5 life lessons from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Main cast of Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is an unquestionable classic. I don’t know how interesting it would be to anyone who’s young enough to have never known a time without broadband and smartphones, but I rewatched this movie recently – after watching Spiderman: Homecoming, as there’s a little tribute to Bueller in it – and felt that there’s a lot to learn from this 80s classic. OK, so there are obvious lessons about how some fashions have come around again (Jeanie’s patch-covered bag and oversized jacket are so this season) and how some really have not (seriously, Ferris, a sweater vest?!), but we can also learn much about life.

1) Believe in yourself
At the start of the movie, when discussing why missing a test on European socialism isn’t important, Ferris tells us that ‘a person should not believe in -isms, he should believe in himself’. He then spends the rest of the film convincing Cameron to stand up to his father. OK, so it takes some pretty extreme circumstances before Cameron realises there’s no way out but, in his own weird way, Ferris really is looking out for his best friend. Also, look how much he gets done in a day just by believing it’s all possible.

2) You can make any activity seem desirable to teenagers if you tell them not to do it
You may remember this movie being full of teenage japes and escapades but, as Hadley Freeman pointed out in her excellent book Be Awesome, ‘when Ferris, Sloane and Cameron manage to evade grown-up supervision […] they go to a French restaurant, a museum and a parade. These are not cunning teenagers enjoying a rare day of freedom, this is an elderly couple on vacation enjoying their final days of mobility’. Because they’re not supposed to be doing these things (they’re supposed to be in school, obviously), it all seems so much more exciting than if their parents had suggested a nice meal and a visit to a gallery.

3) Dancing spreads joy
Also, lip syncing isn’t just for drag queens. Come on, don’t tell me you didn’t enjoy Ferris giving it his all on that parade float. Star quality isn’t just about vocal performance… although he gives us a bit of that too in the shower scene.

4) Younger siblings can get away with murder
Well, if you’re an older sibling, it certainly feels like the younger ones get away with more than you ever could. Your kid brother pretends to be ill to get out of school and the whole town rallies round him, but you merely try to catch him faking and you somehow end up at the police station. Typical! However, we don’t always hate you for it as much as we like to make out. Despite everything that happens during this one day of chaos, Ferris’ older sister Jeanie still sticks up for him at the end.

5) Life moves pretty fast
‘If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.’ Very true, wise young Mr Bueller.

Main image via Adweek, others via The Hollywood Reporter and Salon.com. Credit: Paramount Pictures.

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