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YMMV / Ferris Bueller's Day Off

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • It's become somewhat popular to view Ferris as a sociopathic Manipulative Bastard rather than an irreverent, fun-loving and somewhat irresponsible teen. Supporters of this view point to his charm, his ability to con and manipulate his way into getting the things he wants, and being apathetic toward the possibility of consequences for him or his companions. However, one has to ignore Ferris's confrontation with Cameron (in which he offers to take the heat for the wrecked Ferrari) and his genuine interest in helping Cameron come out of his shell, to maintain this interpretation.
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    • Some modern viewers want Jeannie to "win" and in turn Ferris to be punished due to her being an undeserved chew toy. There is also a quick throwaway line that her actions caused her mother to miss out on a business deal and therefore prevented the family from buying Ferris a car. This could be interpreted as a consolation prize to Jeannie in indirectly getting one over on Ferris.
    • Rooney is a He Who Fights Monsters case. His crusade to take down the rulebreaking Ferris for the sake of enforcing the rules causes him to commit some morally questionable acts himself; and he abandons his own post for the day to do so. See Designated Villain below.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Ferris dancing to the I Dream of Jeannie theme song.
  • Chaotic Neutral: Ferris Bueller definitely qualifies. His whole goal in life is just to have a good time, with little regard for rules or even moral righteousness (his incessant lying speaks for itself).
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  • Crazy Awesome: Ferris Bueller is the epitome of this trope. His crazy monologues, though filled with nonsense, still manage to make perfect sense. He is never content with his and his friend's normal antics during their day off from school. In every instance he kicks up the antics a notch to the Crazy/Awesome level.
  • Designated Hero: Alternate Character Interpretation holds that Ferris is spoiled, immature, selfish, obnoxious, and manipulates close friends and family for no reason beyond his own amusement. Despite his near lack of redeeming qualities, his name's in the title, so you're supposed to root for him.
  • Designated Villain: Rooney is depicted as a Dean Bitterman-type who's seemingly trying to stop Ferris and his friends from having fun for no good reason. Except he does have good reason: it's his job to enforce school regulations, and Ferris has been breaking said regs by skipping school at least nine times before he hacks into the school computer to alter the records, and does so by blatantly exploiting the good will of everyone around him, including his parents. Yet, the movie turns the audience against him by having him go way too far in trying to catch Ferris; breaking into his house and assaulting his dog and having him act as though he's trying to catch Ferris out of spite instead of trying to enforce the rules.
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  • Ear Worm: "Oh Yeah" by Yello.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: The economics teacher played by...anyone? Anyone? Ben Stein is easily the film's most iconic character, even though he only has a minute or two of screen time, and he serves no plot purpose whatsoever. His signature line ("Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?") has approached almost memetic levels, and it's often jokingly quoted in everyday conversation when someone asks a question that fails to get a response. Stein turned this persona into a career.
  • Epileptic Trees: A fairly popular theory is that Ferris is actually a figment of Cameron's imagination, like a less destructive Tyler Durden, that Cameron created as a way to force himself to steal his dad's car and have fun. Part of the theory that changes depending on who you ask is that either Sloane is also imaginary, or is real but goes along with Cameron's delusions so she can have a good time. For this to work though, not only would Jeanie and Bueller's parents have to be imaginary, but Ed Rooney, his secretary, and the economics professor would have to be, if not imaginary, then having imaginary days, and that just brings up the question of why Cameron's illusion includes such an elaborate B-plot.
  • Escapist Character: Ferris Bueller is popular, funny and rich. He has a hot girlfriend, does whatever he wants, and pretty much everything works out perfectly for him.
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." In other words, live life to the fullest, don't keep others from doing so, and try to help those around you do the same. Many people — some with very real power to hurt you socially or physically — will be angry because of this, but do it anyway. It's the only life any of us have. It's in stark contrast to just about any Aesop that states you are only a good person if you submit to whatever society demands of you.
    • Living life to the fullest means defying people who refuse to do so. This can mean lying, cheating and stealing. As long as you don't actually hurt anyone, it doesn't really matter in the long run.
    • Worrying yourself into a neurotic puddle trying to live up to the expectations of others doesn't do anyone any good. Cameron kicking a dent in his father's Ferrari while screaming, "Who do you love? You love a car!" shown as a triumph over the man who neglected him to the point of destroying his sense of self-worth. The act of rebellion can be an end in itself, simply because there are some arenas so corrupt that the only clean acts possible are nihilistic.
    • Jean and Rooney's vendetta to expose Ferris' shenanigans puts them through utter hell despite Ferris never actually doing a damn thing to either of them. Charlie Sheen's Erudite Stoner character actually states the Family-Unfriendly Aesop: Why go to so much trouble over him? The only person he could possibly be hurting by neglecting his education is himself. It's actually the other side of the first FUA; if you're going to the trouble of punishing victimless crimes, you're not living life to the fullest — you're subjecting yourself to stress and hardship solely to subject someone else to stress and hardship! Because Jean accepts who Ferris is and moving on with her life, she lets Ferris into the house and gets to see Rooney — the jerk who broke into the house — mauled by their dog. Rooney ends the day riding home on the bus with all the kids who live in utter fear of him; his self-inflicted punishment for being an authoritarian dick.
  • Fan Fic Fuel: Anyone who has seen the movie would write fics that would answer the question that Sloan has asked as far as Cameron confronting his father is concerned. "Do you think Cameron will be ok?" Based on how the movie describes his dad, the results usually range from tragic to nightmarish. Or both.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • Several scenes became much less funny after Jeffrey Jones' 2003 arrest for possession of child pornography and soliciting a 14 year old. These include the scene in which Jeanie mistakes Ed Rooney for a prowler and the part where he comes up behind who he thinks is Ferris (but is actually a short-haired girl) and says "Your ass is mine!"
    • The entire Rooney subplot (in which he roams the streets of Chicago hunting down Ferris to demonstrate he's skipping school, including breaking into his home) is funny on screen for many people... except for one family in the Midwest that got a pretty big scare in The '90s when the principal of the school their son went to broke into their home (by climbing into their son's room through the window) to personally make sure that he was actually sick after they called in earlier in the day to say that he wouldn't be able to go.
  • Genius Bonus: The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act that Ben Stein's character talks about is extremely significant in modern economic theory, being credited with making the Great Depression much worse than it otherwise would have been (which in turn factored into, among other things, the rise of Nazi Germany). It's basically the entire reason industrial protectionist tariffs have been a Dead Horse Trope for close to a century in favor of free trade.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • The biker Jeannie meets at the police station is played by a very young Charlie Sheen, whose first three lines include the word "drugs"; the first and third lines simply are the word "drugs".
    • Jeannie's scream before she runs after kicking Rooney looks similar to Kevin's scream and run during Home Alone.
    • The Stinger was just a silly non-sequitur at the same, but is now utterly hilarious in these days of huge movie franchises featuring teasers for the next film after the credits.
    • The garage guy who takes the Ferrari for a joyride to the Star Wars theme looks a lot like Adam Driver.
    • Standing behind the singing nurse is a person wearing a papier mache head that resembles Frank.
    • During the downtown parade scene, they pass a theater playing Godzilla 1985. Matthew Broderick would go on to star in Godzilla (1998).
  • Inferred Holocaust: Cameron is last seen resolving to, for the first time in his life, have it out with his domineering and emotionally distant father after accidentally totaling the latter's priceless Ferrari. This is the final step in his metamorphosis from a sad, shy hypochondriac to an assertive, confident adult. But the facts remain thus: the Ferrari is beyond saving, and the elder Frye, who prioritizes his material wealth, especially the Ferrari, to the exclusion of everything and everyone else, will be home shortly. And if Cameron pre-Character Development was as deathly afraid of his father as he said he was, one can safely infer that his father has given him damn good reason to be. So despite his newfound strength and confidence, the ensuing confrontation very likely did not end well for him. Suffice it to say, many fanfics have been written depicting this scene, with varying outcomes.
  • Informed Wrongness: Ed Rooney is depicted as a Jerkass Dean Bitterman who's going overboard with trying to discipline Ferris (admittedly, he broke the law and committed animal cruelty), though that doesn't change the fact that Ferris is skipping school, has done so at least nine times prior (he hacks into the school computer to change the records), and does so by blatantly exploiting the good will of everyone, including his parents.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Jeanie has her moments too, though its more of this trope, given how she reacts to her problems by being a spiteful, bitter Jerkass to everyone around her.
  • Memetic Mutation: How many tropers have had a class where the teacher didn't say "Bueller? Bueller?" at least once during attendance? Ben Stein has said he wants it on his tombstone. "Oh Yeah" gained popularity online as music to play during a creepy sexual situation.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Ben Stein as the...anyone? Anyone?...the economics professor. (Technically two)
    • Charlie Sheen as the druggie in the police station.
    Druggie: You oughta spend a little more time worryin' 'bout yourself, and a little less time worryin' 'bout what your brother does...
    • Numerous others come to mind as well (the snooty waiter, the "nurse-gram" woman, etc.)
  • One True Threesome: Ferris/Cameron/Sloane is quite popular. And, if you're watching the movie with Shipping Goggles on, surprisingly plausible.
  • Strawman Has a Point:
    • Rooney's quest to prove that Bueller is ditching school is a legitimate concern. Most schools in America are legally required to maintain student attendance, or they face the possibility of having their funding cut.
    • Jeannie's quest to catch Ferris. Her complaining about how unfair it is that Ferris gets away with whatever he wants while she gets punished is proven true when she is hauled down to the police station for supposedly "making a phony phone call" about a very real intruder and getting in trouble with their parents while Ferris gets away with having a whole fun day out with his friends.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: The Ferris Bueller TV series employed a little musical riff that seems awfully similar to Yello's "Oh Yeah". (F-F-F-Ferris B-B-B-Bueller hee hoo!)
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: While probably unnecessary given that we know Cameron will stand up for himself, it is something of a shame that we don't get to see his dad's reaction to the wrecked Ferrari.
  • Values Dissonance: A lot of modern teens (especially ones who understand rules) see Jeanie as more The Chew Toy. She could either A) right a wrong (her brother manipulating her parents and the whole school, which he had done before—9 times) and stand up for what she saw as right and wrong or B) give up. Her giving up was supposed to be a good thing.
  • The Woobie: Cameron Frye might qualify as The Chew Toy or the Butt-Monkey were it not for the fact that most—if not all—of his woes are either within his ability to change or exist wholly inside of his own head, and it is this inability or unwillingness to recognize his own self worth that results in his uptight, paranoid hypochondriac persona (resulting in his also being The Eeyore of the film). He doesn't fit perfectly into the Loser Archetype because he doesn't really make any attempt to rise above his current situation, but you still get the impression that he could benefit from a good hug.
    • Then again, Cameron's home life is notoriously terrible — his parents don't love each other and his father cares more about restoring a car than he cares about his wife and son. Part of the reason Ferris takes him along for the ride is that he feels sorry for him and wants to show him a good time.
    "Cameron has never been in love. At least, nobody's ever been in love with him".


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