A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Friendship and believing in yourself are strong themes, and there are positive aspects to the idea of living life to the fullest. Frequent rule-breaking is celebrated and played for laughs, with main character never facing the consequences of his actions. Questioning authority is mostly used as an excuse to have fun, but also helps a character develop the confidence to stand up to an oppressive parent.
Positive Role Models
Main teen characters lie, cheat, steal, and cut class with abandon, and the movie largely excuses their behavior as standing up to unfeeling adults. Ferris can be rude and manipulative, even toward his friends, but he also shows love and loyalty. He's clever and creative, though he mostly uses those attributes for personal gain. Both Mr. Rooney and Ferris' sister are driven by a desire to expose his behavior, but their vengeance doesn't pay. Others around Ferris learn and grow, yet he doesn't change.
Characters are primarily White and middle- to upper-class, with Black characters shown only briefly in stereotypical ways, including as part of a dance troupe. A character asks an auto repair man whether he speaks English, making presumptions about his origin based on his job and perceived social standing. A character uses negative language surrounding mental health, including "psychotic" and "out of your goddamn mind." Sexist behavior includes a man saying a teen girl wears too much makeup and that people think his sister is a "whore" for doing the same. An additional incident sees a character tell another to "be a man."
Did we miss something on diversity? Suggest an update.
Violence & Scariness
Scuffles; an adult is attacked by both a snarling dog and a teen, during which he's kicked in the face and passes out. A car falls from a height and is smashed. A dog is poisoned with flowers and appears dead. Passing mention of suicidal thoughts, bleeding from the eyes, a kidney transplant, and a grandmother's death. A character pretends to lose consciousness underwater; an incident of dangerous driving.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Occasional kissing/making out, references to seeing a girl change before she goes swimming (nothing shown), a woman dressed as a nurse delivers a racy "candygram." Ferris looks at an illustration of a nude woman on a computer and appears to enlarge her breast size. Passing mention of herpes.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Fairly frequent profanity includes "ass," "s--t," "s--thead," "bulls--t," "bitch," "bastard." One use of "f--k." "Piss," "goddammit," "hell," "damn," "crap," "slut," "whore," "d--khead," "dips--t," "Christ's sake," "blow yourself," and use of the middle finger.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
Ferrari brand is referred to and shown on-screen frequently as desirable and aspirational.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Background drinking/smoking during a restaurant scene. Prescription pill bottles lying around a teen's bedroom. A character in a police station appears under the influence of drugs.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Ferris Bueller's Day Off is a beloved teen comedy from director John Hughes (The Breakfast Club). While it's about skipping school -- with almost no negative consequences (something families may want to discuss) -- it's also charming and clever. Expect frequent profanity (including "s--t" and a use of "f--k") and manipulative and rule-breaking behavior from the main character (who lies, shows off, and steals a car), as well as some kissing/making out, a teen looking at an illustration of a nude woman on a computer, scuffles between characters, and background smoking and drinking. Mostly, the movie glorifies defying authority, though Ferris (Matthew Broderick) and his friends also show curiosity and moments of teamwork. The majority of the cast are White, with Black characters stereotyped in supporting roles, and sexist behavior is normalized. While it's a little edgy, older tweens and up will likely enjoy the energetic, carefree quality and understand that similar behavior in real life would have less positive outcomes. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
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/oblivious parent" trend. You don't have to be as bright as the hero in Ferris Bueller's Day Off to see how young viewers would enjoy movies that show them as savvy and resourceful, outsmarting uncool authorities at every turn. But back when this premiered in 1986, the clever Bueller was a refreshing change from a too common movie image of teens at the mercy of drugs, their libidos, or the occasional serial slasher. Director John Hughes made his reputation by creating quirky young characters like Ferris who have 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 for his behavior. Even Bart Simpson usually has to take responsibility. But Hughes justifies Ferris' choices as a healthy response to self-centered and materialistic adults like Cameron's father. In the end, it's poor Cameron who takes the fall for the gang, but even he looks forward to the opportunity to defy his (unseen) "old man," who is accused of valuing the Ferrari more than his son. A good question, though, would be whether carefree Ferris will be any better when (if?) he grows up.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.