23 Things I Forgot About 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off'

by Leigh Anderson
Originally Published: 
A snapshot of Ferris Bueller and Cameron Frye from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" standing next to each ...

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off will be 30 years old next year, which means that Ferris himself is roughly 47; he and Sloan probably have a couple of teenage kids of their own. I recently re-watched the movie to see if it stood the test of time, and lo and behold it does—there’s a bunch of terrific moments I didn’t really appreciate the first time around. Below, 23 things I forgot about Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

1. Ferris’s parents—who appear to be about my age now—are actually pretty cool. He’s not rebelling against awful parents. Just a stultifying high school.

2. This is his ninth sick day—as he says, “If I go for 10 I’ll probably have to barf up a lung.”

3. About his elaborate scheming (the dummy in the bed, the recorded snoring noises), Ferris says, “It’s a little childish and stupid. But then, so is high school.”

4. Cameron’s modernist, mid-century house is absurdly awesome—something that’s more interesting to me at 41 than it was at 13. Fun fact: It sold in 2014 for $1 million.

5. Ferris doesn’t have a car—as he says, “I could be the Walrus, I’d still have to bum rides.”

6. About Cameron: “He can’t be wound up this tight and go to college. His roommate will kill him.”

7. Edward R. Rooney, dean of students, is played by Jeffrey Jones, who also played—can you believe it?—Emperor Joseph II in Amadeus.

8. Mr. Rooney says, “Just produce a corpse, and I’ll release Sloan.”

9. His secretary Grace discreetly sniffs Wite-Out.

10. The economics lecture on monetary policy, delivered by Ben Stein, of “Bueller? Bueller?” fame is actually…pretty interesting, when you’re, uh, 41.

11. This high school has a lot of subgroups. As Grace says, “Oh, he’s very popular, Ed. The sportos, motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wasteoids, dweebies, dickheads—they all adore him.”

12. Ferris and Cameron’s “Why’d you kick me/Where’s your brain/Why’d you kick me/Where’s your brain” back and forth is pure Abbott and Costello.

13. When Cameron tells Ferris that his dad never actually drives the treasured Ferrari—he just rubs it with a diaper—Ferris rationalizes stealing the car: “A man with priorities so far out of whack doesn’t deserve such a fine automobile.”

14. The Ferrari’s license plate reads “NRVOUS.”

15. Oh yeah, this classic Edward R. Rooney line: “I did not achieve this position in life by having some snot-nose punk leave my cheese out in the wind.”

16. There is precisely one nod to how absurdly white and rich Ferris and all his pals are—when he drops the Ferrari at the garage, saying to the attendant, “Hey, how’re you doing? Do you speak English?” the attendant replies, “What country do you think this is?”

17. The secretary, played by Edie McClurg, greets Ferris’s sister with, “Why hello, Jeannie. Who’s bothering you now?”

18. Mr. Rooney asks a bartender, “What’s the score?” about a Cubs game. The guy replies “Nothing-nothing.” Rooney says, “Who’s winning?” and the bartender replies, “The Bears.”

19. The garage attendants go joy-riding to the theme song from The Empire Strikes Back.

20. About two and a half minutes into the “Twist and Shout” scene, dozens of black people break into the Thriller dance in unison. Uh, what?

21. Charlie Sheen gives advice (and makes out with) Jennifer Grey in the police station. His words of wisdom? “You oughta spend more time dealing with yourself and a little less time worrying about what your brother does.”

22. The final trippy sequence of Jean racing Ferris home, including that one epic trampoline jump:

23. And finally, the credits: Mr. Rooney hitches a ride on the school bus. The girl with the enormous glasses says, “Gummi bear? They’ve been in my pocket. They’re real warm and soft.”

And that’s the final surreal note of Ferris’s day off—the defeated Mr. Rooney surrounded by his hated students on an unmoving school bus, certainly his private version of hell. So, yes, the movie holds up well over 30 years—it made me want to kick up my Converse sneakers, cue up a cassette and play hooky. Because life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

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