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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ferris Bueller's Day Off is a beloved teen comedy from John Hughes. While it's about skipping school -- with almost zero negative consequences (something that you might want to get a word in about) -- it's also charming and clever. Expect frequent profanity (including "f--k" and "s--t") and pretty iffy behavior from the main character (Ferris lies, shows off, and steals a car), as well as some kissing/making-out, teen looking at a painting of nude woman online, scuffles between characters, and some background smoking and drinking. Mostly, the movie glorifies defiance of authority. And while it's a little edgy, teens can handle it.
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What's the story?
In FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF, Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) wants a break from classroom drudgery to have fun in Chicago. Faking illness, Bueller's parents allow him to stay in bed to "recover." Once they're gone he ropes his friends, Cameron (Alan Ruck) and Sloane (Mia Sara), into joining him. The trio, driving Cameron's dad's treasured 1961 Ferrari convertible, hit the town. Meanwhile. a grim school faculty member (Jeffrey Jones) pursues, eager to catch Bueller. And Ferris' kid sister (Jennifer Grey) resents her older brother getting away with such antics constantly, and tries to rat him out. Despite a few close scrapes, Ferris triumphs.
Is it any good?
Exuberant and stacked hopelessly in favor of its chatty title character, this movie is both enjoyable and the king of the "smart kid/dumb parent" trend. You don't have to be as bright as Ferris Bueller to see how young viewers would patronize movies that show them as savvy and resourceful, outsmarting uncool authorities, moms, and dads at every turn. But back when this premiered in 1986, the clever Bueller was a refreshing change from a too-common movie image of teenage boys as sex- and drug-crazed dolts on the run from mad slashers. John Hughes made his reputation creating quirky young characters with rich inner lives and realistic personal concerns.
It's both a key to this movie's popularity, and a little disquieting, that Ferris never faces any consequences. Even Bart Simpson usually has to take responsibility -- and as for Alfie, there's no indication the filmmakers approve his lifestyle. But Hughes justifies Ferris as a healthy response to self-centered and materialistic adults like Cameron's father. In the end it's poor Cameron who's going to take a fall for the gang, but even he looks forward to the opportunity to defy his (unseen) old man, accused of valuing the Ferrari more than the son. A good question, though, would be whether carefree Ferris will be any better when he grows up. If he grows up.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how people defy authority, like Ferris does in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Do your kids understand the difference between Ferris's fantasy presentation and what would really happen if they did what he did?
The filmmakers justify Ferris' attitude as a healthy response to self-centered, dumb, and materialistic adults. Do you agree?
A good question would be whether the carefree Ferris is going to be any better when he grows up (if he grows up).
- In theaters: June 11, 1986
- On DVD or streaming: October 19, 2000
- Cast: Alan Ruck, Jeffrey Jones, Matthew Broderick
- Director: John Hughes
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Character strengths: Curiosity
- Run time: 103 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: language
- Last updated: April 13, 2020
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