What You Might Have Missed in Ferris Bueller's Day Off

We all love Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. It became an instant classic. Guys wanted to be like him and the girls swooned over him. Matthew Broderick played Ferris perfectly, but there are parts to this storyline that still bothers me after all these years.

 One of the obvious things that struck me later on in life, is the fact that Ferris is the main character of the story, but his character never changes. Ferris never goes through any life changing events that caused him to take pause and take a look at his decisions and then decide that something needed to change. He gets away with everything, never gets into trouble with his parents, with his school, or with Cameron’s parents either.

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 Now you are probably thinking that I am jealous of Ferris or am just thinking like Mr. Rooney as an adult. No, Ferris is still the coolest guy in school and I would hang out with him anytime.

 However, the thing I do find most interesting, is that there are two characters that change quite a bit; one a bit more drastically than the other, but we will get to that in a second.

 Jeannie, the sister, starts out as a jealous sister. Her brother is the more popular one and gets away with bloody murder. She starts out like Mr. Rooney, doing everything she can to get Ferris intro trouble and prove to their parents that Ferris is not as perfect as he seems. She knows he is up to trickery. And in the process of trying to get Ferris in trouble, winds up getting herself in trouble, not only once, but twice as she speeds to try to beat Ferris home.

 When Jeannie meets the Charlie Sheen character, (who’s name in the movie is Garth Volbeck by the way), she is taken by him. Garth is the one who puts the idea in her head of why should she care what Ferris does? He turns the tables on her and turns her world is turned upside down. When she sees Ferris on the way home, she forgets this and speeds to beat him home, but then when she finally catches him and Rooney is there too, she then realizes she is just as bad as Rooney and maybe Garth (Charlie Sheen) is right.

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 The character who experiences the biggest transformation is Cameron. He changes so slowly in the film you barely even notice. But think back to the first scene Cameron is in; Ferris is calling him to get over to Ferris’s house for a cut day. Cameron is so depressed, he is deep under his covers and convincing himself that he is dead. Then, cut to the end of the movie where Cameron is saying when his dad comes home, he is going to have a little chat to fess up about the wrecked car. Cameron goes from being depressed and afraid of life to facing life head on.

 It almost leads me to believe that this whole entire cut day was not for Ferris himself and not even for him and Slone, but rather it was a rescue of his friend Cameron. Now I have seen the theories floating about Ferris being Cameron’s imaginary friend, but Cameron is still a real character. I don’t think that is far off to think Ferris is the character trying to save Cameron.

Think about it. The first phone call on his day off was to Cameron, to get him out of bed so they can go do stuff. Ferris pushes him to take a risk and take the nice vintage Ferrari out for a spin, and to have a good time. They go to the finest restaurant for lunch, they go to a Cubs game, they go to an art museum, and at the museum is that famous scene with Cameron, not Ferris. Then when Ferris jumps on the float to sing “Twist and Shout,” it was dedicated, not to Sloane, but to his friend “who has seen nothing good today.”

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 I don’t think this movie would have worked with Cameron as the main character. It would have been rather awkward and probably forgettable. Ferris would have come off as a hyper puppy dog who is bothersome and just wanting to get Cameron in trouble. There was a TV show around this time that had this premise called Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, and it failed miserably. The younger generation, such as myself, more identified with Ferris, who is quite the righteous dude and the undercurrent of the story of saving his friend Cameron makes Ferris much more well-rounded.

 Also, you can’t have this heartfelt ending without Cameron changing. What good would that fun had been if Cameron just goes back tomorrow to lie in his bed and thinking that he is dead? Cameron’s story gives Ferris’s cut day deeper meaning and makes it worth all of the trouble and great lengths Ferris went through …because he did it for his friend, and the story behind the story is about jealousy and depression, but if you did not stop and take a look around, you might miss it.

Ryan Acree