Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is an extremely likable movie and an enduring classic. More than 30 years after its theatrical release in 1986, it remains a favorite thanks to the charm of star Matthew Broderick, but also because it’s just so relatable. There isn’t an adult or teenager alive who wouldn’t want to ditch all responsibilities for a day of unbridled, epic fun with zero consequences. Ferris Bueller pulls it off in this exercise in wish fulfillment, a reminder the importance of living in the moment, written and directed by ’80s teen movie maestro John Hughes.
Among its many lessons, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off gave the world the modern-day proverb, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." Well, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off moves pretty fast, too, and perhaps everyone has seen it so many times that they didn’t stop and look around and realize that there are a lot of baffling events in the movie. Here are some of the biggest head-scratchers in the popular teen flick.
Ferris wants a car, which would be a step down
Part of Ferris Bueller’s machinations early in the film involve him securing the use of a car for the day. Even though he is of legal driving age, he does not have a vehicle of his own, nor does he have access to one. Ferris comes across as a bit of a spoiled brat when, while hacking into his school records to reduce his number of absences, he remarks, "I asked for a car, I got a computer. How’s that for being born under a bad sign?" The thing is that Ferris wasn’t born under a bad sign whatsoever. His computer is just one of the many extremely expensive toys that fill his large bedroom.
In addition to the apparently internet-enabled-in-the-mid-’80s computer (an IBM model in the $1,500-plus range), he’s also got a $650 Carver DTL-100 CD player, a $1,595 Carver 2000 receiver, and the $430 AudioSource EQ-One. The gem of his collection: the high-end E-mu Emulator II synthesizer/keyboard, a device that cost $8,000. He also jams away on a Gretsch White Falcon electric guitar, a classic and thus very expensive instrument.
So while Ferris’ sister, Jeannie, is the sibling with the car, he got a much better deal, and he illogically complains about it. His stuff boasts a cumulative value of well more than Jeannie’s small and sensible Pontiac Fiero, which cost their parents around $8,000. Sell your stuff, Bueller!
Cameron’s sickness goes away instantly
Having successfully fooled his parents by pretending to be extremely sick, Ferris Bueller’s next big machination comes in convincing his best friend Cameron to join him on his epic day trip to Chicago. In a clever bit of irony, Cameron has already gotten out of school for the day, as he’s legitimately and severely under the weather. Ferris callously doesn’t believe him, citing Cameron’s hypochondriac tendencies, although Cameron does appear to be quite ill — he’s very congested, feverish, and doesn’t feel like he can even move.
Somehow, Ferris is able to rouse him and bring him along on the trip. And just like that, Cameron is fine, from beset with a suite of debilitating symptoms to dining in a nice restaurant and attending a Chicago Cubs game. Not once during the day do viewers see Cameron becoming dizzy with fever, requesting a nap, or knocking back a slug of DayQuil. He apparently was faking it, or he was miraculously cured. But neither of those options make sense for Cameron, who Ferris explains is so uptight "that if you stuck a lump of coal up his a**, in two weeks you’d have a diamond."
It’s also puzzling how Ferris would put down his supposed best friend like that. But then, it’s hard to discern how Ferris and Cameron are friends at all. They have completely different personalities and slightly annoy each other.
There’s no security for Cameron’s dad’s sports car
It’s almost as if Ferris only invites Cameron on his day off because he wants access to Cameron’s dad’s car. Ferris doesn’t have a car of his own, and his girlfriend, Sloane, presumably doesn’t either, so he’s got to get some Chicago-bound wheels courtesy of his BFF, Cameron Frye. Ferris gets a little too greedy and ambitious, however, and wants to live up his day on the town in style, and has his heart set on temporarily stealing the extremely conspicuous and flashy classic car owned by Cameron’s tyrannical father: a red 1961 Ferrari 250 GT convertible.
It’s a pretty sweet ride, and extremely valuable; according to Cameron "less than a hundred were made" and his dad "spent three years" restoring the vehicle. This car is the precious little baby of Mr. Frye, and he keeps it in a dedicated glass enclosure. And yet, despite its monetary and sentimental value, the elder Frye provides little to no security for it. It’s just sitting there, without even the protection of The Club or a boot, in the garage, which Cameron and Ferris can easily access. Heck, Cameron has the keys to the car; it’s almost as if Mr. Frye wants it to get stolen.
Principal Rooney is fooled by a hat
In opposition to his elaborate plan to bust out of his house — placing a dummy in his bed to make it look like he’s sleeping off his sickness, made all the more convincing with the addition of synthesized sound effects — Ferris Bueller’s scheme to get his girlfriend, Sloane Peterson, out of school for the day is surprisingly, laughably low-tech.
He gets Cameron to pretend to be Sloane’s father, and they call in some fake news about how Sloane’s grandmother has died. Ferris and Cameron then head over to the school to grab their third, just as Sloane is escorted out of class. While Ferris may have briefed her about his plans earlier, viewers don’t see that, so there’s a chance that for a period of time, Sloane actually thought her grandmother was dead. Real nice boyfriend you’ve got there, Sloane.
When Ferris arrives, he has to disguise himself as Mr. Peterson, and he does so in a ridiculously unbelievable way: in an oversized trench coat and old-fashioned hat. And yet dean of students Mr. Rooney, who is obsessed with Ferris Bueller and would be able to recognize him (if not the signs of one of his schemes) is fooled by the lazy ruse, even after Ferris gives Sloane a long, wet kiss.
There’s no way Ferris is "the sausage king of Chicago"
Ferris Bueller is insufferable, so used to getting his way that he gleefully manipulates others with a smug sense of entitlement. This is especially evident when he drags Cameron and Sloane to Chez Quis, a classically fancy restaurant in the heart of downtown Chicago. Ferris doesn’t have a very-much-required reservation to dine at this exclusive eatery, which is a little odd considering how exquisitely he planned the rest of his day off. Or perhaps he did that on purpose so he can get his kicks by demeaning workers in the service industry, specifically Chez Quis’s snooty maître d.
Ferris sneaks a peak at the restaurant’s reservation book and pretends to be Abe Froman, booked for a table for three. The maître d threatens to call the cops if Ferris doesn’t "take the kids and go back to the clubhouse," but is ultimately tricked when Ferris makes Sloane call the restaurant and ask to speak with Abe Froman "the sausage king of Chicago." Sloane has added to the absurd lie, and somehow the maître d believes this and seats the trio, led by a baby-faced teenager who is obviously not a meat magnate.
Also, how does Ferris pay for this expensive lunch? In the beginning of the scene, he slips the maître d a laughably small unit of currency and he doesn’t have a car because his parents won’t buy him one. Ferris obviously doesn’t have a lot of cash.
Who’s in charge of this parade?
One of the most famous scenes in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is the Von Steuben Day Parade sequence, spotlighting an annual Chicago event that celebrates German-American culture. That would explain why somebody’s blasting Wayne Newton’s "Danke Schoen" (German for "thank you") during the festivities. Harder to understand: most everything else about the parade scene. The film seemingly takes place in June, while Von Steuben Day is a September occurrence. And seeing as how it’s a big cultural event and fun thing that shuts down several downtown city blocks, the festivities are held on a Saturday — not, as depicted in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, on a weekday.
Not just the setup, but the heart of this scene is a bit baffling, too. Huge parades are extremely well planned out and highly secured… but this one just lets some random teen up onto a float to lip-sync to an old Wayne Newton gem, of which a 16-year-old high school student inexplicably knows all the words? And why does the float have a microphone anyway? They have no use for it and it’s not hooked up to any kind of sound system.
This all leads into a massive synchronized dance number, led by Ferris’ lip-sync to the Beatles‘ "Twist and Shout." It’s a little more realistic that a kid would know that song, but it’s not realistic at all that a few different groups of people seem to have put together dance routines to go along with this otherwise completely spontaneous performance.
How many hours are in this Day Off, anyway?
If Ferris Bueller applied some of the ambition and energy he uses to getting out of school and enjoying his self-created vacation day, he’d be a Harvard-bound valedictorian. He has intricately planned his big day off (while still leaving open the door to a spontaneous moment or two), treating his girlfriend and best friend to a slew of extremely fun activities — including visits to the Sears Tower, the Art Institute of Chicago, a meal at a French restaurant, a jaunt to a Chicago Cubs game, and the Von Steuben Day Parade.
One major problem with packing all that into one day (to say nothing of increasing their chances of getting spotted and caught) is that there’s no way Ferris, Cameron, and Sloane could fit in all of those things and more in the limited time they’ve got. It’s mid-morning by the time Ferris convinces Cameron to release his father’s Ferrari, then he has to jailbreak Sloane from school, and then they have to make a commute into Chicago. Then, once they’re in the city, they have to leave the car in a garage.
Factoring in travel time between activities, plus the time-sucking problems of the huge amount of traffic jams that would result from the parade and a mid-day Major League Baseball game (which alone would kill at least a couple of hours), there’s no way Ferris is getting back to the suburbs before his parents.
Principal Rooney is the villain for doing his job
Because Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is an entry in the canon of John Hughes-written movies for teens, the villain is naturally the enemy of all kids who just want to have fun: a school administrator. In this film, that’s dean of students Ed Rooney, and he hates Ferris Bueller. "I don’t trust his kid any farther than I can throw him," he tells school secretary Grace Wheelberg. But then he says exactly why he’s not among the many divergent social groups who think Ferris Bueller is "a righteous dude" — and his feelings are both reasonable and adhere to his job description. "He gives good kids bad ideas. The last thing I need at this point in my career is 1,500 Ferris Bueller disciples running around these halls."
It’s Rooney’s job to keep the student body not only in line, but in class — and Ferris Bueller is skipping class all the time. He has so many absences that it’s a problem, and Ferris hacks into his attendance records to eliminate them. Rooney literally sees it happen on his computer monitor, which is likely enough cause to suspend or expel Bueller then and there. Instead, he spends the movie tracking Bueller to prove the kid isn’t really sick, which he doesn’t need to do at all. Still, he goes through a lot of nonsense in his attempts to catch Bueller in the act of truancy… which means he’s just a guy trying to do his job.
It’s impossible to determine Jeannie’s age
In addition to Vice Principal Rooney (and the sense of encroaching adulthood with its strictly structured rules for living), the villain of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is Jeannie Bueller (Jennifer Grey), Ferris’ very own sister. Throughout the entire movie, she’s a bundle of rage, resentment, and jealousy, seemingly the only teen in Illinois who doesn’t fall for her brother’s schemes. While she ultimately helps Ferris get away with sneaking out of the house for a day of fun, she otherwise spends her brother’s day off trying to get him found out and punished by their parents. That’s some classic bratty younger sibling behavior… but is Jeannie Ferris’s younger sister?
There are plenty of other indicators that suggest she’s the older Bueller kid. She sneeringly calls him "Junior" on occasion, which is definitely not something one would call a person older than themselves. Ferris resents Jeannie a little because she has a coveted car — and wouldn’t parents give the older kid the first cart? But then again, the entire movie is about Ferris’s anxiety over graduating soon. He’s a senior, so if Jeannie was older than him she’d be a fifth-year high school student. Hey, maybe they’re the same age — Ferris and Jeannie could be twins!