5 Things You Missed in Ferris Bueller's Day Off
The weird, amusing details of John Hughes's '80s classic
By Dustin Krcatovich
Based on the play-by-play of the Cubs/Braves game during a scene in John Hughes's 1986 classic Ferris Bueller's Day Off, it has been determined that the film takes place exactly 29 years ago, on June 5, 1985. Yes, somebody went to the trouble to figure this out. Never mind that this doesn't actually make sense, since Bueller (Matthew Broderick) says at a later point in the film that he and his best buddy Cameron (Alan Ruck) still have "a couple months" left before their high school graduation, which would usually happen in June. Then again, if that timeline is correct, then why the hell is it 70-plus degrees in Chicago in April? What does it all mean?
Don't worry about it. It's a John Hughes movie, for chrissakes. It's supposed to be fun and goofy. Who said it all had to make sense?
Not to disparage Hughes: The man wrote and/or directed some of the finer screwball comedies of the 1980s. He's not exactly perfect, but he is good, and while he could've apparently benefited from a better continuity editor, he does have an eye for other details. He's also a geek at heart, a fact that inevitably sneaks its way into his films (I bet you a sawbuck he picked out that prominently placed Cabaret Voltaire poster for Ferris's bedroom). Here are a few of the weird details that you may have missed if you haven't revisited this little gem in a while (if you have Netflix Streaming, now's your chance).
1. Sonic Youth's original drummer, Richard Edson, plays the parking lot attendant.
He went on to become a celebrated character actor later (perhaps most famously as Vito in Do the Right Thing), but in 1985, Richard Edson had been in exactly two feature films: Jim Jarmusch's Stranger Than Paradise, and the Madonna vehicle Desperately Seeking Susan. Since he was basically a Hollywood nobody at this point, chances are that Edson was hired because either Hughes or the casting director was a fan of Edson's drumming in Sonic Youth and Konk.
2. The funniest scene in the whole movie is in the end credits.
If you're one of those people who walks out as the credits start rolling, you missed the purest gold of the whole film. Jeffrey Jones's performance as the bloodied and bedraggled Principal Rooney in this scene is a work of Chaplin-esque brilliance, and few lines in film are as immortal as "Gummy bear? It's been in my pocket, they're real warm and soft." That it's all set to Yello's absurd, inexplicable hit "Oh Yeah" is just icing on the cake.
3. It's like a love letter to French New Wave.
I know, it sounds like a stretch, but seriously: There are obvious shades of Godard in Ferris's incessant breaking of the fourth wall, and the dynamic between Ferris, Cameron, and Sloane is pure Band of Outsiders (with a slight touch of Jules and Jim... come on, Cameron's obviously in love with Sloane, right?).
4. The museum scene.
What the hell is this doing in an ostensibly ephemeral 1980s teen comedy? Yeah, the cheesy New Age score fits, but look at Cameron meditating on identity and mortality while staring at Georges Seurat's A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. That's heavy.
5. Charlie Sheen's cameo is not just hilarious, it's eerily prescient.
"Why are you here?"
It's like he's already got the Tiger Blood coursing through his veins.