"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."
— Ferris Bueller
Ferris Bueller's Day Off 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 viewedin its entirety on YouTube). Due to poor ratings, it was cancelled during its first season. Dueling showParker 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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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 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.
Environmental Symbolism: A very subtle one that you probably won't notice on first watch. In the class 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.
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?
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.
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.
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.")
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.
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.
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.
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 class, 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
If mobile phones were as widespread then as they are today, it'd be harder for Ferris to bluff his parents if he could be contacted anytime, anywhere.
It would have been a lot harder for Ferris to pretend to be Abe Frohman, the Sausage King of Chicago, since the real Abe Frohman would most likely have a webpage either for himself or for his company today complete with at least one photograph of himself.
A video of Ferris dancing on the parade float would have most likely made its way to Youtube today, and the jig would be up.
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!
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."