I was only four when the John Hughes classic “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” hit theaters. I watched it once in high school, and then caught a few more scenes in college when I was flipping through channels. I wouldn’t say it was ever a favorite of mine but I thought it was cute.
My husband is a much bigger John Hughes fan than I, and since we started dating I’ve caught up on a few of the “greats” he claims I missed. Pretty in Pink. Some Kind of Wonderful. Christmas Vacation. And of course, Ferris Bueller — on several occasions. I have to admit that I’ve liked them all, some more than others. But upon closer review, my favorite Hughes film by far is definitely the one-day look at the lives of the world’s most famous truant Ferris, his jealous little sister Jeannie, carefree 80s girl-next-door Sloane and the lovably uptight Cameron.
We have watched a few of the scenes with our own kids, even though it freaks my stepson out that his name is said (seemingly) hundreds of times throughout the course of the movie. Watching it with the six-and-under crowd is interesting. They want to know why Ferris lies about being sick (uh….). And why his sister is always so mean to him. They also can’t believe the PRINCIPAL would break into Ferris’ house (or park in front of a fire hydrant — totally uncool, even to elementary students).
They laugh a lot though, especially when Ferris sings in the shower. While I’m certainly not endorsing Ferris Bueller as a role model for school attendance, there are some other character gems he demonstrates that aren’t half bad life lessons. Here’s three:
3 Life Lessons From Ferris Bueller
We create our own limitations.The great thorn in Ferris’ side throughout the movie is his wound-up, rule-abiding, but seemingly depressed, friend Cameron. Ferris is the the foil to Cameron’s rationality. Repeatedly Cameron lists the many legitimate reasons why the trio can’t, oh I don’t know…. skip school, attend a mid-day baseball game at Wrigley Field or “borrow” an irreplaceable classic Ferrari. Though Cameron pleads his case well, Ferris is unfazed. Though he is the same age as Cameron and sees the world from the same physical standpoint, Ferris refuses to accept the same limitations. The world is his oyster and ripe with possibility. Forget police barricades and lack of a good singing voice — anyone can jump on a parade float and lipsync to Danke Schoen and Twist and Shout if he or she is innovative enough (see video clip below). The words “I can’t” aren’t in Ferris’ vocabulary. And I like that about him.
Family loyalty comes first. The secondary storyline of the movie is little sister Jeannie trying to sabotage the school-skipping plan of her popular, charismatic brother Ferris. There is no doubt that she has always lived in her brother’s long shadow. She decides that enough is enough. If no one else will bust her brother, she will. Instead of living her own life, and spending energy on what she can control (herself), she wastes the day in futile attempts at exposing her brother’s lies. She ends up in the police station (making out with Charlie Sheen… but whatever) and must explain to her mother why she herself skipped school (a story her mom doesn’t believe).
Despite the misery she goes through on his account, Jeannie saves her brother from being caught by his principal. It’s one thing for her to turn him in, but it’s a totally different story if an outsider is trying to call him out.
Sibling jealousy exists and our kids seem to throw each other under the bus pretty quickly when something is broken or missing around the house. But when it comes to people outside the family, the loyalty runs deep. I know they will envy each other from time to time, but like Jeannie, I hope they have each others’ backs when the stakes are highest.
Time is fleeting. There is a purposeful feeling of nostalgia in the movie and anyone who has ever been a senior in high school, or faced leaving home for the first time,or gotten married, can easily relate. Now that the film is nearly 30 (!!!) years old, there is an added layer of the march of time in the faces of the actors. Jennifer Grey is now pretty unrecognizable thanks to plastic surgery and has a face that looks nothing like the curly-headed pistol Jeannie of Ferris Bueller fame. Charlie Sheen, in his first role ever in the film, is still a bad-ass but a grumpy, old-man-trying-to-seem-young kind. He’s sort of a jerk too, like for real. Matthew Broderick has aged pretty well actually but is now a dad of three — his oldest is almost a teenager! Alan Ruck (Cameron) has gray hair! Mia Sara is still really beautiful but in a mom-next-door sort of way.
If these iconic teenagers can get old, is there any hope for the rest of us? Or, more disturbingly, how soon will the time come when our own kids are well past the prime Ferris Bueller years? It seems silly, but watching Ferris Bueller makes me want to hug my kids a little tighter and sit with them a little longer at bedtime. Time marches on. Period. And too quickly, in my mommy opinion. All we have is today so we had better make the most of it.
In the wise words of Ferris Bueller:
Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
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Category: Life Changes
Tags: Ferris Bueller's Day Off