Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is a 1986 American teen comedy film written, co-produced, and directed by John Hughes, and co-produced by Tom Jacobson. The film stars Matthew Broderick as Ferris Bueller, a high-school slacker who spends a day off from school, with Mia Sara and Alan Ruck. Ferris regularly “breaks the fourth wall” to explain techniques and inner thoughts.
Hughes wrote the screenplay in less than a week. Filming began in September 1985 and finished in November. Featuring many landmarks, including the then Sears Tower and the Art Institute of Chicago, the film was Hughes’ love letter to Chicago: “I really wanted to capture as much of Chicago as I could. Not just in the architecture and landscape, but the spirit.”
Released by Paramount Pictures on June 11, 1986, the film became one of the top-grossing films of the year, receiving $70.1 million over a $5.8 million budget, and was enthusiastically acclaimed by critics and audiences alike. In 2014, the film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” In 2016, Paramount, Turner Classic Movies, and Fathom Events re-released the film and Pretty in Pink to celebrate their 30th anniversary.
In suburban Chicago, Illinois, near the end of the school year, high school senior Ferris Bueller fakes being sick to stay home. Throughout the film, Ferris frequently breaks the fourth wall to talk about his friends and give the audience advice on how to skip school. His parents believe him, though his sister Jeanie is not convinced. Dean of Students Edward R. Rooney suspects Ferris as playing truant again and commits to catching him.
Ferris convinces his friend Cameron Frye, who is legitimately absent due to illness, to help lure Ferris’ girlfriend Sloane Peterson out of school by reporting that her grandmother has died. To trick Rooney, Ferris sways Cameron to let them use his father’s prized 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder to collect Sloane. Cameron is dismayed when Ferris continues to use the car to drive them into downtown Chicago to spend the day, but Ferris promises they will return it as it was.
The trio leave the car with parking garage attendants who immediately take the car for a joy ride after they leave. Ferris, Cameron, and Sloane sight-see around the city, including the Art Institute of Chicago, Sears Tower, Chicago Mercantile Exchange, and Wrigley Field, while narrowly dodging Mr. Bueller. Cameron remains disinterested, and Ferris attempts to cheer him up by spontaneously joining a parade float during the Von Steuben Day parade and lip-syncing Wayne Newton‘s cover of “Danke Schoen“, as well as a rendition of The Beatles‘ “Twist and Shout” that excites the gathered crowds.
Meanwhile, Rooney investigates the Bueller home to try to prove Ferris’ truancy, getting into several pratfalls. At the same time, Jeanie, frustrated that the entire school believes Ferris has come down with a deadly illness, skips class and returns home to confront him, only to run into, attack, and knock out Rooney, who flees while she calls the police; when they arrive, they arrest her for filing a false report and contact her mother to collect her. While waiting, she meets a juvenile delinquent (Charlie Sheen) who advises her not to worry so much about Ferris. Mrs. Bueller arrives at the station, upset about having to forgo a house sale, only to find Jeanie kissing the delinquent, infuriating her more.
Ferris and his friends collect the Ferrari and depart for home, but shortly discover many miles have been added to the odometer and Cameron becomes catatonic. Back at Cameron’s garage, Ferris sets the car on blocks and runs it in reverse to try to take miles off the odometer without success. Cameron finally snaps, and lets out his anger against his controlling father by repeatedly kicking the car. This causes it to fall off the blocks and race in reverse through the back of the garage and into the ravine below. Ferris offers to take the blame, but Cameron asserts he will stand up against his father.
Ferris returns Sloane home and realizes his parents are due home soon. As he races on foot through the neighborhood he is nearly hit by Jeanie, who is driving their mother home. She speeds off trying to beat Ferris home. Ferris makes it home first to find Rooney waiting for him outside. Jeanie races into the house as their mother talks to their father about her behavior that day. Jeanie discovers Rooney threatening Ferris and tells Rooney that she was just helping to return Ferris from the hospital and shows Rooney his wallet that she had found from his earlier break-in. Rooney flees from the family dog while Ferris rushes back to his bedroom to greet his parents while feigning his waning illness. As they leave, Ferris reminds the audience, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
During the end credits, a defeated Rooney heads home and is picked up by a school bus, further humiliated by the students. After the credits, Ferris tells the audience the film is over and to go home.