Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is a piece of genetic mapping. It’s ingrained in my DNA. It’s deep inside. The movie is just as entertaining today as it was the first time night I watched it, at a fourth grade sleepover, four times in a row until we all passed out at 5am.
The movie, and the character of Ferris, changes over time because of my own life. As a kid, Ferris was the person I wanted to be in high school and then in college. Now, Ferris is the guy I want to be in life. The dude that takes a step back and realizes “we could all be dead tomorrow so let’s live a little.”
But now, because of one observation, the movie’s underlining meaning, and the character of Ferris Bueller, have completely changed. My view hasn’t just changed. This simple observation turned the whole movie on it’s damn head. It slapped me in the damn face.
I’ve seen Ferris Bueller’s Day Off probably half a dozen times or more in my life. I definitely consider it a classic movie… I really enjoy it every time I’ve seen it.
I recently watched it on Netflix on a whim, and noticed one brief scene which had somehow escaped my attention in the past. And it totally changed the meaning of the movie for me. Like, totally turned it on its head.
After the climactic scene, when Cameron ruins his dad’s car, the next scene with our hero is him standing alone with Sloan. They have a brief conversation:
Sloan: Do you think Cameron is going to be ok?
Ferris: Oh yeah, yeah sure, for the first time in his life… he’s going to be just fine.
Sloan looks at Ferris intently…
Sloan, almost knowingly: You knew what you were doing when you woke this morning didn’t you?
Ferris, with what appears to be feigned innocence: Me? Nah…
Then they kiss, and Ferris notices the time and runs off to get home before his parents do.
So what does this scene mean? Earlier, as Cameron sits in his catatonic state, Ferris says that he’s worried about Cam’s future. He’ll go off to one school, while Ferris goes to another. Cameron will fall in love with the first women he has sex with, and she’ll treat him like shit. Ferris is clearly concerned about his friend, and how people (including Cameron’s own father) walk all over him. Cameron never stands up for himself. However, by the end of the movie, we see that Cameron has grown. He has learned something about himself, and appears to be able to now confidently confront his father and the challenges that await him in life. I always understood this character development… it’s pretty obvious.
However, what was NOT clear to me was that this was Ferris’ plan when he woke up that morning. The whole day was orchestrated by Ferris with the specific intention of helping his friend grow a backbone and prepare him for a life on his own.
I guess I always thought it was a wacky adventure, and along the way Cameron grew up a little. But now I think I realize that the movie is about one guys mission, born of love and concern, to save his friend from a lifetime of misery before they go their separate ways.
Mind = BOOM! I love the movie, and the work of John Hughes, even more now.
I’m taking the day off. I’ve got a life to live. Carry on without me.