F is for Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. 1986. A slightly baffling 7.9 stars on IMDb.

Another of John Hughes’ movies, coming after The Breakfast Club and cementing his place in my favourite directors list.

Ferris Bueller, you’re my hero.
~ Cameron

I love this film so much. I’m pretty sure my VHS copy was worn thin with constant replays. I could (and do) watch it again at the drop of a hat and still absolutely adore it, and can probably quote 90% of it verbatim.

As with all of John Hughes’s films, the characters are wonderful. Cameron Frye (Alan Ruck) as Ferris’s buddy the world-weary teenager. Matthew Broderick as Ferris the smart-arse, wise-cracking kid who everyone should hate for being such a cocky little so-and-so, but who everyone loves. And of course the lovely Mia Sara as Sloane (who I must confess to a MAJOR crush on. Who didn’t?)

But all the others are brilliant too, from the utterly slimy, creepy Ed Rooney (Jeffrey Jones on top form) and Ferris’s sister Jeanie (Jennifer Grey before she hit the big time with Dirty Dancing a year later), and even Charlie Sheen in a lovely little cameo.

It’s Matthew Broderick who steals the show as Ferris, of course. Frequently turning to camera to break the fourth wall, he takes us through his day off, from perusading his parents that he’s really sick:

The key to faking out the parents is the clammy hands. It’s a good non-specific symptom; I’m a big believer in it. A lot of people will tell you that a good phony fever is a dead lock, but, uh… you get a nervous mother, you could wind up in a doctor’s office. That’s worse than school. You fake a stomach cramp, and when you’re bent over, moaning and wailing, you lick your palms. It’s a little childish and stupid, but then, so is high school.

to persuading Cameron to let them borrow his father’s beloved 1961 Ferrari 250GT California. Less than a hundred were ever made, you know?
(The interior shots of the Ferrari were all done in a real 250 GT California, but all the others were replicas.)

Cameron: My father spent three years restoring this car. It is his love, it is his passion.
Ferris: It is his fault he didn’t lock the garage.

Hijinks, naturally, ensue as Ferris, Cameron and Sloane take to the streets of Chicago in Hughes’ homage to his favourite city, Chicago. The trio take in a ball game at Wrigley Field, have a fancy lunch, visit the Sears Tower, the Art Institute (a lovely scene where the three of them are engrossed in Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte) and finish up with Ferris taking centre stage in a performance of Twist & Shout as part of a parade. Ferris and the gang return home, Bad Things happen to that beautiful car, Cameron stands up to his dad and we have a happy ending. All that is, apart from Ed. Poor Ed.

It’s utterly bonkers, but utterly wonderful. To paraphrase Ferris, I highly recommend picking it up.

Right, time for some trivia. Tom Skerrit (Dallas in Alien) and Paul Gleason (Mr Vernon from The Breakfast Club) were considered for the role of Ed Rooney – see? I told you I like to link these things up!

I’ll leave you with one final thought – something I came across recently deep in the murky depths of the interwebs. Could Ferris Bueller be a figment of Cameron’s imagination? This would turn Ferris Bueller into a Brat-pack version of Fight Club…

One day while he’s lying sick in bed, Cameron lets “Ferris” steal his father’s car and take the day off, and as Cameron wanders around the city, all of his interactions with Ferris and Sloane, and all the impossible hijinks, are all just played out in his head. This is part of the reason why the “three” characters can see so much of Chicago in less than one day — Cameron is alone, just imagining it all.

It isn’t until he destroys the front of the car in a fugue state does he finally get a grip and decide to confront his father, after which he imagines a final, impossible escape for Ferris and a storybook happy ending for Sloane (“He’s gonna marry me!”), the girl that Cameron knows he can never have.

Mind. Blown. I need to go rewatch the movie. And so do you. After all:

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

previously, on The A-Z Challenge
A is for Alien
B is for The Breakfast Club
C is for Catching Fire
D is for Die Hard
E is for The Empire Strikes Bank

Author: dave

Book reviewer, occasional writer, photographer, coffee-lover, cyclist, spoon carver and stationery geek.

26 thoughts on “F is for Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”

  1. I can’t admit to being obsesses with this movie, but it doesn’t stop me from wanting to watch it time and again. Thanks for the reminder and the connections 😛

  2. Ferris Bueller is one of those movies I have never seen all the way through but I know more than I should due to constant references in The Simpsons, Family Guy etc. Strange how certain movies you ‘know’ despite never actually watching them

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