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Headscratchers / Ferris Bueller's Day Off

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  • As pointed out by Dr. Insano, why the heck did Ferris convince Cameron to "borrow" the Ferrari if he was just going to leave it in a parking deck all day? Even if you accept the idea that he didn't want to rack up the mileage, then why didn't they just use a taxi instead?
    • Because they'd actually have to PAY for a taxi from the 'burbs into downtown Chicago, and it would be pretty pricey. Not something Ferris could easy charm his way out of.
    • Because Ferris follows only one rule: the Rule of Cool.
    • Or because he's a manipulative psychopath who's just curious about how far he can tip his "friend" with emotional leverage?
    • Ferris planned the day the same way Indiana Jones plans his. He needs a nice car, so he gets a nice car. He has a nice car, so he drives it in to the city. He's in the city, so he visits some attractions. He doesn't know what he's going to do next, so he just goes with the flow.
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    • .... No, they actually explain this in the movie. Before they can do to the city, they have to pick up Ferris's girlfriend, and they have to do it with Rooney right there, expecting her dad. Since her dad is apparently a very wealthy, influential person, he'd drive a sweet car, so Ferris needed to borrow the Ferrari to fool Rooney into thinking it was him. The plan was to bring the car back when they were done, but he was enjoying it too much.
    • It's a bit of both: he wanted to see if Cameron would let him take it, and came up with "piece of shit" rationale when Cameron tried to resist. And he did that because it's a sweet-ass Ferrari.
    • Although this is perhaps more of a Doylist answer than a Watsonian one, I think that Ferris's putting the car in that garage is the film's way of telling us that his motives are at least partially sincere. If he had no real concern for his sick friend at all and just brought him along so he could joy ride in the family's cool car then he would have done so, or tried to. The parking confirms that the car was just a cool bonus and not the real, primary motive.
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    • Still, why the Ferrari? Nobody in their right mind would use it as a daily driver. You could probably rationalise not using Cameron's Alfa Romeo because "Mr. Rooney would recognise it", but there's also a less-distinctive Mercedes-Benz 300 in the garage as well. By choosing such a distinctive car, which Mr. Rooney has now seen and admired, it's inevitably going to cause a situation where Mr. Rooney says to Mr. Petersen at parent/teacher night "How's your Ferrari going?" or "Again, I'm sorry about the loss of Sloane's grandmother. I didn't know it was you", to which Mr. Petersen is going to reply "Yeah, I wish I had a Ferrari" or "What are you talking about? Her grandmother is still alive. And what was me?".
    • Also, if Cameron's father never drives the Ferrari and doesn't allow anyone else to even touch it, why does it have fuel in the display room?
      • You have to run cars occasionally to keep them in functioning order. Some of the mileage is probably from Cameron's father doing that.
      • Ferris also mentions (during his aside at Chez Quis in the restroom) that he's caught Cameron sneaking rides in it.
      • Negatory, he says he caught Cameron digging the ride they were on a few times.
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    • He never planned on parking it in a garage. Cameron was getting really stressed out over driving it around Chicago, so Ferris comes up with the idea to park it then and there, and take a taxi when they need to get around instead. His original plan was to drive around Chicago in the Ferrari.
  • Noah points out another piece of Fridge Logic in the audio commentary for the Insano review - what happens the next day when Ferris shows up to school, not dying of a terminal illness? He observes that most people in the same situation would get lynched, but says Ferris could probably laugh his way out of it.
    • He never said he was terminally ill. He never even IMPLIED it. That was just a stupid rumor that got spread. Also, I don't think he went to school the next day either. In fact I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't show up again, given the climax.
      • No, he explicitly says that he thinks he needs a kidney transplant when talking on the phone to his classmates.
    • I always assumed it takes place on a Friday. It really seems like a Friday, doesn't it?
    • Exact words: He said that he thinks he needs a kidney transplant, not that he definitely would. He can fully explain away why he wouldn't, such as "food poisoning".
    • Also, he could pretty easily pass the "kidney transplant" as a joke: "Haha, you guys took me seriously? I was kidding!"
    • Or he could've simply said "Eh, you know how it is when you get sick. You're always afraid it's more serious than it actually is."

    • Let's not overlook the most important detail: he was talking to a freshman. All he has to do is deny he ever said it, and nobody will believe the kid over Ferris Bueller.
    • The Braves-Cubs game they go to happened June 5, 1985 (which was a Wednesday), which would have been about two weeks from graduation, so it's not like he'd be going to there for much longer.
      • Turns out it wasn't, it was late September 1985.
  • What happened to the real Abe Froman?
    • He was outside the restaurant, with Ferris' dad, just as they left.
    • Ferris is shown looking at the reservations list when he picks out Abe Frohman's name. He probably picked out someone who hadn't arrived but was five or ten minutes late. It's one of his standard off-the-cuff ploys... it has just enough safety to make going through with it non-suicidal (if he's five or ten minutes late he's probably going to be a lot more late or not show up at all), and just enough risk to keep it fun.
      • Well, if he wanted Cameron and Sloan to believe that it was all spontaneous, then he'd have to look at the book so they'd know where he supposedly got the name from. He could still be the one who made the reservation. And since Abe doesn't show up, I'd say this is actually plausible.
    • Ferris checked the reservation book, and he had to make sure it was someone for a party of three. Abe Frohman had a reservation for three people next to his name - and Abe was with Ferris' father outside the restaurant; we hear Mr Bueller say "Abe" as they get into the taxi.
  • OK, so the main characters visit downtown Chicago. And there's a huge culture festival/parade going on in the middle of a weekday? We know it's not a holiday or weekend because school is in session. But if it's during the week, shouldn't all the people in the crowd also be at work or in school?
    • Maybe it's a week-long thing?
    • If I recall, that was actually a fluke. The parade/festival was going on while they were shooting, so they decided to work it in.
      • The Real Life parade was the Von Steuben's Day parade, which falls in mid-September.note 
    • Consider that June 5 (the purported day of the movie) is the Feast Day of St. Boniface... the patron Saint of Germania. It's pretty thin, sure...
      • It's actually not June 5. The Cubs game was filmed in late September.

  • We all know that Ferris is audacious, but he was downright stupid during the parade scene. He's standing in the middle of a float, hundreds if not thousands of Chicagoans are on hand to watch, the whole thing's almost certainly being broadcast on local television....and Ferris isn't even wearing a mask (which wouldn't raise any suspicions, due to the parade's carnival-like atmosphere)! Sure, I know it's a big city - but what if one of Ferris's schoolmates came home and saw their parents watching footage of the parade on the evening news?
    • Well, that's assuming any of the news cameras cared enough about what he was doing to zoom in. Can you pick out a schoolmate's face from hundreds of feet away?
    • Considering the fact that the entire parade has broken out in a fit of dancing thanks to this kid on the lead float, I'm sure news cameras would zoom in on him, and the fact that Ferris Bueller has garnered a near prophet-like status in his hometown ("Save Ferris" anyone?), it's not far off to think that more than one person would recognize him.
      • Fridge Brilliance, actually. Ferris is so prophet-like that it wouldn't be unusual for someone to make a Ferris mask and wear it. As a culture festival, it would be even more likely. And then there's that even if people DID recognize him, there's that they would probably realize he was faking being sick and cover for him.
      • I don't think a Ferris mask could look quite so lifelike as the real Ferris...
      • Again, distance from the cameras — as well as 1980s television sets. You ever watched television footage from back then on a CRT screen smaller than 27 inches or so? Because that's what everyone would have seen.
      • The bit with the parade could be seen as Ferris showing his sincerity about giving Cameron a good time. He wanted to do something so audacious and over-the-top that Cameron would absolutely never forget "The time we all skipped school and went to town and Ferris got up on a parade float and sang". In that moment he cared more about Cameron seeing something unforgettable and awesome than he did about getting caught.
      • Cameron and Sloane also tell him exactly this. That he's crazy for going on to the parade float and that he's so nailed as a result. Ferris blows it off by saying "who cares, who am I (to the spectators)?
      • Uh, Ferris didn't start the parade, it was already in progress. In fact, it wasn't even scripted. There just happened to be a parade going on during filming.
      • It wasn't in the original screenplay, but once the movie was greenlit and they started planning shooting dates, they realised that the parade would be happening at the same time and so they chose to incorporate it. It's not as if they rocked up to start shooting one morning, discovered that there was a parade happening that day, and decided to go with it on the spur of the moment.
  • Why didn't Jeannie give the police Rooney's wallet? After she kicks the crap out of him, you see his wallet drop out of his pants to the floor. At the end of the movie when she saves her brother's ass, you see her take Rooney's wallet out and fling it in the mud. Why in the hell didn't she give it to the police when they came? Also, another one: Why the hell did the police arrest her for calling them? She was obviously hysterical, so why would they assume it was a joke?
    • There actually was no scene where she found the wallet, or even enters the kitchen, until the end of the film. It's likely that she didn't find it until after they got home.
    • In real life, 911 can and has reprimanded kids for making emergency calls when the situation was serious, only for them to find out the kid was really telling the truth. It's resulted in at least one death because they didn't take the kid seriously. At least in this case, they sent out someone to check for Jeanne.
    • She was also skipping school herself by this point. When they got there, she probably had no good explanation for why she just happened to be there at the same time there just happened to be a prowler (who they found no evidence of). The cops probably assumed she was on drugs, had hysterically called them while experiencing a bad trip, and hauled her in for testing (using the false alarm as an reason to do so). When she tested clean, they just gave her a reprimand and called her mom to pick her up.
    • Though one wonders what she could have gotten away with if she just said "Ferris suddenly felt a bit worse and begged me to come check on him". If her claim was investigated (by say, the police going to check with Ferris and finding him not there), she'd win because she just wanted Ferris to get busted. If it wasn't, she could probably avoid a lot of trouble (family emergencies typically get leniency).
      • They couldn't enter her house without her permission or a warrant. Since she would be found out immediately if she let them see that Ferris wasn't there, she would have no reason to let them check.
      • Plus by the time it would have taken to get all the paperwork in order for a warrant, Ferris probably would have made it home by then, rendering the whole thing pointless on her part. And even if it worked, the police probably wouldn't be too happy that she wasted their time just to get her brother in trouble.
  • What exactly does Rooney hope to accomplish by catching Ferris? Yes, he's a bit of a Designated Villain for wanting to catch a truant, but here's the thing: Ferris is technically not a truant on this occasion. His mother called him off. At that point it no longer matters if he is really sick - he's excused. The school has been informed of his impending absence by a parent or legal guardian. The reason for doing so, and whether or not it was true, is immaterial. Now, it's true that Ferris has blatantly skipped school before (and even hacked the school records to hide this fact), so I'm not saying his actions are justified. But catching him on this one occasion won't prove that it has happened before. Rooney could tell his parents "told ya so", maybe get him grounded. But his stated goal is to get Ferris held back another year - and all he did was prove a kid lied to his parents on this one occasion. From the school district's point of view the facts are this: 1) Kid said he was sick. 2) Parents called him off. 3) School records (unknowingly tampered with) show that this hasn't happened an inordinate number of times. 4) Kid graduates.
    • You're forgetting that Rooney witnesses Sloane Peterson speeding away from campus with Ferris. This undoubtedly is the tipping point that made him want to take matters into his own hands.
      • Okay, so Sloane is guilty of skipping school, since the parent who called her off was a fake. But Rooney never shows any indication that he suspects this after the phone conversation. He gets suspicious when he hears that Sloane might be dating Ferris, but when Ferris himself calls during that conversation he panics and swallows the lie. Having the fancy car show up apparently seals the deal, as he has no idea that Ferris is that much of a Chessmaster. Even the comment he makes to himself ("So that's how it is in their family") suggests he is really convinced that was her father.
      • Rooney's dialogue about the history of Ferris at school - and about his mother being convinced by all the acts - suggests that Rooney isn't really out to find evidence that other staff/parents will believe. Rooney probably sees himself as the Anti-Hero cop, busting a wise-ass lowlife who's too smug. It's about facing down Ferris, rather than about anyone else. He wants to catch Ferris in the act and gloat, in order to show Ferris that not everyone will follow his game or believe him. He's basically trying to give Ferris a rude awakening. It's become a personal quest.
    • He actually saw Ferris absence record change on his computer from 9 days to two. That alone would, nay, should raise all kinds of alarms for anybody.
      • He has no proof. And he doesn't spend the day trying to find backups of the schools computer records, he spends it thinking that if he can just find Ferris, he can shout "A-ha!" and win.
      • This reaches its nadir when Rooney somehow thinks he can tell Ferris' parents "Ferris wasn't really sick! I know because I broke into your home today and he wasn't there!" and have it end well.
    • Rooney clearly intends to abuse his position and punish Ferris extremely heavily whether his absences are excused or not, if he can catch him in the act. Catching Ferris would just be his excuse, he'd march him home himself and prove to his parents he wasn't sick, and use Ferris' fear and the parents' embarrassment to keep them from arguing with what he wanted to do. It's one more sign that he's petty and power-mad, not a misunderstood educator.
      • Actively gloating about the prospect of ruining Ferris' life makes his character a lot darker than the movie would initially indicate. It also speaks to Rooney's tenuous grasp on reality. What exactly is he going to do? If Ferris has completed enough work in his classes to actually pass them, the only thing Rooney could do is expel Ferris for hacking the computer, assuming he could even prove it. Even then, Ferris could take his final term's worth of classes at a local community college during the summer, get his GED or high school diploma from there, then still be right on track to begin at whatever university he's attending in the fall.
    • While it may not have been the case at the time the film was made, Illinois now bases its school funding on average daily attendance rather than total enrollment. Ferris would have been costing the district money.
  • Aside from Rule of Funny, why does Ferris wait until nine days of skipping school to hack into the computer to change the number of days he was absent?
    • Given how they mentioned it several times, the computer (and the car) were pretty recent so he didn't have the chance to do it before, also hacking the school records probably isn't that easy so he had to prepare for it in advance.
  • Why exactly did Cameron get that upset when he saw how much mileage those parking guys racked up? The group already put miles onto it by driving it to and from downtown Chicago. Cameron's dad seems like the kind of guy who would be just as upset no matter how many miles were put on it, be it 1 or 100.
    • Because they were planning to drive it home in reverse, to hide the fact they drove the car. And having two thousand extra miles means they can never reverse-drive it in time before Cameron's father gets home.
      • There was less than 200 additional miles on the odometer, not two thousand. Presumably, they were planning on rolling it back like they did at the end.
  • Did anyone else find it odd that there are no students with C, D, or E names in the economics class? The class roster goes straight from Bueller to Frye. I realize this was for expediency's sake from a technical standpoint, but it still makes you wonder what the probability of that would be in real life.
    • Speaking as a teacher, the odds are pretty high. With, say, twenty-five students in this class, what are the odds of each student's last name beginning with a different letter?
    • If it is equally likely that a student's name starts when any letter, the chance that there is a student with a last name starting with that letter is 62% - for three different letters, it is 92%. Using the 2000 census, there is a 98% chance that some student had a last name starting with c, d, or e; assuming 25 students. That 25 students all have a name starting with a different letter, assuming a constant distribution, has a 0.0000000065% chance of occurring. (If we want to be pedantic, we know there are two students that have names without those letters, but it doesn't really change anything, the chances of someone having names with those letters are still over 90%).
  • How do the playfully-racist extras rack up 2500 miles on a car in six hours? The car's speedometer tops out at 70 mph; by my math they'd be hard-pressed to add more than 500 miles.
    • They didn't. The odometer started at 125, and ended at 301. That's only 176 miles. And that is the tachometer. The speedometer goes to 160.
  • In the scene in which Ferris and crew are in a taxi and wind up stuck in traffic next to Ferris' dad, they pull a switcheroo and Sloane is sitting there when Ferris' dad looks back. She even goes so far as to look over at him and smiles how doesn't Mr. Bueller recognize his son's girlfriend? Cause she's wearing sunglasses?
    • A combination of The Nondescript (Sloane, despite being attractive, is rather plain and would not stand out in a crowd), Recognition Failure due to the loss of clarity looking through two car windows, and a simple Contrived Coincidence because Sloane would be at school and she wouldn't blow him a kiss.
      • YMMV on how nondescript Sloane is, but the easiest answer is possibly that Mr. Bueller believes she knows better than to skip school, since she's outwardly rather prim and proper, so in his mind it couldn't possibly be her. "The next time I see that girl, I'll have to tell her she has a doppelgänger!"
    • It's plausible that Ferris' obviously caring, but clueless and, besides, corporately workaholic parents aren't aware of Sloane. Based on Grace the secretary's comments, she may be his Girl of the Week rather than a long-term, serious relationship. Knowing Ferris, this isn't even inconsistent with his willingness to marry her on a whim.
    • There are two possibilities that haven't been brought up: 1. Ferris may have told his parents about Sloane but haven't introduced her to them (which may not be as likely, as for the fact that if they did, they probably be asking questions about her, including why he hasn't introduced her to them), or 2. (more than likely) he hasn't told them about her, thus they have no idea she exists in Ferris' life, and Jeanie only knows about her because she's probably seen them together at school.
  • Why the heck does Cameron wear a Gordie Howe Detroit Red Wings jersey in the middle of downtown Chicago?note 
    • He hates himself and hopes someone will beat him up.
    • Naw, he's with Ferris Bueller. He has nothing to fear.
      • They may have assumed that Cameron was from out of town and paid him no mind, and they probably had other things to worry about than harassing some random stranger they pass by on the street.
    • It's a part of Cameron's backstory. Alan Ruck said in an interview that Hughes had told him that, despite Cameron's bad relationship with his father, he has a stellar relationship with his grandfather, who lives in Detroit and takes him to Red Wings games. So he wears it as a form of rebellion.
    • The film is set in 1985 - a year that the Blackhawks swept Detroit out of the playoffs, winning each game by at least 4 goals (and it had been 14 years since Howe played for them at that point). Most Chicago fans probably weren't too upset at the Wings at the time.
  • How could Ferris use his computer to remotely access and alter his attendance records when the internet doesn't exist yet, and wouldn't a school in the 1980's keep its records on paper?
    • The internet as it currently exists wasn't around in the eighties, but to say it didn't exist at all kind of shows your youth. Hacking as a "thing" began in the eighties, and universities and schools were some of the few places that actually probably would have had a modem. The school's computers likely had an external modem that they would have connected to a central ISD system to access and back up records to over the phone line. This actually would have made it even easier for Ferris to hack it... he would have really only needed some information likely written on the side of the modem itself to get in. And there would have been BBSes that would have told him how to do it.
    • In all certainty, the class roll was taken on paper, and then typed into the computer by the secretary. The question is whether the missing seven absences can be proved by having kept the rolls for those days. If they were, Ferris' lies are about to come tumbling down...
    • The whole scene was a Shout-Out to Broderick's previous role in WarGames. While still somewhat new, home computers with modems were beginning to take hold in early to mid '80's. Note how they associate the price of the computer with with the price of a car for Ferris.
  • The phone call scene... Rooney never considered that Ferris might have an accomplice?
    • Given that he was sure the person he was talking to was Ferris only to discover that it wasn't, he probably panicked and didn't think of the possibility at that moment.
  • Speaking of the phone call scene, how are Cameron and Ferris able to call from the same house at the same time? I can't think of any reason for the Buellers' house to have two phone lines.
    • Considering Mr and Mrs Bueller work separate jobs (and are at least implied to be vaguely workaholic parents), it wouldn't be truly inconceivable for them to have two phones for work-related purposes.
  • So, the timeline for the day's events. I think it goes like this:
    7:30 AM: Ferris fakes illness and his parents and Jeannie leave.
    8 AM: Ferris showers, calls Cameron and goofs off while waiting for him to come over.
    9 AM: Cameron finally comes over. The duo prank-call Ed Rooney and get Sloan out of class.
    9:15 AM: After the prank call, Ferris and Cameron go to Cameron's house to borrow the Ferrari.
    9:45 AM: Ferris and Cameron pick up Sloan from school and head for Chicago.
    10 AM: Ferris parks the car, and the three go to the John Hancock Center.
    11 AM: The trio go to the stock exchange.
    12 PM: The trio go to Chez Paul for lunch.
    1 PM: The trio attend a few innings of the baseball game. It's highly doubtful they stayed for the whole game.
    2 PM: The trio go to the art museum.
    3 PM: The trio attend the parade.
    4 PM: The trio leave the city, but briefly stop at a park to try to snap Cameron out of his catatonic state.
    4:30 PM: The trio go to a backyard pool, where Cameron finally snaps out of it.
    5 PM: The trio go back to Cameron's house, where they try to roll back the mileage and fail.
    5:50 PM: Ferris kisses Sloan goodbye for the day and runs home.
    6 PM: Ferris arrives at his back door, and after being bailed out by Jeannie, bolts upstairs and into bed before his parents get there.
    Anything I left out?
    • I always presumed the "park" and the pool were at Cameron's house.
  • Why is Rooney constantly treated as an Unintentionally Sympathetic Designated Villain by the fandom when the whole movie has him relentlessly stalking one of his students on the personal belief that Ferris was a truant? Lets face it, whether or not you can accept Ferris as The Hero a man willing to flake his job so he can follow a student around all day, a young and attractive one at that clearly has issues. While he may make a good case of Strawman Has a Point his methods are extremely inappropriate and unprofessional to say the least. To a modern audience his behavior would certainly raise eyebrows.
  • Why is Ferris acting like Rooney busted him at the back door? First: "The school day ended three hours ago; today's attendance records are now historic and you can't change them just because I skipped school" (and furthermore "Why do you have such a hard-on about this?"). Second: "You can't prove that I did feel too sick to go to school this morning but I then felt better after having lunch/a nap/I've just been out for a walk".
    • He probably was panicked and not thinking straight.
  • Ferris could have easily - and plausibly - avoided detection at the parade by wearing a "carnival" mask. Of course, thanks to his being The Ace, he pulls it off anyway.
  • Who owns the pool? We see Ferris at it when he calls Cameron, implying it's at his house since he hasn't been anywhere else yet... but at the end of the movie, during Cameron's breakdown, they're there again, while both Jeannie and Rooney are skulking around the Bueller home. So who actually owns it?

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