Comfort Entertainment: A New Perspective on’Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’

Screenshot of Alan Ruck, Mia Sara, and Matthew Broderick from ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’. Copyright goes to Paramount Pictures.

Hey! Hallie here!

‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ is one of those movies that every 80s fan has seen at least once. It’s a classic movie that’s constantly referenced in pop culture. The movie earns all that hype too! It initially comes across as a regular 80s teen movie, and to be fair, the plot doesn’t really dispute this. It matches plenty of similar 80s movie plots where teens skip class to go out and do something crazy. But this movie perfects that idea and gives us plenty more to enjoy. Fourth wall breaking has never been as excellently done as it was in this movie. Not many protagonists are nearly as charming as Ferris Bueller. And not many crazy teen movies capture teens in a way that’s actually relatable to most teenagers. I obviously love this movie, but my opinions on the events and characters in the movie have changed over time. So without any further delay, let’s go through some of the things I noticed the last time I watched ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’.

Ferris, Cameron, and Sloane Aren’t Just Rowdy Teens:

The three main characters in this film can seem pretty irresponsible. They skip class during their final year of high school without caring at all about what they’re missing, they break rules put in place to keep them safe, and they wave away all repercussions as though they won’t face any. Their actions paint them as rowdy and uncontrollable. But, as the movie goes on, it becomes clear that isn’t true. Cameron is such a goody-two-shoes that he makes himself sick trying to live up to his father’s expectations of him. Sloane reveals that she’s actually expecting commitment from Ferris, even marriage, not just a high-school fling. And Ferris, who is definitely the least responsible of the group, makes it clear that the reason he’s crafting the huge plan is because he knows that life is going to mess up his relationship with his friends immediately after he graduates. He speaks to the audience multiple times about the fact that he might not even be able to see Cameron anymore once he goes off to college. This level of maturity proves that all of these characters are more than they seem. And this is why they’re so relatable to teens. So many adults are willing to take these characters at face value. To brush them off as funny troublemakers and move on. But all teens can relate to the dread they feel when they’re asked to step out of a comfortable space, like high school, and figure out what they want to do with their lives. I’ve completed college and I still don’t know what I want to do with my life. So now, watching this movie again, I look at scenes like the one where Cameron and Sloane confide in each other that they aren’t really interested in pursuing anything and I find something painfully real in it. These characters are breaking the rules in order to cope with an uncertain future. And that angle is much more mature than many credit Ferris, Cameron, and Sloane for being.

Ferris Is THAT Friend:

I won’t go as far as to say that Ferris is a bad friend. He genuinely cares about both Cameron and Sloane and he frequently makes it his mission to ensure they’re having fun. That said, he’s absolutely the annoying friend. The one who constantly needs something, even if it’s not something you want to agree to. Sure, Cameron needs some time to enjoy himself outside of the time he spends sick because of his father, but Ferris forced Cameron to stress himself out even more in order to join in on all the fun. Cameron had to make a fake call to Rooney as Sloane’s father to get her out of school, give Ferris his father’s prized car for the day, and had to fight off feeling sick the entire time. And it was Cameron who ultimately had to suffer the most for their day out. Cameron was the only one who couldn’t hide the evidence of their wrongdoing because of the destruction of his father’s car. Some of the repercussions were brought on by Cameron, but it was Ferris who instigated the situation against Cameron’s will. As for Sloane, Ferris constantly seeks her attention, but he also seeks the attention of other women he meets in the movie. Sloane knows that Ferris is devoted to her, but she’s also frequently asked to support and aid Ferris in his hijinks while he flirts with other women. Ferris’ charms always win his friends back in the end, but he’s indisputably an annoying friend.

Jeanie Has a Right to be Frustrated:

Given the fact that I just spent plenty of time criticizing Ferris for being annoying, you’re probably thinking I’m going to highlight how annoying Ferris is as a brother too, right? Actually, no. To be honest, we get a lot more of Ferris as a friend in this movie than we get Ferris as a brother. But, if not for Ferris, Jeanie definitely has a right to be frustrated because of the way everyone else treats her. Namely her parents. Just look at the way her parents treat Ferris as opposed to her. Jeanie doesn’t skip school. She isn’t that much of a troublemaker. But her parents dote over Ferris, who is a huge mischief maker, while never giving her the time of day. When Ferris claims he’s sick in a very over-the-top manner that Jeanie can see through immediately, his parents don’t question it for a second. When Rooney calls Ferris’ mother to tell her that he’s been absent nine days, she adamantly denies it as if it’s an impossibility. When Jeanie finds an intruder (Rooney) in her house and calls the cops, her mom doesn’t believe her. The police even tell her mother that, though they couldn’t find evidence of an intruder, Jeanie was still obviously shaken up. But her mother refuses to hear any of her excuses and scolds her all the way home for preventing her from closing a major deal at work. Jeanie is clearly tired of trying so hard to get people to like her, including her parents, when it always seems like Ferris wins by default. It’s this exact thing that draws her towards Charlie Sheen’s bad boy when she meets him at the police station. And yet, despite everything Jeanie has to deal with, she still decides to let that resentment surrounding Ferris go. At the end of the film she saves him from Rooney and helps him complete his ruse. I’d say all of that makes her a pretty understandable character.

Those are only a handful of the things I’ve come to appreciate going through this movie again. I love this movie even more every time I watch it. It set a precedent for involving the audience in the story while also directly connecting us to the message of the film. The events of the movie are incredible and insane, but they task every audience member, of any age, to ask themselves a realistic question. Are we stopping to enjoy our lives? Are we taking breaks from our responsibilities to pursue the things that we can truly appreciate and enjoy? They’re important questions and nothing has made me want to answer them more than ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

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