I first saw Ferris Bueller’s Day Off eight years ago in my seventh grade health class on the day before spring break; a white flag from the teacher relinquishing any attempts of keeping us focused the day before vacation. I was skeptical at first—who names their child Ferris?—but I was won over three minutes into the film, when moments after his hoodwinked parents leave his room, a bed-headed and eager-eyed Ferris Bueller, played by Matthew Broderick, sits up in bed, looks into the camera and says three words: “They bought it.”
“How could I possibly be expected to handle school on a day like this?” Bueller asks following his performance as the despondently ill son.
As a high school senior on an unwavering quest to have fun, Bueller skips school, borrows a Ferrari and turns the city of Chicago into his playground for the day, cleverly evading every adult and rule in his path while exploring museums, dining in fancy restaurants and hijacking parades.
With memorable lines that are still quoted today, from “Bueller…Bueller…” to Ferris’s “life moves pretty fast” adage, the film has been coined a classic- a lighthearted and amusing story about staring into the abyss of adulthood.
Bueller and his friends are about to graduate and unable to ignore the fact that their lives are about to change. This underlying sense of expectancy reveals itself subtly through the film.
“He can’t be wound up this tight and go to college—his roommate will kill him,” Ferris says humorously of his hypochondriac best friend Cameron Frye.
Ferris’s girlfriend Sloane Peterson and Frye share a touching moment when they both confess they have no idea what they want to do after high school. They feel the inevitable departure of their youth quickly approaching as they prepare to graduate.
Ferris Bueller strikes a chord not just with adolescents but people of all ages. It portrays having fun as an occurrence that must be actively sought, which is something that becomes increasingly true the older you become. Bueller views the day as an opportunity to do something great and refuses to be tainted by the cynicism of others. For this reason, Bueller and his friends experience a day good enough to be their last. In fact, the only characters in the film who do not enjoy themselves are those worrying about things they cannot control, like the disagreeable Dean of Students Ed Rooney or Bueller’s resentful sister Jeannie, both of whom futilely spend the day trying to catch him.
Thirty years since its release on June 11, 1986, the film’s popularity has increased and shows no signs of diminishing. Ferris Bueller, the “righteous dude” who can get you out of summer school, continues to charm the country, having fun for the sake of having fun and proving that life is best lived as play.