On June 11, 1986, a smart alecky teen in a sweater vest encouraged kids across America to rebel against authority and seize the perfect sunny school day.
In light of that looming anniversary, a writer for the Atlantic has suggested that we all need to “get over” our Bueller obsession because, really, the beloved John Hughes comedy is just the story of an entitled kid who was nothing like any of us were in high school.
He does have a point about the entitlement and the fact that none of us were ever as lucky or universally popular as Ferris. But this John Hughes movie — perhaps the best one the filmmaker ever made — has endured, rightfully, for a number of reasons.
For starters, it’s an almost perfectly executed comedy: energetic, well paced and tinged with the suspense generated by our assumption that at some point, Ferris will get caught. It also gave us a Ferris that, as played pitch perfectly by Matthew Broderick, effectively and charmingly broke the fourth wall, inviting us to be in on his long con of the Man and live vicariously through him. And all of us — be us high-schoolers hungry for a Senior Skip Day or beleaguered cubicle workers tempted to call in sick — can relate to the desire to deceive our elders and bosses, blow off everything and do whatever we want. In addition to all that, Cameron’s impression of George Peterson is really funny.
But most important, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” gave us permission, for 103 minutes, to take the cinematic equivalent of a joy ride in a candy-apple Ferrari. And that’s why then and now, it continues to resonate. And that’s also why, in honor of its 25th birthday, I’ve made this list of “Bueller”-related contributions to pop culture.
25. “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” showed us all how to use crash test dummies, fake answering machine messages, phony phone calls and Casios that make barfing sounds in order to perpetuate a carefully orchestrated lie.
Imagine what lengths Ferris would have needed to go to if cellphones had existed in 1986.
24. Jennifer Grey as Jeannie Bueller.
Bitter, vindictive and possessing the eyes of an angry squirrel, Grey was such an effective Jeannie that it’s easy to imagine how “Bueller” could have been recast as a slasher flick, with her in the role of brother-killer.
23. Jennifer Aniston as Jeannie Bueller.
Admittedly, the TV show version of the movie was less memorable.
22. Ferris Bueller gave this guy extra street cred.
I speak of Edward McNally, the man who may have inspired the character and wrote a Post piece about that fact.
21. Emma Stone’s shower scene in “Easy A.”
A number of teen movies have copied off of “Ferris Bueller’s” notes, including this one from last year, which gave Stone a Broderick-esque shower mohawk.
20. The catch phrase “Save Ferris,” as well as a ska band called Save Ferris that does a semi-decent cover of “Come On Eileen.”
19. Thanks to Cameron Frye (Alan Ruck), “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” increased awareness of the issues faced by hypochondriacs.
Isn’t it time that we all “let my Cameron go”?
18. “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose”
A bit better than the “Ferris Bueller” TV show, and a bit longer-lived.
17. The line: “So that’s how it is in their family.”
Still quoted by many, on a regular basis.
16. The real-life marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Bueller
“Why are you here?” “Drugs.”
14. A rash of re-edited trailers.
Online, no one seems to tire of creating remixed versions of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” clips, including this indie version of “Bueller” that circulated this year.
13. It gave us a classic movie coda.
“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” didn’t invent the notion of planting an Easter egg after the credits. But it was one of the first mainstream movies to do it so effectively that almost everyone knew not to leave the theater until after the scrolling of all those names.
12. Sweater vests and Red Wings jerseys as fashion statement.
All right, so Ferris and Cameron didn’t necessarily spark a fashion craze. Their costumes have become somewhat iconic, though, as demonstrated by the way they pop in some of these works of art.
11. The pairing of great works of art with a Dream Academy Smiths cover.
We’d never look at the work of Seurat again without seeing Cameron Frye’s shocked expression.
10. Grace the receptionist and the “righteous dude” quote.
This wise woman (played by Edie McClurg) kept a ludicrous amount of pencils in her hair, and possessed a remarkable understanding of high school cliques.
9. A memorable baseball moment at Wrigley Field.
Not only did this change the way we chanted “Hey, batter batter,” it has also prompted intense baseball-geek speculation about whether the scene was shot during an actual Cubs-Braves game.
8. The renewed popularity of Wayne Newton’s “Danke Schoen.”
Did you ever sing this to yourself quietly before you saw “Ferris Bueller”? Didn’t think so.
7. Abe Froman
6. The ubiquity of the song “Oh Yeah” by Yello.
The “chicka chicka”-as-an-audio-cue-for-awesomeness can never be escaped. Which might not necessarily be a good thing, but is certainly a notable pop culture accomplishment.
5. The fixation on that red 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California.
I think we can all agree that it was so choice, and looks great flying through the air in downtown Chicago.
4. The most well-known use of a Beatles song in a non-Beatles movie.
Best. parade. ever. (“Twist and Shout” begins at the two-minute mark.)
3. The line Ben Stein will forever be remembered for, no matter what he says for the rest of his life.
2. Matthew Broderick being forever associated with Ferris.
He’s won Tony Awards, starred in numerous other films and married Sarah Jessica Parker. And yet, as he noted during the John Hughes tribute at the 2010 Academy Awards, he’s still referred to as Ferris on a daily basis.
1. Ferris’s “Life moves pretty fast” philosophy.
Barbara Bush once quoted this in a speech and many of us quote it on a regular basis without actually living up to its mandate. But every time we watch “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” he reminds us again that, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around every once in a while, you could miss it.”