Ferris Bueller's Day Off



Despite language, iffy behavior, this is a comedy classic.
Parents recommendPopular with kids
  • Review Date: January 20, 2006
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1986
  • Running Time: 103 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Despite the movie's lighthearted take on some naughty behavior, Ferris never faces any consequences for the rules he's broken. But friendship and believing in yourself are also themes, and there's something to be said for Ferris' approach to living life to the fullest.

Positive role models

The main teen characters lie, cheat, and cut class with abandon, and the script's rather loopy logic defends them as standing up to unfeeling adult society. But Ferris is a loyal friend, and there's no denying that he's clever and creative. Mr. Rooney is driven by vengeance; he takes it too far, but he's also falsely made out to be a pervert.


Some scuffles; an adult is attacked by both a teenage girl and a dog. A car falls over a ledge and is smashed.


Kissing/making out, references to seeing a girl change before she goes in the water (nothing shown), voluptuous woman dressed as a nurse delivers most of a racy "candygram" (it's implied she's a prostitute).


Fairly frequent profanity includes "ass," "s--t," "bitch," and "f--k."


Ferrari automobiles and the city of Chicago couldn't ask for better promotions.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Background drinking/smoking during a restaurant scene.

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, 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.

What's the story?

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?


It's both a key to FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF'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.

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. The flip side of that is that his scripts leaned heavily to what film critics Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel rightly diagnosed as the smart kids/dumb parents syndrome. 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. Exuberant and stacked hopelessly in favor of its chatty title character, Ferris Bueller's Day Off is both the most enjoyable and the smarmiest of the trend.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how people defy authority. 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).

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 11, 1986
DVD release date:October 19, 2000
Cast:Alan Ruck, Jeffrey Jones, Matthew Broderick
Director:John Hughes
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Run time:103 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:language

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 12 year old Written byHuntingwithdaughters October 12, 2010

A fun romp

I see no danger in our A student stealing a car because she saw a comedy where kids do it. If she really wanted to take a day off we would let her, so I doubt the school skipping is an issue. When my wife gets angry her language is worse than anything in this movie.
Kid, 12 years old October 31, 2010
awesome,but 2 f--ks,tons of s--ts and b-tches, and other words
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Kid, 12 years old July 29, 2009

It's suitable for teenagers, just a little risky for tweens.

I think that this movie is hilarious and very well done, but it does have some inappropriate scenes. Like how Ferris and his girl-friend spread the love quite a bit, and using some bad language. The characters aren't the best role-models since they skipped school to have some fun in the city and how they get into some trouble along the way.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing


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