I absolutely love the John Hughes classic Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. However, for years, I’ve questioned whether such a day could actually happen without the help of time travel. One of my bucket list items is to try and recreate the events of Ferris’ ninth sick day. I just don’t think it can be done.
Think about it… Ferris and Cameron manipulate Ed Rooney into releasing Simone into their custody. They drive from the suburbs into downtown Chicago. They convince a snobby maitre’d that Ferris is, in fact, Abe Froman, the Sausage King of Chicago. They visit the John Hancock building. They survey priceless works of art. They take in a Cubs game. they crash a parade. They go for a dip in a hot tub. They kill the car. And Ferris still gets home in time to fool his parents into thinking he’s been in bed all day. The audience is expected to accept that Ferris and his friends pulled this off in the course of your average school day? I don’t think so.Recently, I got into an over analysis of this movie with some friends. The conversation raised some interesting questions. What if something else was going on? What if someone purposely set the events of that day into motion in order to give Ferris his perfect adventure? Why would anyone do such a thing? Well, what if Ferris really was sick? In fact, what if Ferris was dying?
Ferris breaks the fourth wall (we’ll come back to that later) to tell the audience that the day off is really about breaking Cameron out of his shell. Maybe Cameron was in cahoots with Simone and the Bueller family in order to make Ferris’ dying wish come true. Make Ferris believe that he was saving Cameron from a life of misery. This way, Ferris becomes the hero of his own story.So many events would have had to be set up in advance for the day to work out. First of all, Rooney would have to be in on it. Ferris needs an antagonist. Who better than a school administrator? Simone wouldn’t have known about the principal’s role, but she’s going along with whatever Cameron has planned for Ferris.
The big giveaway that the day is a set up comes with the parade. How many parades are scheduled in downtown Chicago in the middle of a work day? And that some high school kid could just commandeer a parade float on charm alone? The parade planners were in on it, too.This conspiracy may even include the entire Cubs organization. I’m not sure how they would have managed to make sure Ferris caught a ball in the stands, but they did.
Of course, Cameron’s father would have to be in on the plan, as well. And he was willing to sacrifice his Ferrari. That’s commitment.
The Buellers would also have to be heavily involved. Remember, Ferris was shocked that they bought into his faking sick to get out of school. They didn’t have to buy it. They just had to play along. Jean obviously knew about the plan, but she wasn’t on board. She was clearly jealous, thinking that no one would go to the same lengths for her if she found herself in the same situation. By the end of the day, she comes around, thanks to her encounter with Charlie Sheen, who was also in on the ruse.
And let’s go back to the whole breaking the fourth wall thing. Ferris addressing an audience was just part of his delusion, possibly brought on by the brain tumor. When he’s talking to the audience about the Ferrari while he’s in the restaurant bathroom, his dad is hiding in a stall. You think he couldn’t hear his son monologuing? Mr. Bueller was obviously there to pick up the tab that his high school aged son could not afford to pay, but he couldn’t let Ferris know he was there. That would have destroyed the illusion.
Ferris was just a good kid who got dealt a nasty hand. He was diagnosed with a terminal illness and his way of dealing with it was to retreat into a fantasy wherein he was popular and charming and, basically, the center of everyone’s universe. He was surrounded by friends, family, and a community that loved and supported him. Think about all that money the high school kids tried to raise for him. It’s not their fault they mistakenly believed he needed a new kidney.
We should all be so lucky to have the kind of support system that Ferris had in his final days. it’s the kind of thing that you would read about on Facebook that people would like and share and comment about how much it made them cry. And I bet you’ll never watch Ferris Buller’s Day Off the same way again.