Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) shakes things up on a parade float
Ferris Bueller's Day Off is a 1986 film written and directed by John Hughes.
Ferris Bueller is a wise-cracking high school student from the fictional suburb of Shermer, Illinois (located close to Chicago, Illinois), who decides to take a day off from school for a little fun by pretending to be sick. As Ferris says "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop to look around once in a while, you could miss it." Ferris convinces his best friend Cameron to take his father's 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California out for a spin, and tricks the high school principal, Ed Rooney, into thinking his girlfriend Sloan's grandmother is dead, in effect excusing her from school.
Ben Stein delivers a memorable performance as the Economics Teacher. He discusses the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act and how it was perceived by some at the time to be related to what was famously dubbed "Voodoo Economics" by George H.W. Bush, while semi-conscious students look on. The, for many, familiar feeling of extreme tedium experienced by students during a particularly dull lecture is captured in this scene.
Rooney sees Ferris's attempt to get a little fun as an act of rebellion against his authority. He sets out to catch Ferris and make an example of him for other students. Meanwhile Ferris's resentful sister Jeanie, jealous of Ferris, decides to leave school and uncover his scheme on her own.
During Ferris's "day off," he enjoys a baseball game at Wrigley Field, dines at an elite restaurant, sneaks onto a float during the Von Steuben Day Parade to lip-sync Danke Schoen and Twist and Shout, enjoys the view at the top of the Sears Tower and visits the Art Institute of Chicago.
Later on, the Ferrari is "killed" and Cameron is forced to stand up to his father for the first time in his life.
After sharing a kiss with his girlfriend, Ferris realizes he is late and dashes back home, running through neighbors' backyards, hopping over fences, and arriving just in time so his parents can check on him.
Television series spinoff
In 1990, NBC created a television series based on Ferris Bueller's Day Off, titled simply Ferris Bueller. It was styled similarly to Fox network's Parker Lewis Can't Lose, and both began airing in September, 1990. Unlike Parker Lewis Can't Lose, which ran three seasons, Ferris Bueller was a ratings failure, and was canceled after only four months on the air.
- At the time of filming, Matthew Broderick was 23, Jennifer Grey was 25, Alan Ruck was 30 and Mia Sara was only 17.
- In an early draft of the script Ferris had two additional younger siblings.
- Charlie Sheen, who played the drug addict at the police station to which Jeannie is taken, stayed awake for more than 48 hours before the scene was shot to produce the desired drugged-out effect.
- Cindy Pickett and Lyman Ward, who played Ferris' parents, married in real life after filming this movie.
- Sloane is based on a high school version of Nancy Hughes, John's wife. Cameron and Garth Volbeck (Charlie Sheen's druggie character) are based on acquaintances of Hughes from high school.
- Cameron's fake "Mr. Peterson" voice was based on an old drama coach Ruck and Broderick used to study under. Hughes never met the man and didn't understand the little in-joke at all, but it cracked up the two actors so much they used it for the voice.
- An entire subplot involving a Ferris prank on a Chicago radio station regarding NASA was cut from the film and the trailers (which had to be retrieved from the theaters they were already sent to) due to the Challenger explosion in January of 1986. (This entire subplot is explained on the FBDO commentary DVD.)
- The Synthesizer/sampler used to create Ferris's cough and vomit sounds was an E-mu Emulator II made in the early 1980s by E-mu.
- Ferris wears a different outfit in each scene before he and Cameron go to pick up Sloane.
Director John Hughes refused to release a soundtrack album for FBDO because he thought the eclectic collection of songs in the movie would not work together.
If they were ever compiled in an album, it would include:
- Chicago, Illinois, USA
- Glencoe, Illinois, USA
- Highland Park, Illinois, USA (Cameron's House and Ferrari Garage)
- Long Beach, California, USA (Bueller home, exterior)
- Northbrook, Illinois, USA (exterior, some interior of high school)
- Winnetka , Illinois, USA