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Now here’s a kid who knows how to get proper value from a day off. This film charts a day in the life of Ferris Bueller who decides to take a day off school and ropes his best friend Cameron and girlfriend Sloane along for the ride. And what a ride it is!
Hoodwinking his parents with a Heath Robinson-esque device was the easy part. Convincing Cameron to let him borrow his father’s 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder took a little longer. Staying one step ahead of Ed Rooney and his sister was going to take a little more thought…
The script is sharp and full of instantly-recognisable one-liners but what starts off as tourist board slapstick with a tour around Chicago – the Art Institute, a baseball game at Wrigley Field, a fancy restaurant in the guise of Abe Froman, the Sausage King of Chicago and the German-American Day parade – the chatter between the three protagonists starts to take on some real meaning.
The symbolic red Ferrari has a place of honour and immense pride in Cameron’s father’s life – a place denied to Cameron – and it becomes Ferris’s job (subconsciously or not) to help his friend gain self-respect while faced with such harsh materialism. It’s an ideal metaphor for 80s excess.
In a typical Hollywood race against time and despite the best efforts of Ed Rooney and Jeanie, Ferris makes it back to his sickbed as if nothing had happened and the film ends as quietly as it began.
John Hughes carved out a phenomenally successful career as the ‘philosopher of adolescence’, directing or scripting 80s classics The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Home Alone and Weird Science whereby adults were one-dimensional and distant who all love their kids (in their own ways) but totally failed on every level to understand them. Yet again, he got it spot-on.
Some of our favourite Ferris Bueller’s Day Off quotes…
Ferris: This is my ninth sick day this semester. It’s pretty tough coming up with new illnesses. If I go for ten, I’m probably going to have to barf up a lung, so I better make this one count.
Cameron: The 1961 Ferrari 250GT California. Less than a hundred were made. My father spent three years restoring this car. It is his love, it is his passion.
Ferris: It’s his fault he didn’t lock the garage.
Economics Teacher: Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?
Simone: Um, he’s sick. My best friend’s sister’s boyfriend’s brother’s girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who’s going with the girl who saw Ferris pass out at 31 Flavors last night. I guess it’s pretty serious.
Economics Teacher: Thank you, Simone.
Grace: 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.
(The line ‘They think he’s a righteous dude’ wasn’t in the script. Actress Edie McClurg ad-libbed it in her best Chicago accent.)
Ferris: 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 Trivia!
We all know the guy in the police station was Charlie Sheen but did you know he stayed awake for two straight days to get the desired ‘drugged out’ look?
They used four replica fibreglass ‘Ferraris’ (mostly modified MGs) because there were only 104 originals made and it was way too expensive to smash one up.
Anthony Michael Hall (Weird Science and The Breakfast Club) turned down the role of Cameron (and Duckie in Pretty in Pink) because he didn’t want to be typecast. Emilio Estevez turned the role down too!
When Ferris picks up Sloane in front of school, they are standing in front of Glenbrook North High School in Illinois, Hughes’s alma mater.
Whenever Rooney and Ferris have a conversation with each other, only one of them speaks throughout the conversation; the other is silent.
The hall scenes in which you see Jeanie walking down the hall and kids collecting money to save Ferris are the halls from The Breakfast Club.
The Stars of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – Where Are They Now?
Married to Sarah Jessica Parker since 1997, the double Tony Award-winning actor has spent a considerable amount of time on Broadway as well as guesting on 30Rock and Modern Family.
An accomplished stage actor and is perhaps most famous as Stuart Bondek in Spin City.
Sara hasn’t quite emulated the success of her co-stars – the 1994 Van Damme ‘film’ Timecop appears to be the highlight, but in 2010 she married Brian Henson, son of Muppets’ creator Jim.
Jones scored roles in some high-profile films in the 80s and 90s, including Amadeus, Easy Money, Beetlejuice and The Hunt for Red October but his career ground to a halt in 2003 after pleading ‘no contest’ to a felony charge of employing a 14-year-old boy to pose for sexually explicit photos. In 2004 and again in 2010, he was charged with failing to update his sex offender registration status.
Grey starred in another seminal 80s movie Dirty Dancing as well as Cold War classic Red Dawn. An appearance-altering nose-job didn’t affect Baby’s dancing talents – she won 2010’s Dancing with the Stars, the US version of Strictly!