Ferris Bueller's Day Off easily makes it into the top three of my favourite films from the 80s. Matthew Broderick played Ferris Bueller, the popular kid you always wanted to be, who is simply too cool for school and fakes an illness to take a day off school with his highly-strung friend Cameron and his beautiful girlfriend Sloane.
Ferris Bueller and his friends enjoy the illicit freedom from school which is enhanced by ‘borrowing’ Cameron’s father’s Ferrari 250 GT California for the day unaware that not everyone is convinced by his fake illness. Ferris’ jealous sister Jeanie, played by Jennifer Grey (best known for her starring role in Dirty Dancing) , uncovers the deception and sets out to blow his cover while the evil school Dean of Students, Edward Rooney (Jeffrey Jones) also believes Ferris to be playing truant and attempts to catch him out. Everyone else believes Ferris to be unwell and since he is so popular he gains a huge amount of sympathy and attention from the whole town, much to the annoyance of his sister.
Mr. Rooney pays a visit to see Ferris at home but is greeted by a recorded message on a tape recorder when he pushes the intercom button. Smelling a rat, Rooney tries to break into the house, losing a shoe in the mud in the process, and is met by Jeanie who memorably high-kicks him repeatedly in the face and runs upstairs to call the police. Later at the police station Jeanie ends up making out with Charlie Sheen who ironically plays an arrested drug addict.
Meanwhile Ferris, Cameron and Sloane have a whale of a time at the Von Steuben Day parade in town, and Ferris dances on the top of one of the floats and lip-syncs to “Twist and Shout” in one of the most memorable movie scenes of the 80s. The friends return to pick up the car from the parking lot only to discover that the Ferrari has been well used by the parking attendants in their absence and now has hundreds of miles on the odometer, sending Cameron into a panic attack.
After unsuccessfully trying to take the extra miles off the clock by jacking up the car and running the car in reverse, Cameron realises that he is going to have to face up to his father about what he has done. As he finally comes to terms with this challenging situation, he leans on the Ferrari knocking it off the axle stands and sending it reversing at high speed out of the garage and crashing fatally into the ravine beyond.
After an eventful day of high jinx, Ferris Bueller heads home seconds ahead of his parents as they return from work just in time to pretend he has spent the whole day in bed. The evil Mr. Rooney is still on the prowl and is ultimately attacked by the Buellers’ dog and ends up having to hitch a ride home, dishevelled, shoeless and sore.
Next time you watch the film (and you will watch it again, I’m sure!) check out the license plates of the various vehicles used and you’ll spot abbreviated references to other films made by the same director, John Hughes. Katie's = VCTN (National Lampoon's Vacation); Jeannie's = TBC (The Breakfast Club); Tom's = MMOM (Mr. Mom); Rooney's = 4FBDO (Ferris Bueller's Day Off). The exception to the movie name theme is Cameron's Ferrari (seen when Ferris first pulls out of the garage), the license plate of which reads NRVOUS.