Study Guide

Ferris Bueller's Day Off Rules and Order

Rules and Order

JEANIE: You're letting him stay home? I can't believe this. If I was bleeding out my eyes, you guys would make me go to school. This is so unfair.
FERRIS: Jeanie, please don't be upset with me. You have your health. Be thankful. Ferris makes a big face at her, and makes a Shh! gesture
JEANIE: That's it. I want out of this family.

Seriously—what's Jeanie's deal? Why is she determined to bring Ferris down for breaking the rules? Not to delve too far into stereotypes, but shouldn't she be more concerned with her grades or that cute guy in her social studies class or some totally tubular legwarmers or Reagan's foreign policy or something?

FERRIS: The key to faking out the parents is the clammy hands. It's a good non-specific symptom; I'm a big believer in it. A lot of people will tell you that a good phony fever is a dead lock, but, uh... you get a nervous mother, you could wind up in a doctor's office. That's worse than school. You fake a stomach cramp, and when you're bent over, moaning and wailing, you lick your palms. It's a little childish and stupid, but then, so is high school.

There you have it: At base level, Ferris thinks high school is childish and stupid. So it's time to shake stuff up.

ROONEY: What is so dangerous about a character like Ferris Bueller is he gives good kids bad ideas.

Rooney's worried that Ferris's determination to break the rules that he, Rooney, is trying to enforce will lead to copycats and undermine his authority. Given how the movie's narrative goes down, if we were Rooney, we'd be more worried about a neighbor seeing us trying to break into a student's house.

GRACE: Oh, he's very popular, Ed. The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads—they all adore him. They think he's a righteous dude.
ROONEY: That is why I have got to catch him this time: to show these kids the example he sets is a first class ticket to nowhere!

Rooney is obsessed with Ferris not upsetting his world. Why? Because he's barely—just barely—maintaining order at his high school full of bored sportos and dweebies.

CAMERON: The 1961 Ferrari 250GT California. Less than a hundred were made. My father spent three years restoring this car. It is his love. It is his passion.
FERRIS: It is his fault he didn't lock the garage.

Whether it's his high school administration or his friend's dad's unbelievably posh garage, Ferris is all about exploiting weaknesses in the system.

CAMERON: No, no. Apparently, you don't understand. Ferris, he never drives it; he just rubs it with a diaper. Hey, remember how insane he went when I broke my retainer? Huh? C'mon, that was a little piece of plastic. This is a Ferrari.

Cameron's grown up under a ton of rules, as this nod to the torment he received for breaking his retainer attests, and that's made him skittish.

FERRIS: Hey, Cameron. You realize if we played by the rules right now we'd be in gym?

Few things in life are more satisfying than skipping gym. Er… did we say that out loud?

CAMERON: I don't know what I'm gonna do.
SLOANE: College.
CAMERON: Yeah, but to do what?
SLOANE: What are you interested in?
CAMERON: Nothing.
SLOANE: Me neither!
CAMERON: (to Ferris, singing on the parade float) YOU'RE CRAZY!
SLOANE: What do you think Ferris is gonna do?
CAMERON: He's gonna be a fry cook on Venus!

Two things to point out here, Shmooper: First, it's telling that Cameron, who never met a rule he couldn't fearfully follow, and Sloane, who seems like a pretty straight arrow unless Ferris is involved, are both all set to take the expected path and go to college, even though they have no interest in it. Meanwhile, they both agree that Ferris could do anything. Why couldn't they?

BOY IN POLICE STATION: What do you care if your brother ditches school?
JEANIE: Why should he get to ditch when everybody else has to go?
BOY IN POLICE STATION: You could ditch.
JEANIE: Yeah. I'd get caught.
BOY IN POLICE STATION: So you're pissed off because he ditches and doesn't get caught. Is that it?
JEANIE: Basically.
BOY IN POLICE STATION: Then your problem is you.
JEANIE: Excuse me?
BOY IN POLICE STATION: Excuse you. You ought to spend a little more time dealing with yourself, and a little less time worrying about what your brother does.

Ah, the wisdom of juvenile drug addicts. If Jeanie would quit worrying about, or perhaps being jealous of, her brother breaking the rules, she'd be a lot better off.

BOY IN POLICE STATION: What's your name?
JEANIE: It's Jean, but most guys call me Shauna.
BOY IN POLICE STATION: Okay, Jean.

We're not going to lie, Shmooper: We think Jeanie Bueller is hilarious. Here, she not only decides to be a chill chick who's cool with shirking authority, she also decides to adopt a whole new persona: Shauna. Why do you think she does that? Is it because being laidback is so out of character for her that she has to assume a whole new identity?