Study Guide

Ferris Bueller's Day Off Choices

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FERRIS: How can I possibly be expected to handle school on a day like this?

Ah, the age old "But it's so nice outside" defense. Ferris drops it early in the movie to justify his initial choice to play hooky.

FERRIS: Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Ferris unleashes this ol' chestnut about the importance of making choices not once but twice in the movie: here, and at the very end. Some might call it an important central theme.

FERRIS: If you're not over here in fifteen minutes, you can find a new best friend.
CAMERON: You've been saying that since the fifth grade.

Here, Ferris gives Cameron an ultimatum in an attempt to force him to choose going to Ferris's house over staying home. Based on Cameron's response, it's not a very effective challenge, and probably never has been. Also, Cameron and Ferris have been besties since they were ten. Aw.

FERRIS: I'm so disappointed in Cameron! Twenty bucks says he's in his car right now debating on whether or not to go out.
CAMERON: (in his car) He'll keep calling me. He'll keep calling me until I come over. He'll make me feel guilty. This is uh... This is ridiculous. Okay, I'll go. I'll go, I'll go, I'll go, I'll go. What—I'll go. S***.

This scene is played for laughs, as Cameron's indecision leaves him literally hopping mad in his driveway, but when you think about it, his decision paralysis is heartbreaking. He's a dude in a lot of pain.

Ferris slowly pulls the Ferrari out of the garage. CAMERON: No! Ferris, forget it! You're just gonna have to think of something else. I'm putting my foot down. Ferris keeps driving.
CAMERON: How about we rent a nice Cadillac? My treat! We could call a limo! A nice stretch job with a TV and a bar! How about that?
FERRIS: (backing the car up slightly) Come on! Live a little! Cameron blesses himself and walks to the car.

You go, Cameron Frye. Here, Cameron chooses not only to let Ferris nick the Ferrari, but also to join him and "live a little."

FERRIS: The question isn't "What are we going to do?" The question is "What aren't we going to do?"
CAMERON: Please don't say we're not going to take the car home. Please don't say we're not going to take the car home. Please don't say we're not going to take the car home.
FERRIS: (to the camera) If you had access to a car like this, would you take it back right away? (beat)
FERRIS: Neither would I.

This exchange does a good job of illustrating the difference in ideology between Ferris and P.C. (pre-catharsis) Cameron. For Ferris, the choices are endless when it comes to what to do today, and there's only one choice when the question is "Do you take a rad Ferrari out for a spin?" Meanwhile, Cameron makes the frustrating, contradictory choices to: (A) return the car; and (B) do absolutely nothing to make that happen.

CAMERON: Okay Ferris, can we just let it go, please?
SLOANE: Ferris, please. You've gone too far. We're going to get busted.
FERRIS: (A) You can never go too far. (B) If I'm gonna get busted, it is not gonna be by a guy like that.

Sometimes Ferris chooses to be too in the moment, like here, when he's about to steal the lunch reservation of someone he's never met and who, if this wasn't a movie, would probably be arriving soon, hungry and wicked upset.

FERRIS: Four thousand restaurants in the downtown area, I pick the one my father goes to.
CAMERON: We're pinched, for sure.
FERRIS: Only the meek get pinched. The bold survive. Let's go.
CAMERON: Let's surrender.
FERRIS: Never.

Here, Ferris unleashes his inner King Arthur and commands his friends to never choose to surrender.

CAMERON: I am not going to sit on my ass as the events that affect me unfold to determine the course of my life. I'm going to take a stand. I'm going to defend it. Right or wrong, I'm going to defend it.

Now he's getting it. By the end of the movie, Cameron has evolved into someone who chooses to take a stand for what he thinks is right. Old Cameron would've backed down and chosen to ride things out in a bed full of snotty Kleenexes.

FERRIS: Cameron, it's my fault. I'll take the heat for it. We'll wait for your father to come home, and when he gets here, I'll tell him that I did it. He hates me anyway.
CAMERON: No, I'll take it. No, I'll take it.
FERRIS: No, you don't want this much heat.
CAMERON: I want it. If I didn't want it, I wouldn't have let you take the car out this morning.
FERRIS: I made you take the car this morning.
CAMERON: I could've stopped you. Ferris gives him an "Oh, really?" look. CAMERON: It is possible to stop Mr. Ferris Bueller, you know. No. I want it. I'm going to take it. That's it.

Once Cameron chooses to stand up to his dad, he decides to really go for it. More specifically, he decides to take all of the punishment for a totaled Ferrari. Oof.

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