Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, by John Hughes, is a classic romantic comedy that tells the story of a mischievous high school student skipping school with his friends to have fun. It also criticizes the mundane American education system. There is not a lot to unfold on the surface of the film. The audience is immediately drawn to Ferris Bueller’s ability to get away with everything and how he is one step ahead of the game in anything he plans.
Ferris struggles to get out of bed and receives sympathy from his parents. They let him have the day off school, and as soon as they leave for work, Ferris starts acting on his plans. He calls his friend Cameron, who actually has a high fever, and urges him to come over and seize the day. This includes sneaking Ferris’s girlfriend, Sloane, from school without getting caught by Ed Rooney, an uptight principal, who is willing to go above and beyond to catch Ferris, even if that means he gets drowned in mud and gets chased by a dog. Cameron is hesitant, but eventually follows Ferris’s plan of sneaking Sloane out. The trio heads to Chicago in Cameron’s father’s bright red Ferrari, much to Cameron’s disapproval. They venture through art museums, tall buildings, expensive restaurants, and even join in on a parade. Ferris has set up a decoy plan back at home, with automated voice messages at the doorbell, a mannequin on his bed, and he even manages to change his total absences in the school’s system. Principal Ed Rooney also takes a partial day off to go after Ferris, but fails to do anything successfully. He loses his shoes in a puddle, his car is towed, and he is chased by the Bueller family’s beloved dog.
Ferris and his friends bring the car back in one piece and try to run the miles off the car, but the car flies out of the window and falls off a cliff. Ferris suspects that Cameron will freak out, but he does not. Cameron realizes that it’s time to stand up to his father after being pushed around for so many years and that he has developed a fear of taking risks and doing things he enjoys. Personally, I believe this is part of the critique of strict cohesion to rules set by schools and parents, which hinders creativity in young adults, something Ferris Bueller ultimately tries to stray away from. The last challenge Ferris must overcome is running home on foot before his family comes home after work to check on him. He nearly comes to his demise while trying to get into the door, Ed Rooney, but is saved by his sister, Jeanie, as she identifies Rooney as a trespasser. The epilogue of the film shows Ferris walking around in a bathrobe saying “It’s over, go home.” I certainly doubt Ferris’s antics are over, though.