Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) is a born con artist. When he’s not talking a mile a minute to his girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara) and his best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck), he’s stepping aside, facing the camera and addressing the audience.
In his dedication to the joy of loafing, Ferris convinces his parents he’s ill, the student body starts raising money to save his life with a kidney transplant, and the dean of students thinks all sorts of people are dying.
But Ferris isn’t dying. He’s just lying, and it’s the ninth time in the same semester.
He convinces Cameron to ‘borrow’ his father’s irreplaceable 1961 red Ferrari, and then swing by school to kidnap Sloane.
A large part of the film (directed by John Hughes) is then devoted to elaborate schemes designed to keep Ferris and his pals out of school: Answering machines are fixed, a fake body run by strings attached to a doorknob rolls around in Ferris’s bed to fool concerned and nosy parents, a sickbed message is recorded through a loudspeaker to answer the doorbell and deter inquisitive truant officers.
Some of this subterfuge is ingenious, but it soon wears thin.
While the kids are bulldozing their way into an expensive restaurant, catching a ball game at Wrigley Field, and staging their own musical production number from Grease in the middle of a mysterious parade the principal – determined to catch Ferris red-handed – slinks around like a CIA agent on secret manoeuvres.
Hold the phone . . . if it’s a holiday, with floats and marching bands and 10,000 extras, why does anyone need to play hooky from school in the first place?
Brat-packer Charlie Sheen appears in a side-splitting cameo role as a drugged-to-the-eyeballs boy that spiteful sister Jeannie encounters at a police station. To get the necessary spaced-out effect, full method acting would have been a step too far, but Sheen did keep himself awake for 48 hours before the scene was shot.
A short-lived TV sitcom series followed in 1990-1991, with Charlie Schlatter filling the Broderick role, and an early appearance from Jennifer Aniston (future Friends superstar) as Ferris’s sister, Jeannie.