Film: Ferris Bueller's Day Off
"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."Ferris Bueller's Day Off
— Ferris Bueller
is a 1986 teen comedy movie written and directed by the legendary John Hughes
. It's considered one of the best films of the eighties, and has been very influential.
The film follows Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick
), a senior in high school, who pretends to be sick and skips school for the day. He's able to convince his neurotic best friend Cameron and his carefree girlfriend Sloane to come along with him. The three of them take Cameron's father's prized car, heading out to Chicago to spend one more day together before graduation. However, his principal and his younger sister are hot on his trail, ready to prove that he's skipping school.
In 1990, a TV series based on the film began to air on NBC (which can now be viewed in its entirety
). Due to poor ratings, it was cancelled during its first season. Dueling show Parker Lewis Can't Lose
was its Spiritual Successor
(and some say was the real TV adaptation
Also happens to be movie critic Richard Roeper's favourite film.
This film provides examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Cameron has these.
- The Ace: Ferris has a bizarre, Mary Poppins-like ability to come out on top in any situation.
- Action Girl: Jeannie Bueller's reaction to facing a possible burglar/rapist (Actually Rooney, who just broke into the house to catch Ferris) in her kitchen? Kick him three times in the mouth and run all the way upstairs before he has even hit the ground.
- Ambiguously Jewish: Ferris and Jeannie were certainly not meant to be interpreted this way (their parents are as WASP-y as they come). But the fact is that they're both played by actors who both are Jewish and "look" very Jewish (until Jennifer Grey got her nose job, of course). The name "Bueller" is German, which could go either way.
- American Accents: The school secretary speaks in a delightful Minnesota/Wisconsin dialect.
- Angry Guard Dog: The Buellers' family Rottweiler.
- Angst Coma: Cameron, naturally.
- Anti-Hero: Ferris, the protagonist. He's a nice guy, but he lies to his parents so he can ditch school, and persuades Cameron to steal his dad's fancy car.
- Artistic License – Cars: The Ferrari. It has a back seat, while the real 250 GT Spyder California was a two seater, and the odometer is unable to turn back when put in reverse. The mechanism to prevent that was not mandated or even available until the 1970s, meaning the odometer on a 1961 model would roll back when driven in reverse.
- At the end, the rear wheels are lifted off the ground with nothing more than a bumper jack, instead of axle stands. This is a terrible idea, for the exact reason Cameron demonstrates.
- Aside Glance: Ferris' specialty.
- Batman Gambit / Crazy-Prepared: Ferris has his doorbell rigged to play a recorded message, just in case Rooney comes round...
- Not to mention the mannequin in bed and the snoring SFX. Ferris left no stone unturned in planning for his day off.
- Berserk Button: The car, for Cameron, who blows his gasket twice. Ferris lampshades the first incident.
Here's where Cameron goes berserk.
- Bifauxnen: Mr. Rooney finds who he believes is Ferris at the arcade, but turns out to be a girl (with some Pepsi).
- Book Ends: The movie starts and ends with Ferris in bed.
- Bowdlerization: The original script for the movie is quite a bit edgier than the finished film. Ferris was going to be a smoker, the gang was going to visit a local strip club, and (perhaps most crucially) Ferris was going to be revealed to have stolen money from his parents for his titular "day off." These ideas were dropped once John Hughes decided they would make the characters seem like juvenile delinquents, making this movie a good example of bowdlerization being for the better.
- In some TV edits of the film, Grace's infamous but hilarious line, "Mmm-mmm-mmm, what a little asshole" is replaced with "Mmm-mmm-mmm, motorhead."
- Brick Joke: At the beginning, we see Ferris preparing something with his trophy, and start singing "Danke Schoen." Later, we see that he has used his trophy in a Rube Goldberg device to deceive his parents, and even later, he sings Danke Schoen in one of the great scenes of the movie.
- Brief Accent Imitation: Cameron puts on a ridiculous "prep" accent when posing as Sloane's father on the phone. Since Sloane's family is quite rich, it's probably not too far-fetched that Rooney bought it (at least after he realized that Ferris was on Line 2).
- Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl: This is the dynamic Cameron and Sloane appear to have, despite not actually being a couple.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Ferris has regular asides and even conversations to the audience, not noticed by anyone else.
- Rooney also gives the audience a withering look at the very end.
- Brilliant but Lazy: If Ferris put half the effort into school that he puts into avoiding school...
- Butt Monkey / The Chew Toy: Rooney and Jeannie.
Sloane: Hi, Cameron. You comfortable?
Cameron: Hey, Sloane. No.
- California Doubling: Ferris' house is actually in Long Beach, California and the restaurant they go to is in West Hollywood.
- Can't Get Away with Nuthin' : Inverted with Ferris, played straight with Jeannie.
- Caught on the Jumbotron: Ferris catches a foul ball at Wrigley Field. It's shown on national TV, although Rooney looks at the television a second too late and misses seeing Ferris.
- Chekhov's Gun: The scene at the pizza parlour where Rooney mistakes a girl for Ferris; Ferris is actually on the TV in a baseball game, catching a baseball on camera. Much later (at the end of the movie) in order to turn off the snoring sound effects playing on his stereo while he's still in bed, he retrieves the baseball from his pocket and throws it at the stereo's "off" button.
- Chewing the Scenery: Cameron's Big "NO!"/ Berserk. Take it here for the deliciously bitten off scene!
- Central Theme: Taking chances.
- Cheshire Cat Grin: Cameron does one of these.
- Chicago: This is a 1980s John Hughes movie, after all.
- In the MAD parody, "Fearless Buller" mentions that he needs to stop at the Chicago Chamber of Commerce and pick up a check for turning the whole movie into a long travelogue for the city.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: The nerdy girl Rooney sits next to on the bus. She asks if he's ever smelled the inside of a real school bus before, and then offers him warm jellybears that she keeps in her pocket.
- Coming-of-Age Story: The film takes place toward the end of the kids' senior year. They talk about how their lives will soon be changing as they finish school and join the adult world. Cameron is really the only character we see change, however. Through the course of the story he goes from a depressed hypochondriac to a more assertive adult who plans on having it out with his emotionally distant father.
- Cool Car: "The 1961 Ferrari 250GT California.". The car featured in the film is actually a fibreglass replica based on an MGB, though a real one was used for extreme closeups at the beginning. Today, a real version would cost upwards of $10 million, almost the entire budget in 1986 dollars.
- Cool People Rebel Against Authority
- Cool Shades: Nope; the juxtaposition of stereotypical detective music and Rooney's sleazy character, combined with cheesy flip-up aviators clearly point out these are the least-cool shades in the movie.
- Creative Closing Credits
- Crowd Song: "Twist and Shout"
- Curse Cut Short: When Jeannie answers the door and there's a "nurse telegram".
I heard that you were feeling ill
Headache, fever and a chill
I've come to help restore your pluck
Cause I'm the nurse who likes to [door slams]
- Dean Bitterman: Rooney.
- Decoy Protagonist: Ferris. The fun of the movie is in watching Ferris's antics, but the point of the movie is Cameron's personal growth.
- Designated Love Interest: Sloane
- Devil in Plain Sight: Ferris.
- Distracted by the Sexy: Ferris might have only five minutes to run home from Sloane's, but that doesn't mean he won't stop to flirt with a couple of swimsuit-clad blondes.
- Eek, a Mouse!!: Averted when Ferris threatens to do this in the restaurant.
- The Eighties: One critic on the Internet Movie Database hails this film as a superb distillation of "the decade of grim optimism."
- '80s Hair: and clothes, and music.
- Environmental Symbolism: A very subtle one that you probably won't notice on first watch. In the glass that Sloan is pulled out of, the teacher is discussing prison in fiction, and the background behind Sloan is patterned in vertical stripes; that is, prison-like bars.
- Erudite Stoner: Charlie Sheen's One Scene at the police station. He nails Jean's problem in less than a minute, and is halfway towards nailing her when her mother shows up.
- Everything Is an Instrument: Ferris uses his sound synthesizer, which had coughing noises on it, to play "The Blue Danube".
- Truth in Television: Casio had a very popular line of sampling MIDI keyboards in The Eighties. Many a kid's first experiment with sampling consisted of belches.
- Evil Gloating: (when Ferris tries to sneak in the back door but discovers the key is missing from under the mat)
Rooney: Looking for this? I got ya, Ferris. I have dreamed about this, and this time, you little bastard, I've got you right where I want you. So, how would you feel about another year at my school? Under my close personal supervision?
- Extremely Short Timespan: The whole movie takes place over the course of a day.
- Follow the Leader: After this movie became hugely successful, many teen shows throughout the next decade or so (particularly those aimed at children) implemented a Ferris Bueller-like character (i.e. Zack Morris from Saved by the Bell, Ronnie Pinsky from Salute Your Shorts, Parker Lewis from Parker Lewis Can't Lose, etc.). Some of these were just shallow/one-dimensional caricatures of Ferris; others weren't.
- For the Lulz: Why Ferris does anything. Ferris says he's doing it to give Cameron a fun day.
- French Cuisine Is Haughty: The upscale French restaurant that Ferris and company visit has the requisite snooty maître d’. Also parodied, in that the restaurant is named Chez Quis, as a pun on the pizza chain Shakey's.
- Freudian Trio: Ferris (id), Sloane (ego), Cameron (superego).
- Funny Background Event: When they go to pick up Cameron's dad's 1961 Ferrari 250GT California at the end of the day, they stand outside the parking garage talking...while, in the corner of the screen, we see the garage attendants bringing the car in through a different entrance after having spent the day joyriding in it.
- You can also see the car pulling out of the garage right after the gang has dropped it off, and the second attendant jumps in and shouts "Go! Go!"
- Audio example: Earlier in the film, when Ed waits for Sloan's "father" to pick her up, the action is briefly shot from inside the school, where the economics teacher (Ben Stein) is still heard droning on and on.
- Fun with Subtitles: when Ferris is explaining to the camera the best way to fake an illness to get out of school.
- The Ghost: Morris Frye (Cameron's dad), as well as Abe Frohman, Sausage King of Chicago.
- Gossip Evolution: The reports of Ferris' "illness" grow more and more dire as the school day wears on. "Save Ferris!"
- Gossipy Hens: Simone Adamley. Grace (Rooney's secretary) is also a bit of this.
- Gratuitous French: "Les jeux sont faits."note
- Grey and Gray Morality: Ferris is a con artist without much empathy for other people(or at least a warped sense of empathy that sees manipulation as compassion), and Rooney is on a personal vendetta that involves assaulting a student's dog. Neither of them are particularly great people.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Jeannie is jealous of the fact that Ferris can do whatever he wants, and get away with it, while she ends up getting in trouble for something she didn't even do.
- Harpo Does Something Funny: Ben Stein originally only had his iconic "Bueller......Bueller" scene, but the director thought he had such distinctive voice that he asked Stein to just talk about any subject he knew a lot about, which led to the short scene of him teaching a class on the Great Depression.
- Heel-Face Turn: When Rooney finally nails Ferris at the end, it's Jeannie of all people who bails him out.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Ferris and Cameron, possibly. They've been best friends since at least the fifth grade, and when Ferris's girlfriend jumps into the car with him she looks down where Cameron is crouched and says cheerfully, "Hi, Cameron, are you comfortable?" as if this sort of thing has happened before. ("Hi, Sloane, no.")
- Hero Antagonist: Rooney.
- Heroic BSOD: Cameron undergoes one when, after thinking that maybe things won't go so bad after all, and maybe he's just being a worry wart, he notices the "slightly" increased mileage on the odometer on his dad's car, and proceeds to go catatonic.
- High School Hustler: Ferris, naturally.
- Humiliation Conga: The entire film is one for Rooney.
- Impairment Shot: Despite the fact that the audience knows Ferris is faking, Jeannie knows Ferris is faking, and Ferris is lampshading that Jeannie knows Ferris is faking — the camera still gives an out of focus view of Jeannie as she walks in to complain their parents are letting Ferris stay home.
- Innocent Blue Eyes: Cameron. Sad, sweet, and so, so beautiful that John Hughes saw fit to give them a cameo in the museum scene.
- Insert Cameo: In Cameron's first scene, we see his hand press a button on his speakerphone. The hand was actually that of John Hughes; Alan Ruck didn't get the movement quite right, so Hughes did it himself after everyone else had left for the day.
- Inspector Javert/Lawful Stupid: Dean Rooney. Say what you will about Ferris being manipulative, but dropping a flowerpot on a dog's head and breaking into a student's house is taking things too far.
- Invisible Backup Band: "When Cameron was in Egypt's land ... let my Cameron goooooooo!"
- Iris Out: What ends the movie... before Ferris telling the audience to go home.
- It's All About Me: "They could be fascist anarchists and that still wouldn't change the fact that I don't have a car."
- Jerk Ass: Rooney and Jeannie.
Jeannie: Do you know anything? [hangs up phone]
- Jerkass Has a Point / Villain Has a Point: Yes, Rooney goes too far by breaking into the Bueller home and attacking their dog, but he has every right to be bothered by the fact that Ferris has skipped school at least nine times before.
- Also, Jeannie gets arrested by the police for making a legitimate call about an actual intruder in her house.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Ferris is pretty much this. He's manipulative and keeps pressuring Cameron into doing things he doesn't want to do, among other things, but he genuinely believes he's helping Cameron by forcing him to have fun with him on their day off and does feel bad when Cameron kicks the car over the glass, even offering to take the blame for it.
- Karma Houdini: Ferris himself, as he never gets caught by his parents or punished by Dean Rooney.
- Large Ham: Del Close as Sloane's teacher really tries his best to engage a terrifyingly apathetic class.
- Last of His Kind: Along with Pretty in Pink, which was released in the same year, and Some Kind of Wonderful, which was released a year later, this film pretty much marked the end of an era for John Hughes. After making those three films, Hughes decided that it was time for him to grow up cinematically, and thus he began cranking out films that were more oriented towards adults, such as Planes Trains And Automobiles, She's Having a Baby, and The Great Outdoors.
- Leitmotif: It's kind of a subtle hint to the author's intentions when the sidekick, not the title character, gets his own theme music.
- Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: Kind, innocent Sloane (light) and rude, sassy Jeannie (dark).
- Listing The Forms Of Degenerates: Edie "Grace" McClurg's line...
Oh, he's very popular Ed. The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads - they all adore him. They think he's a righteous dude.
- Literal-Minded: Grace
Ed Rooney: I don't trust this kid any further than I can throw him.
Grace: Well, with your bad knee Ed, you shouldn't throw anybody... It's true.
- Lovable Rogue: Ferris.
- Love Triangle: Does Cameron have a crush on Sloane or not?
- Lucky Bastard: Ferris has come within a hair's breadth of being caught many times, and only escapes through dumb luck.
- Manic Pixie Dream Boy: He does get Cameron to finally stand up for himself.
- Meaningful Name: With Ferris, every day is a carnival.
- Michael Jackson's "Thriller" Parody: During the "Twist & Shout" dance sequence a group of Afro-American people are seen dancing in a similar style.
- Monochrome Casting: As was ever the case with John Hughes films.
- Mood Whiplash: Despite being a pinhead, Grace acts differently around Jeannie.
- Naughty Nurse Outfit: The singing nurse. Justified in that she is a performer, and is supposed to dress according to this trope, not reality.
- Nice to the Waiter: Inverted at Chez Quis, moreso after Ferris pulls off the trick, and partially justified as the maitre'd is a bit of a French Jerk (well, at least, it's a French restaurant). To be fair, Ferris started by trying to be nice, but that got nowhere.
- Subverted with the parking lot staff. Ferris attempts to treat them well to get special treatment for the car, and they go and do the exact opposite.
- Though perhaps they were just as insulted at being slipped a mere "fin" as the maitre d' was.
- Played straight with the Chez Quis bathroom attendant. Ferris slips him a nice tip, and the attendant gives him a very happy thank you.
- No Fourth Wall: Only for Ferris, anyway. Sloane doesn't even notice that he's talking to the audience.
- Non-Giving-Up School Guy: Rooney. It's a bit of a Deconstructed Trope though, since his single-minded mission to bring back Ferris led him to commit things like breaking and entering.
- Not So Different: Partially the reason for Jeannie's Heel-Face Turn is that she sees how trashed and tarnished Rooney is from pursuing Ferris and trying to catch him. It shows that if she kept pursuing the matter further, she could get in worse trouble.
- Obviously Evil: The parking attendant who took Cameron's car for a joyride.
Please, I'm a professional.
- Oh, Crap: Rooney, when Grace tells him that Ferris is on Line 2.
- Also when he confronts "Ferris" in the pizza parlor, but actually a short-haired girl. Enjoy your Pepsi, Ed!
- Ferris, when Rooney confronts him.
- Again Rooney, when Jeannie produces his wallet.
- Cameron, and to a lesser extent Ferris and Sloane, when the car gets kicked off the stand.
- One Ferris Limit
- Ordinary High-School Student
- Overly-Long Scream with The Scream: Cameron going berzerk.
- Pietà Plagiarism: The pool rescue.
- Playing Sick
- Police Are Useless: They arrest Jeannie when she calls to report a "prowler" in her home and they find no one there. Perhaps they are suspicious since she's skipping school, but a halfhearted search would have immediately turned up Rooney's wallet...
Jeannie: SPEAK-A DE ENGLISH?! (slams phone down) DICK-HEAD!
- Poster-Gallery Bedroom
- The Precious, Precious Car: Take a guess.
- Precision F-Strike: During the Angry Guard Dog scene.
- Properly Paranoid: Cameron's fears in leaving the 1961 Ferrari 250GT California at the garage come true when the attendants take it on a joyride.
- Also Rooney, about Ferris.
- Protagonist Centred Morality.
- Recursive Canon: In the sitcom, the movie is considered a fictionalized version of Ferris' "real" life.
- Refuge in Audacity: Invoked by Bueller in the restaurant. When the waiter calls his bluff, the only way to make his "crime" work is to make it so hilariously ostentatious as to leave the waiter dumbfounded.
- The rest of the movie runs on this trope as well, since it's funny.
- Running Gag: "Save Ferris." Also, people singing "Danke Schoen."
- Sadist Teacher: Rooney. Technically he's a dean, but still hits the same notes.
- School Idol: Ferris is the definitive Western example.
- The Scream: Cameron does one of these.
Ferris: Here's where Cameron goes berserk.
- Scream Discretion Shot: Combined with a Skyward Scream to intensify Cameron's reaction to the high mileage count on his father's car.
- Screen-to-Stage Adaptation: Believe it or not, a few have been created, mainly by high-school drama departments. Here's a clip from one.
- Selective Enforcement: Jeannie is a victim of this from her and Ferris' parents, who seem completely oblivious to Ferris' antics.
- Self-Inflicted Hell: A lot of what Jeannie does to herself. Among other things she's ticked about why people seem to love Ferris and hate her... while Ferris treats everyone like his closest friend and she treats them all like dirt.
- Shave And A Haircut: A florist truck continually blows its horn at Rooney, trying to get him to move out of Ferris' driveway. The flower deliveryman playfully honks the first five notes of "Shave And A Haircut", and Rooney gives the driver the finger in time to the last two notes.
- Shout-Out: The Beatles receive several.
- Ferris has a Cabaret Voltaire poster in his room.
- The Star Wars theme blares as the Ferrari flies over the camera, similar to the opening shot of the Star Destroyer.
- the fancy French restaurant looks like the same layout as the one in The Blues Brothers
- The scene in The Blues Brothers was filmed at famous (at the time; it's since been closed) Chicago restaurant Chez Paul. The one used in this film was designed to look similar, since it is also based in Chicago.
- Also, the dance sequence at the end of the Parade Scene was taken from the people dancing in front of Ray's Music Exchange
- When Cameron "Goes Berserk", the same statues seen when the Blues Mobile falls apart are shown again.
- Shrinking Violet: Cameron.
- Sleeping Dummy: Ferris uses a very elaborate version of this.
- Slo-Mo Big Air: Parodied with the garage attendants joyride.
- And more famously with Ferris leaping over obstacles in his last dash home.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Ed Rooney
- Smug Smiler/Slasher Smile: Ferris in the movie posters◊
- Society Marches On: A school administrator sees one of his students sucking face with someone he believes to be her own father, and dismisses it as unimportant?
Rooney: So that's how it is in their family...
- Spirited Young Lady: Sloane.
- Spoiled Sweet: Sloane, again. Ferris is an extremely debatable case.
- Staggered Zoom: adapted for the gratuitous detail shots of Seurat's Sunday Afternoon
- Stealth Pun: "Chez Quis" pronouced aloud is "Shakey's"
- The Stinger: Rooney getting picked up by the school bus during the end credits.
- Supporting Protagonist: Cameron is the character who experiences the most development.
- Taking the Heat: Ferris offers to do this for Cameron, who's just destroyed his father's Ferrari. Cameron refuses.
- That's All, Folks!: At the very end, Ferris asks the audience why they are still watching when the movie has ended.
- To see if he'd do something funny, of course! And he did!
- This Is the Part Where...
- ¡Three Amigos!: Ferris, Cameron and Sloane.
- Throw the Dog a Bone: When Grace mentions that Rooney sounded like Dirty Harry, he was actually taken aback by it. Even following with a Clint Squint, before thanking her.
- Time Stands Still: Inverted for Ferris, whose landing off the trampoline is in excruciatingly slow motion, meanwhile Jeannie is racing home and rushing into the house in real time.
- Totally Radical: Grace, Principal Ed's secretary, attempting to explain popular perception of Ferris, says "The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads - they all adore him. They think he's a righteous dude."
- The Un Favourite: Jeannie.
- Vanity License Plate: The 1961 Ferrari 250GT California's plates say "NRVOUS". Seems appropriate for the situation.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Cameron and Ferris.
- Watch the Paint Job: The 1961 Ferrari 250GT California.
Cameron: It is his love... It is his passion...
Ferris: It is his fault he didn't lock the garage.
- What Are You in For?:
"Thank you, no, I'm straight."
- What Happened to the Mouse?: It's a good thing the real Abe Frohman never showed up to claim his reservation...
- Wise Beyond Their Years: Ferris.
- Xanatos Speed Chess: Ferris is a master of this (show only).
- You Don't Want to Catch This: Jeannie, thinking that Rooney is an intruder and fearing for her virtue, tells him via intercom that she has her father's gun and "a scorching case of herpes."