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Subject: Ferris Bueller's Day Off and the secret to life

Written By: BrianMannixGirl on 07/17/07 at 7:39 am

I just finished reading this in my favourite online newspaper and felt it was worth sharing here as it is a great breakdown of a true favourite film. Its long but enjoyable.
Ferris Bueller's Day Off and the secret to life
There are quite a few documents out there that claim to be guides for a virtuous and productive life from the Bible, to the Koran, Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist and, of course, Big
Tony Robbins's Unleash the Giant Within.

Recently, however, while watching my all time favourite movie, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, it dawned on me that everything you need to know about life is contained in the 102 minute running time of this '80s classic.

As the school secretary points out, "the sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, waistoids, dweebies, buttheads - they all adore Ferris. They think he's a righteous dude," and I'd have to agree.

Ferris Bueller pretty much embodies everything I believe a man should be: a little dangerous, immensely charming, funny, an optimist, adventurous, challenging, a bit dodgy, curious, subversive, latitudinarian and a dab hand with the sheilas.

Anyway, what follows took far longer to produce than it looks, so please read on and discover the secret to life according to Ferris...

Ferris Bueller's Day Off was released by Paramount Pictures on June 11, 1986 to warm but not rabid reviews and went on to earn US$70,136,369 and just over a million bucks in Australia.

No one could have predicted it was to become the guiding light of cool for an entire generation of young hustlers, but then again, I couldn't predict if I was going to survive the weekend in 1986.

Be positive
The first words in the movie are "it is a beautiful day in Chicago."

Writer and director John Hughes could have gone with snow, wind, rain, or a heatwave but he chose the perfect day. I like it.

Bonus trivia: The opening shot of the Bueller home is actually shot in Long Beach, California. This apparently distressed Hughes somewhat since he wanted the movie to be completely filmed in Chicago, his native town.

I've often pondered why Ferris Bueller's Day Off is such a good film and I reckon it starts with Hughes, a true sponge for popular culture. Despite some of the cheese he's produced later in his career, Hughes managed to write some of the greatest teen films of the '80s including Some Kind of Wonderful (1987), Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986), Pretty in Pink (1986), Weird Science (1985), The Breakfast Club (1985) and Sixteen Candles ((1984). That's a hot streak in anyone's book.

You are smarter than your parents
We all know the premise of the film, right? Ferris Bueller, perennial sickie-taker, throws his ninth of the year and has an awesome day off school. You and I know Ferris is faking it at the beginning of the movie, but his parents buy it in spades mainly because of...

The power of the reverse sell
Ferris has not pulled off his scam until he tries to get out of his sick bed saying, "I have a test today." His parents dutifully push him back into the pillow, assured by his academic vigilance.

This is called the reverse sell and it means stepping back, not being too keen to push your product or services, or sometimes even withdrawing your offer to get the buyer to commit.

Works very well in bars about 9pm on a Friday night.

Bonus trivia: Matthew Broderick wasn't the first choice for the role of Ferris. The part was originally offered to Michael J. Fox, a neat twist since Broderick was apparently the first choice to play Fox's role of Alex P. Keaton on Family Ties. According to Wikipedia, Jim Carrey and Johnny Depp were also considered for Ferris.

Little sisters are brutal
Jeanie Bueller nearly blows Ferris out of the water with her "dry that one out, it could fertilise the lawn" line, going on to say, "if I was bleeding out of my eyes you wouldn't let me stay home from school. This is so unfair."

Sweet baby Jesus, Jeanie, don't you know that...

Life is unfair
Suck it up, freaks. As Ferris says: "Please don't be upset with me, at least you have your health."

Bonus trivia: The opening scene in Ferris's bedroom had two sets of real lovers in real life: The actors playing the mother and father got married after shooting the film, while Broderick was putting away Jennifer Grey. Hey, that rhymed.

The art of clammy hands
I even used this at school myself. As Ferris says: "Fake a stomach cramp and when you're doubled over, moaning and wailing, just lick your palms. It's a little stupid and childish but then so is high school. Right?"

Bonus points: Get a sandwich out of your school bag, chew it up and spit a few mouthfuls into the dunny to show your parent/teacher. Works a charm and they never wanna get close enough to smell the gastric juice.

"Life moves pretty fast...
...if you don't stop to look around once in a while you could miss it."

An absolute mortal lock for line of the movie. Line of your life. Get it in a tattoo and read it in the mirror every time you feel like staying home to watch Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? instead of, umm, experiencing life.

Singing in the shower should be mastered
As should shampoo mohawkes.

Believe in yourself
Says Ferris: "Not that I condone fascism. Or any 'isms'. 'Isms', in my opinion are not good. A person should not believe in an 'ism'. He should believe in himself."

Slow clap for the second most profound line of the movie.

Have a rich buddy
Like Cameron. They can pay for stuff and usually own cars, boats and holiday houses down the coast and sometimes sport drug addictions you can coat-tail off.

All good if you ask me.

Bonus trivia: Did you know Allan Ruck, who played Cameron, was 29-years-old when he filmed the role? Amazing that he's done so little since, unless you count a role in Spin City as a move-up.

For the record, at the time of filming, Broderick was 23, Jennifer Grey was 25, Mia Sara was just 17, Charlie Sheen was 20 and Kristy Swanson was all but 16 years old.

Swanson, who went on to fame as the orginal Buffy in the film Buffy the Vampire Slayer cracks a small part as Simone Adamley, the eager-beaver classmate of Ferris who informs the economics teacher (played by a poker-faced Ben Stein), that Ferris is crook.

"You're not dying, you just can't think of anything cool to do."
Which relates to about 80 percent of people. No imagination.

There's always someone trying to hold you back in life
Like Edward R. Rooney, Dean of Students. Who's the Mr Rooney in your life?

85 percent of what you learn in school is useless crap
"In 1930 the Republican controlled house of representatives, in an effort to alleviate the effects of ... class? ... anyone ... anyone ... the Great Depression, passed the ... anyone ... anyone?"

Bonus trivia: Stein, who plays the teacher in this scene, holds a degree in economics, and ad-libbed the bit where he drones on about the the Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act.

Never underestimate the power of gossip
So by the time we're 12 minutes into the movie, we've got chicks saying things like, "they said he's like on the verge of death. This guy in my biology class said that if Ferris dies he's giving his eyes to Stevie Wonder."

All I'm saying is make sure you're on the right side of gossip and people aren't talking about you and the gaffer-taped guinea pig.

Younger kids are feeble-minded and can be manipulated
Ferris tricks the freshmen at his school to spread more gossip and build the rumour of his sickness. I like to tell small children I can see through walls and that eating dirt makes you run faster.

Be able to move in all circles
As the school secretary points out, "He's very popular, Ed. The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, waistoids, dweebies, buttheads - they all adore him. They think he's a righteous dude."

Yeah, I know I already used this quote - but you're still reading aren't ya?

Tell your parents you love them
Ferris does a lot of this. So should you. Your parents are worth it.

Be persistent
Cameron, who is also sick in bed at the start of the film, debates whether or not to go to Ferris's house but he knows he's dealing with a force of nature: "He'll keep calling me, he'll keep calling me until I go over," says Cameron. It's a good reputation to have.

Date hot chicks
Sloane is still smoking, even after all these years.

On an unrelated point, you'd have to admit FBDO was a bit of a career graveyard for the actors involved. No one save Broderick really did anything after it. Mia Sara's not exactly a household name is she?

Back up your bullsheesh
Sure the whole dummy in bed and snores on the stereo strained credulity but it provides another powerful lesson. If you're gonna play silly buggers, cover your tracks, kiddies.

The 1961 Ferrari GT California...
Hot cars do rule. But you know that, don't you?

Says Cameron: "Less than a hundred were made. My father spent three years restoring it. It is joy, it is his love, it is his passion."

"It is his fault he didn't lock the garage", replies Ferris.

Later in the movie Ferris even gives us the hard sell: "I love driving it. It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up."

I got the bus to the work today. Sad Sam.

God won't save you
Cameron crosses himself when he realises Ferris is taking the Ferrari and we know where that gets him.

Bonus trivia: As Cameron states, less than 100 of the cars were made with no two being the same. They are valued at over US $3 million. However, the car used in the movie was actually a modified MGB.

Extra bonus trivia: According to Save Ferris website, "the Ferrari's personalised license plate was NRVOUS standing for, of course, nervous. Did you know that all of the Bueller cars' license plates were also personalised and referred to other John Hughes films?

"Tom Bueller's license plate reads MMOM referring to Mr Mom. Katie Bueller's reads VCTN referring to National Lampoon's Vacation and Jeanie's license reads TBC which, of course, refers to The Breakfast Club. Ed Rooney's plates read 4FBDO, standing for, For Ferris Bueller's Day Off."

Have a plan
So if you're dating someone as hot as Sloane and she asks you, "what're we gonna do?", you need to have your ducks in a row, or as Ferris says: "The question isn't 'what are we gonna do', the question is 'what aren't we going to do?'"

I'm excited by that prospect and I'm not even a 17-year-old girl.

Bonus trivia: Did you know they made a Ferris Bueller TV show? God, it makes me wanna vomit my heart on whoever thought of this pile of crap. Thankfully it died a painful death but it did star Jennifer Aniston as Jeanie Bueller.
Bet she didn't bring that up at the casting for Friends.

Never trust a bloke who tells you to relax.
Like the garage attendant who takes off in the Ferrari and runs the mileage up on it.

"You fellas have nothing to worry about. I'm a professional", he says.

Didn't Conrad Black say that when he bought into The Sydney Morning Herald?

Expensive snooty restaurants blow
But it's cool when you get handed warm towels in the brasco by the piss-boy.

You can never go too far
"Only the meek get pinched. The bold survive", says Ferris.

Baseball is the greatest game in the world... you just don't know it.
"Ayy batter batter, sa-wing batter."

Bonus trivia: The Wrigley Field scene is shot on location there only because the Chicago Cubs were in town on the day of the shooting; otherwise it would have been shot at the old Comiskey Park, because John Hughes is a White Sox fan (pity they're ten games under .500 this year but they did win the World Series in 2005).

Art is cool
The paintings selected for inclusion in the Art Institute of Chicago scenes were chosen because they were favorites of Hughes, who spent many hours at the Institute while growing up. Included was Edward Hopper's painting Nighthawks which was famously parodied by Gottfried Helnwein in his work Boulevard of Broken Dreams featuring Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart, James Dean, and Elvis Presley.

Karaoke rocks
And only soft-cocks and bores don't partake of it. If you don't have at least one great karaoke song in your repertoire, you should. Ferris has at least two including 'Danke Schoen' and 'Twist And Shout'.

When your girlfriend screams "get off the float!" , just make the pistol gesture at her with your fingers and keep singing.

Lucky rabbits' feet work and I don't care what you say
Ferris rubs his in the cab when they're pulled up next to his dad and they don't get sprung. It also leads to the next epiphany...

Your dad probably wants to shag your girlfriend
Creepy but true. Come on, have you seen how Mr Bueller looks at Sloane?

Attitude is everything
When Cameron says of Ferris, "As long as I've known him, everything works for him. There's nothing he can't handle. I can't handle anything. School, parents, the future. Ferris can do anything", you got the whole movie in one.

Ferris handles everything because he tells himself he can. Cameron can't handle anything because he tells himself he can't. Kids should have to watch this movie a hunnie times before Year 8, I'm telling you.

Musical interludes sometimes just work.
And the 'Twist and Shout' one in FBDO is one of the best.

Highlights include the gyrating construction worker and the shimmying window cleaner; the all-black dance team who come down the stairs, the identical triplet dudes with beards (wearing suits), the black guy who looks like he's having a fit when he's dancing, the chick who somersaults above the crowd, the little kid who covers his ears, Ferris' dad dancing in his office and the look Sloane gives Ferris while he's singing, like she wants to lick him everywhere that matters. Just gold.

The only other musical interlude that comes close in recent years for my money is the 'I Say a Little Prayer' rendition in My Best Friend's Wedding led by Rupert Everett. Advances the plot, gives you character information, is damn funny and you can't get it out of your head. I may be gay.

"Anyone who would nail me wouldn't go to a parade."
So says Ferris. Still trying to work out what this line means, 21 years later.

Parking inspectors suck
Even if they're ticketing Mr Rooney's car.

You gotta have friends
What can you say about buddies who'd send a singing nurse over to your house who recites: "I heard that you were feeling ill, headache, fever and a chill, I came to help restore your pluck because I'm the nurse that likes to..."

Don't marry the first woman you sleep with
Says Ferris: "Cameron's never been in love. At least no one's ever been in love with him. He's gonna marry the first girl he lays. And she's gonna treat him like sheesh because he's gonna kiss her ass for giving him what he's built-up in his mind as the end-all, be-all of human existance."

You all know my thoughts on promiscuity. Let's just say that having a few different shags before you commit to the one person for the rest of your life can save you some heartache. And cause some heartache. Damn, now I'm confused.

"You can't respect somebody who kisses your arse."
Translated from the American, as stated by Broderick: "She won't respect him (Cameron)because you can't respect someone who kisses your ass. It just doesn't work."

Tell me about it.

Bad boys do pull more roots
Charlie Sheen's character in the police station is a template for every bloke you should be scared of, if he's interested in your girlfriend. These guys are like crack cocaine for women; they know he's the worst thing possible for them, but the still pick up the pipe and pucker.

"Your problem is you"
When Sheen's character goes on to tell Jeanie Bueller, "you oughta spend a little more time dealing with yourself and a little less time worrying about what your brother does," he could be speaking for the planet. Third best line in the movie.

Bonus triva: FBDO won no major awards. Matthew Broderick did receive a 1987 Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture (Comedy/Musical). Guess who beat him? Paul Hogan for Crocodile Dundee.

Don't be scared
When Cameron sees the mileage has been run up on his dad's car, he goes into a 'coma', which then leads to the big emotional journey of the film.

After he 'wakes', he says he'd been meditating; "I sort of watched myself from inside. I realised it was ridiculous being afraid, worrying about everything, wishing I was dead, all that sheesh. I'm tired of it. This is best day of my life."

You said it brother.

You can't wind a speedometer back by going in reverse

Sometimes you gotta take a stand
Cameron gets some beautiful lines in this movie. When he realises the speedo can't be wound back, it has a huge impact and reverberates through his whole attitude.

"I gotta take a stand. I am not going to sit on my arse as the events that effect me unfold to determine the course of my life."

And then proceeds to kick the sheesh out of his dad's car. An incredibly violent and moving scene, even all these years later.

Women love drama
When the Ferrari goes backwards out the window of the Frye garage, Ferris looks horrified. Sloane? She smiles.

"You killed the car"
Another great line, and it leads to Ferris offering to take the heat for Cameron. I've got a few friends who'd do this for me as well. That's why they're my friends. That's why I'd do the same for them. I'm tearing-up as I type. Really.

"It's gonna be good"
"When Morris comes homes we're gonna have a little chat," says Cameron. He's passed through the fire and is going to confront his father and it's gonna be good. He's made the decision that it's going to be that way and you believe him.

"For the first time in his life he's gonna be just fine," says Ferris to Sloane. Ferris sees it. We all see it. And if you've seen this film enough times you realise this, Ferris Bueller's Day Off is actually Cameron's story. It should be called Cameron's Frye's Transformation but that wouldn't be as snappy.

Cameron is all of us who need to step up and take charge of our lives, who sit on our arses as the events that affect us unfold to determine the course of our lives.

And you thought you wouldn't read anything cool in today's blog? Shame on you.

There's always time to talk to women
Perhaps my favorite moment in the film is when Ferris is running home and takes a moment to stop and introduce himself to two girls sunning themselves in bikinis (even though it's 6pm).

This, and other timing problems are discussed more fully in the The Ferris Bueller Timeline Problem, if you have the time to read it. (

"You knew what you were doing when you woke up this morning"
Says Sloane of Ferris.

Do you? Or are you just floating downstream like a dead giraffe in Rwanda?

"Can you imagine someone sick as Ferris trying to walk home from hospital?"
On ya Jeanie. She finally comes full circle as well and helps Ferris deal with Mr Rooney.

So many people spend their life feeling jealous of friends and relatives, rather than grooving on their achievements and getting in on the fun. It's fun to be interested in other people's lives. Give it try. Just don't look in their bedroom window during sex.

"How'd you get to be so sweet?"
Asks Ferris's mum.

"Years of practice", he replies.

If you haven't been practising, it's not too late to start.

"Yep, I said it before, I'll say it again... moves pretty fast... you don't stop to look around once and while, you could miss it."

Interestingly, in the shooting script dated, July 24, 1985, this is the final line in the movie, spoken by Ferris: "Yeah, life is a carousel. A great big crazy ball of pure living, breathing joy and delight. You gotta get one."

But the message is the same; suck the juice from the seconds people. You only get one life.

"You're still here?"
When you watch all the way through the credits, Broderick appears in his bathrobe, incredulous the viewer is still hanging about: "It's over. Go", he says.

And so should you.

Subject: Re: Ferris Bueller's Day Off and the secret to life

Written By: Doc Brown on 07/22/07 at 6:45 pm

"Ferris Bueller, you're my hero."

Another good example for Back up your balonEy: Call the principal while your best friend is imitating your girl's dad so he knows it's not you playing a trick! Then the Rooney in your life reallly thinks his goose is cooked! ;D
"A family member dies, and you insult me! What the #@$% is the matter with you?!?"

Your Pal,


Subject: Ferris Bueller's Day Off and the secret to life

Written By: Dude111 on 02/25/18 at 6:40 am

An excelllent movie!!

A good guide to secrets of life there :)

Subject: Re: Ferris Bueller's Day Off and the secret to life

Written By: Howard on 02/26/18 at 5:23 am

An excelllent movie!!

A good guide to secrets of life there :)

I liked the film too.

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