Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is a 1986 American coming-of-age comedy film written, produced and directed by John Hughes.
The film follows high school senior Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick), who decides to skip school and spend the day in downtown Chicago. Accompanied by his girlfriend Sloane Peterson (Mia Sara) and his best friend Cameron Frye (Alan Ruck), he creatively avoids his school’s Dean of Students Edward Rooney (Jeffrey Jones), his resentful sister Jeanie (Jennifer Grey), and his parents. During the film, Bueller frequently breaks the fourth wall by speaking directly to the camera to explain to the audience his thoughts and techniques.
Hughes wrote the screenplay in less than a week and shot the film—on a budget of $5.8 million—over several months in late 1985. Featuring many famous Chicago landmarks including the then Sears Tower and the Art Institute of Chicago, the film was Hughes’ love letter to the city: “I really wanted to capture as much of Chicago as I could. Not just in the architecture and landscape, but the spirit.”
Released by Paramount Pictures on June 11, 1986, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off became one of the top-grossing films of the year and was enthusiastically received by critics and audiences alike.
High school senior Ferris Bueller decides to skip school on a nice spring day by faking an illness to his parents. He goads his depressive best friend Cameron Frye to join him, and despite Cameron’s objections, they take Mr. Frye’s prized 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder convertible in a ruse to get Ferris’ girlfriend Sloane Peterson out of class. Word of Ferris’ supposed dire illness spreads improbably through both the school and the city, and sympathy and donations for his care come in, but two people see through the deception: Ferris’ sarcastic sister Jeanie, outraged by his ability to get away with misbehavior, and the school’s Dean of Students, Edward Rooney, who believes Ferris to be truant.
Ferris, Sloane, and Cameron drive into downtown Chicago, leaving the Ferrari with two garage attendants, who promptly take it on a joyride. The three friends experience a charmed, carefree day in the city, including lunch at a fancy restaurant, a Cubs game at Wrigley Field, and visits to the Sears Tower, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Ferris crashes the annual Von Steuben Day Parade, lip-synching to The Beatles’ “Twist and Shout” on a float as the crowd joins him singing and dancing.
Meanwhile, Mr. Rooney goes off-campus to try to find Ferris. He goes to the Buellers’ home where he is briefly fooled by Ferris’ voice greeting him through the intercom, but quickly figures out that it’s a recording rigged to the doorbell. In his efforts to gain entry to the house, he is attacked by the family’s dog, and his clothes are ruined. Jeanie returns home with the same intention, and she and Mr. Rooney surprise each other inside. She mistakes Rooney for an intruder and, after kicking him down, runs off screaming to call the police. Rooney leaves to chase down his car, which is being towed for parking in front of a fire hydrant. The police take Jeanie to the police station for filing a false report, where she talks to a juvenile delinquent (Charlie Sheen), who tells her that she needs to worry less about Ferris and more about herself. Jeanie becomes annoyed, but is found kissing the delinquent when her mother arrives to pick her up.
At the end of the day, Ferris and friends retrieve the Ferrari, but discover on the way home that over a hundred miles have been added to the odometer. Cameron, fearing his father’s reaction, freaks out and appears to go catatonic, but eventually responds, confessing that he’d been faking it, while contemplating how he has allowed his fear of everything (including of his father) to dominate his life. Back at Cameron’s house, they jack up the rear wheels of the car and run the vehicle in reverse, but it does not remove the miles on the odometer as they expected. Cameron unleashes his pent-up anger against his father, kicking and damaging the front of the Ferrari. He realizes it is time for him to stand up to his father and vows to accept the consequences of the damage he has done. Leaning against the car, he accidentally knocks it off the jack, and it crashes through the glass wall of the garage, landing in a ravine behind the house. Ferris offers to take the blame, but Cameron insists that he will take it himself.
Ferris walks Sloane home, and they begin to reflect on the day when Ferris realizes he has five minutes to get home before his parents discover him missing. As he runs home, he has close calls being spotted by each of his parents, and Jeanie races to get there first to expose him. He is caught at the back door by Mr. Rooney, who tells Ferris to expect another year of high school under his close personal supervision. However, Jeanie has found Rooney’s wallet on the kitchen floor, and figured out that he was the intruder. With a change of heart, she uses this knowledge to tacitly blackmail him into letting the matter drop, and leaves him to be attacked by the dog once again. This gives Ferris just enough time to get back into bed before his parents check on him, leaving them convinced of his honesty.
Rooney hobbles down the street and is picked up by a school bus full of students.
In a post-credits scene, Ferris exits his bathroom and tells the audience, “You’re still here? It’s over, go home,” before leaving the hall, looking at the screen suspiciously, and shoos the audience away, saying “Go.”
Learn more about the concepts, principles and symbolism behind the subliminals found in this film: