notice the way she looks at him as they talk inbetween Ferris’ dance numbers. Cameron talks about his life and she lends the sympathetic ear that Ferris doesn’t. Usually when Ferris is listening to him he’s already planning out his next ‘move’, but Sloane actually listens. That’s something Cameron doesn’t get very often. As the song ‘Twist and Shout’ kicks up, Sloan gently brushes his shoulder and beckons him to join in on the fun.
You can almost imagine Cameron having a small crush on Sloane (the guilty way he childishly smirks after she asks if he saw her change). Can you blame him? She’s a great lady. I don’t know if she would make my Top 5 Film Crushes (which I have written!), but she certainly is mesmerizing, almost mysterious, and definitely sexy.
The way she console’s Cameron reflects her role as the emotional rock of the story, but she is Ferris’ girl and the way she says goodbye to him shows a little more…
4) Ferris’ Kiss
In the commentary with John Hughes, he notes how Sloane and Ferris have a ‘mature’ relationship. They don’t have the sense of urgency like most teen romances. But film is about showing, not telling, so how does Sloane show this?
The goodbye kiss. Ferris leans in, Sloane kisses back. But this isn’t a big kiss, where she passionately embraces him and the music swells. No. She lightly puts her hands on his shoulders. His shoulders. She leans in for the goodbye kiss but doesn’t need to overdo it. Just a nice, subtle, non-teen-urgent, (shoulder) touch.
3) Ferris’ Father’s Kiss
The three are in a cab, talking about their day so far. There is some tension between Ferris and Cameron about how much fun they’ve had exactly, until the tension is diverted to the passenger in the next cab over. Ferris’ dad. They had one previous near run-in at the restaurant. He looks over, looks back to his paper, before doing a double take. What does he see the second time, a sun glasses clad Sloane.
Sloane, showing some brass ones, not only acknowledges Mr. Bueller, but flirts with him. Using her feminine powers of seduction, she distracts him by simply mouthing ‘hi’ before puckering for a seductive kiss.
What makes this is the way she puckers, her upper lip doing most the work, her lower lip moving up just enough. They say when you kiss someone you use as many as 34 muscles. Here you can see Mia Sara in complete control of all of them. This kiss does NOT belong in a comedy. This is would be more at home in a film noir. This is a Femme Fatale kiss.
2) The ‘Car Confrontation’ Scene
Ferris and Cameron are the meat and potatoes of this movie. This is about their relationship. You could probably even argue Cameron is more of a protagonist than Ferris. Cameron goes through a bigger change and confrontation and learns more about himself. Ferris just kind of goofs off a lot. But he’s really good at it. He plans for everything. Everything. Except for maybe exactly how much Cameron reacts to the ‘odometer situation’. Ferris wants Cameron to grow some balls and be able to confront his dad. He states it several times (most explicitly on the beach). But he wasn’t expecting this.
Cameron, in the scene where he starts to kick his dad’s car and rant, is the meat of the scene. Want another food analogy? He is the cake. This is his moment. He does great. Ferris is the icing. His look of ‘what have I done?’ is priceless. This is in a way what the day has been building to, this conclusion. And there poor Sloane is, witness to Cameron’s dramatic downfall/rise. She is not the cake. She is not the icing. She is the cherry on top.
She tries to step in to interfere, but Ferris stops her. He knows this is something Cameron must do. Him stopping her is a nice touch, and its nice for her to give him that. Next she looks away, unable to bear it.
The Top 5 moment though comes after the car flies out the window and she looks back at Cameron. She ever-so-slightly shakes her head. That moment says it all. She has no words for him. What can she say? Even if there were words of comfort, they should come from Ferris. She doesn’t have anything to say and it’s not her moment to say it, but that look says everything she doesn’t and shouldn’t say.
1) The Snap
This whole Top 5 has been rather heavy. Ferris Bueller is a comedy, right? So far all I’ve done is over exaggerate the more emotional parts of this movie. Well luckily the Top Sloane moment comes in a rather silly throw away moment. But I’m still going to over exaggerate it.
After learning they are in the same restaurant as Ferris’ dad, they stand outside, right above him, as he rather obliviously continues his business with who ever he is doing business with. Ferris refuses to give up or cave in. Instead of waiting or sneaking out, they decide to take the dad’s cab. A challenge worthy of a war film. Ferris puts on his sunglasses and the two follow suit. Ferris snaps. Sloane snaps. Cameron snaps.
In this scene, Ferris is the cake. Cameron is the icing. And once again Sloane is the cherry on top. (Only the order they snap in makes this cake, cherry on top, icing, which doesn’t work but oh well, stop thinking about food so much, will ya?) Ferris throughout the entire movie is sort of playing a part. Here he is playing cool. Cameron is mocking the other two, reluctantly giving in to what they are about to do, but doing it anyway.
Sloane though… what is she to do? Play it cool? Play it mockingly? No. Even though snapping their fingers is silly and fun, as it should be in a comedy, when Mia snaps hers, it IS cool. Once again she knows her role. She is third wheel in this day off. She is the cherry on top in scenes. She is the parsley. And here she owns it.
Am I making too much of these moments? You could argue so. But let me put it this way. If you dedicate one entire viewing to only watching Mia Sara whenever she is in a scene, you could still be engaged AND enjoy Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. And in a supporting role, who spends most of her screen time with the two protagonists, that’s a tough feat to accomplish.
One the one hand you have Broderick and his boyish charm yet unbridled confidence. Alan Ruck delivers a very solid performance that is as moving as it is goofy. On the other you have Jeffrey Jones is a silly physical presence who’s misery gives us pleasure. Edie McClurg is a wonderful comedic relief as the naive yet charming Grace. There’s the endearing mother, clueless father, upset sister, and even Charlie Sheen. There’s a lot going for every person and in the middle of it all is Sloane.
Parsley. Cherry. It doesn’t matter what food you want to call it or whether or not you’re supposed to eat it, Mia Sara’s performance as Sloane is delicious. Mia doesn’t steal scenes in this movie, but she does enhance them without calling too much attention to herself. So I’ll call attention to her, for her.
Bravo Mia Sara… Bravo.