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Ferris Bueller returns with a Honda attitude

FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF, Alan Ruck, Mia Sara and Matthew Broderick.

©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Col

For fans of Ferris Bueller's spirited high jinks, there is perhaps a no more depressing thought than a middle-aged Ferris trading in his borrowed vintage Ferrari for a compact SUV targeted to moms.

But while Honda's just-released Super Bowl ad does not actually feature Ferris – or answer the question of whether he ever managed to authentically inherit the title "The Sausage King of Chicago" – as a teaser last week suggested it might, Honda has paid up for the next best thing. A grown-up Matthew Broderick has agreed to pay homage to some of the most famous scenes from the movie, Ferris Bueller's Day Off. It's all in the service of shilling for the newest model of Honda's popular crossover, the CR-V .

In a Super Bowl season positively glutted with automobile commercials, auto makers are doing everything they can to stand out. It's no longer enough for advertisers to spend millions for less TV airtime than it would take to nuke a bag of microwave popcorn. There is now a well-established tradition of releasing their buzzed-about campaigns in advance of the big game, online – not to mention sneak previews of those early release ads. Volkswagen has done this with its "Bark Side" commercial and Honda, under a then-anonymous YouTube account released a teaser for the Ferris-themed ad last week. With movie studios on the list of Super Bowl advertisers, it stoked rumours of a possible sequel. (For purists, surely that would be unthinkable without writer-director John Hughes, who died in 2009.)

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Instead, actor Matthew Broderick plays hooky from a film set. While Ferris tooled around Chicago with his best friend Cameron and comely girlfriend Sloane Peterson in Cameron's dad's 1961 Ferrari 250GT California, Mr. Broderick engages in a series of similar activities (going to the museum, crashing a parade, taking in a sporting event) by himself, in a car he ostensibly owns. The mischief quotient is, shall we say, somewhat diminished. The key for Honda is whether Ferris fans – whose class-ditching days, for the most part, are well behind them and who are more likely to be shopping for sensible family vehicles than sports cars they love more than life itself – will warm up to the nostalgia.

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