Real talk, folks: Matthew Broderick is never going to get another role as good as the whip-smart, adorably sarcastic Ferris Bueller, the quintessential high school hero of the '80s. Broderick was perfectly cast in John Hughes' 1986 classic Ferris Bueller's Day Off in a role that required of him three key skills -- mischievous charisma, comedic timing, and that which he had in spades: boyish charm. He was so good, so epically iconic, that he pulled off shenanigan after shenanigan while wearing a leopard-print sweater vest, for goodness sake. And therein lies the rub; will Matthew Broderick ever chance upon another role as stars-aligning-in-the-heavens-perfect as that again?
My money says no, but it's not like Broderick hasn't enjoyed his fair share of great roles. My personal favorites came in The Early Years, when he appeared as a young hacker in WarGames (1983) and as Rutger Hauer's cute monk sidekick in the prog-rock period piece Ladyhawke (1985), two Oscar-nominated adventure films that fed my young girl-crush on the burgeoning actor.
After Ferris Bueller's Day Off debuted in the summer of 1986 and became a hit, Broderick seemed to turn towards more serious fare. He starred in the sometimes comic, sometimes very dark animal experimentation thriller Project X (1987) opposite Helen Hunt (also known as Aww, He's Friends With Monkeys!). In 1988, Broderick parlayed his newfound screen stardom into two films based on stage plays he'd starred in, Neil Simon's Biloxi Blues and Harvey Fierstein's Torch Song Trilogy, and then led the 54th Massachusetts Regiment in Ed Zwick's 1989 Oscar-winning Civil War film, Glory.