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YMMV / Ferris Bueller's Day Off

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • 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.
    • Did Jeannie save Ferris from Rooney merely because of Big Sister Instinct, because of the pep talk that the druggie gave her to only worry about herself, or was it that Rooney got her in trouble in the first place? If he hadn't broken into the house, Jeannie wouldn't have been scared to death or hauled to the police station for supposedly making a phony phone call when saying there was an intruder in the house. It proves that Rooney is much worse than Jeannie is because she was trying to bust her little brother for playing hooky and had every right to return home.
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    • When Cameron goes into the trance, is it solely due to the stress/trauma of seeing his dad's car having a ton of miles on it, or did he scream so loudly and for so long that he exhausted himself to the point of temporary catatonia? Remember, he was actually sick that day, it's not a stretch to think he used up what was left of his energy, especially since he was running around Chicago all day. It may have even been a little of both.
  • Awesome Music
    • This film, along with The Secret of My Success, made the avant garde Swiss band Yello a household name with its iconic use of "Oh Yeah" in the Ferrari's introduction.
    • The instrumental "March of the Swivelheads" by the English Beat, playing during Ferris's frantic run home.
    • The beautiful "The Edge of Forever" by The Dream Academy during Sloane's final conversation with Ferris.
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  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Ferris dancing to the I Dream of Jeannie theme song.
  • Critical Research Failure: Ferris and Cameron need to turn back the odometer on Cameron's dad's 1961 Ferrari, but can't because it has an anti-rollback mechanism. Anti-rollback odometers were mandated in the 1970s; all vehicles built before that had odometers that would roll backward if driven in reverse. (It's not out of left-field that Cameron's dad installed an anti-rollback mechanism if that's possible, however, since Cameron bitterly says his dad never trusts 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 goodwill 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, getting Jeannie in trouble with the cops, 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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  • 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.
  • Esoteric Happy Ending: Cameron is last seen resolving to have it out with his domineering and emotionally distant father for the first time in his life after accidentally destroying the latter's priceless Ferrari. This moment marks the final step in his Character Development, but it doesn't change the fact that the Ferrari is beyond saving, and the elder Frye, who prioritizes his material wealth (especially the Ferrari) over everyone and everything else, will be home shortly. And if Cameron was as deathly afraid of his father as he said he was before, one can safely say that his father has given him damn good reason to be. So, despite his newfound strength and confidence, the ensuing confrontation probably didn't go over very well.
  • Fanfic Fuel: Many fanfics have been written depicting the scene in which Mr. Frye arrives home to his destroyed Ferrari and Cameron confronts him. Based on how Cameron describes his dad, the results usually range from tragic to nightmarish.
  • "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, which Hughes also wrote.
    • The Stinger was just a silly non-sequitur at the time, 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 The Return of Godzilla. Matthew Broderick would go on to star in Godzilla (1998).
    • Alan Ruck would himself play an emotionally aloof, materialistic father in One Day at a Time (2017).
  • 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.
  • Les Yay: Behind the scenes example. In 2020, Jennifer Grey shared some behind the scenes photos from the film on Instagram, one of which featured her almost kissing Mia Sara.
  • 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.
    • "Oh, well, he's very popular, Ed. The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wasteoids, dweebies, dickheads — They all adore him. They think he's a righteous dude."
    • "My name's Jean but everybody calls me Shauna."
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • Meta example. When Rooney pokes his head inside through the doggie door and sees the Bueller's family dog growling at him. It's quite terrifying.
    • From Jeannie's point-of-view, she came home during her senior lunch break, and while her little brother is missing, someone is in the house. when she tries to surprise the person, it turns out to be an "intruder". Jeannie in the heat of the moment understandably screams, kicks him in the jaw several times, and runs to hide in her room while calling the police. To top it all off, the cops don't believe her. She later finds out that it was Rooney, after locating his wallet, and is understandably furious that he got her in trouble.
  • 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.
  • Ron the Death Eater: 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.
  • Strawman Has a Point:
    • Rooney's quest to prove that Bueller is ditching school is a legitimate concern. The issue is that his determination to find Ferris playing hooky leads to him breaking into the Bueller house and scaring Jeannie to death. 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.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: Ferris' older sister Jeannie is clearly meant to be portrayed as an antagonistic force whom the audience should root against, but she has a lot of great reasons to despise her younger brother. For starters, she happens to know about Ferris' antics and it's literally her job to keep an eye on Ferris. Candace Flynn and her would get along fabulously. She's also The Un Favourite among her parents, disliked among her community as an "angsty teenager", and has to deal with the fact that her brother is beloved by his entire town. That's not just Parental Favoritism, it's basically her being the town menace that everybody hates. Talk about a rough life! Plus as charming a memorable as Ferris is, it doesn't hide the fact that he's kind of a douchebag. ScreenPrism aka The Take does an entire video about it.
  • What an Idiot!:
    • Rooney never considers talking to Ferris Bueller's sister about her suspicions about Ferris playing hooky. If he had done that, he would at least have an ally in addition to his secretary Grace and someone who knows the kids' modus operandi. In fact, when Jeannie tries to go see him, she is rude to Grace and skipping class but wanted to tell Rooney that she thinks her little brother isn't really sick and is goofing off. The way it works out, Jeannie kicks Rooney in the jaw on pure instinct.
    • The police when thinking Jeannie made a phony prank call didn't realize that someone had left their wallet in the house. It would have vindicated Jeannie and gotten Rooney in serious trouble. The fact that Jeannie finds it and "returns" it to Rooney shows that she is well-aware of this fact.
  • 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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