There have been times in recent years when I have been less than proud of this great nation of ours. Times when I have wondered if it is capable of doing any good, of producing anything of value, or if it is only a place of strife and madness. At such times, it does me good to remember the many incredible things our country has done: space stuff. Chick-Fil-A sauce. And last, but not least, the cinematic masterpiece that is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
I am not a child of the 80s; nevertheless, I am well versed in this classic gem—my parents raised me right. If you’ve never seen it (somehow), you should remedy that immediately. But if you’re reading this at work (I know you are), know that the film revolves around a charmingly impish high school student named Ferris Bueller (played by Matthew Broderick) who decides to cut school for the day with his best friend (Cameron) and girlfriend (Sloane). Hijinks ensue, and he is pursued separately throughout the day by two foes: his jealous and vengeful sister, Jeannie, and his petty and obsessive principal, Mr. Rooney.
It’s good clean fun, except for the part where Charlie Sheen is involved. And so is this Power Poll. Where’d your team land? Read on to find out what their “day out” netted them in consequences.
Ohio State (#1)—Ferris Bueller
High: 1 Low: 1 First Place Votes: 19 (unanimous)
Ferris: “They bought it. Incredible. One of the worst performances of my career, and they never doubted it for a second.”
Everyone has known a Ferris—the kind of person for whom things just work out, who skips through life consequence-free. He ain’t here to play school, but that’s no matter—he shows up when and where it really matters, whether that’s in his bedroom at 6 pm sharp, or in Happy Valley on a Saturday night.
There’s a part of you (a big part of you if you identify with Jeannie or Mr. Rooney) that wants nothing more than to see OSU get busted, just this once—but it almost never happens. Ferris is just too good at this, and has too many tricks or five-stars players up his sleeve. He keeps winning, and pundits and policemen alike keep uncritically cheering him on...
...Oh. Anyway, last weekend, it seemed like OSU might finally get pinched, but alas, “Only the meek get pinched. The bold
feebly apologize issue tone-deaf posters survive.” Or, the bold call really stupid plays on 4th and 5, and the slightly-less bold survive—but either way, like Ferris, OSU emerged unscathed, as usual.
Penn State (#2)—Jeannie Bueller
(High: 2 Low: 4)
Jeannie: “I’d also like to add that I have my father’s gun and a scorching case of herpes.”
Jeannie spends this movie powerfully pissed off—and not just because of the aforementioned scorching case of herpes. She is sick and tired of Ferris always getting to do whatever he wants. Early in the movie, she has a moment of reflection about her loathing of her big brother:
Jeannie: [thinking to herself] Maybe I’m overreacting. Maybe Ferris isn’t such a bad guy. After all, I got a car, he got a computer. But still, why should he get to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants? Why should everything work out for him? What makes him so goddamn special?
Jeannie: [aloud] Screw him.
She then decides that THIS TIME, she’s going to take him down. Penn State feels this way too, about Ohio State. The only team (in their mind) that stands in their way to greatness is those entitled brats from Columbus. Always hogging the glory, the expectations, the acclaim, the W-L record. Screw ‘em.
But something strange happens at the end of the movie. Jeannie discovers she hates something more than her brother, and that she may, in fact, even love him. Sacrificially, she bails his ass out, presumably absorbing the full import of her parents’ wrath at her for her day of sabotaging escapades. But when the game is up, she comes to Ferris’ aid—and calls world’s worst 4th and 5 play to doom herself and save him.
Wisconsin (#3)—Ferris’ Computer
(High: 2 Low: 4)
It’s an unorthodox move to treat Ferris’ computer as a “character” in its own right, but when you stop to think about it, the thing is really a pretty major plot driver. Without it, Ferris would not be able to trick his parents into thinking he’s snoring peacefully in his room or adjust his attendance record on the school system; and the computer is at least partially to blame for Ferris and Jeannie’s antagonism toward each other (she got a car, he got a computer—and the Europeans could be fascist anarchists, and it would not change the fact that Ferris is car-less.)
Likewise, Wisconsin isn’t grabbing many headlines these days due to some pretty severe limitations (having a left-handed QB is probably comparable to having a computer with no internet and less memory than your phone), but that doesn’t mean they’re not contributing anything to the B1G plot. Beating Iowa two weeks ago kicked off a likely chain of events for the B1G West, and unless they “barf up a lung” like they did against BYU, there’s no reason to think things won’t proceed according to plan.
Michigan (#4)—Cameron Frye
(High: 3 Low: 6)
Cameron: “Ferris Bueller, you’re my hero.”
Cameron Frye* is Ferris Bueller’s best friend, and an unwitting accomplice to Ferris’ escapades. When the film starts, Cameron legitimately is home from school sick, but that doesn’t stop Ferris from calling him and guilting him into aiding and abetting him in his schemes for his day off, which include having him call the school and pose as his girlfriend’s father and stealing his father’s 1961 Ferrari. Just some minor stuff like that.
But Cameron, it must be said, is a bit of a doormat to his strong-willed bestie, much as Michigan has more often than not folded in the face of OSU’s Ferris in recent years. Ferris worries about Cameron’s future, surmising his future wife will treat him like crap because you can’t respect someone who kisses your ass. What with all the 3rd-place divisional finishes, Michigan has found this to be true in football as well—that kissing the ass of OSU and PSU has left others with little respect for the Wolverines. Cameron experiences a psychic break of sorts near the end of the film, one which Ferris believes will finally cure him of his chronic submission—one has to wonder if Harbaugh cracks this year, if it will finally get the Wolverines where they want to go.
*This isn’t related to football, but Alan Ruck was THIRTY freaking years when he starred in this movie playing a high schooler, which is totally weird, but also makes me feel a lot less weird about having a crush on Cameron.
Iowa (#5)—Mr. Rooney
(High: 4 Low: 9)
Ed Rooney: “I did not achieve this position in life by having some snot-nosed punk leave my cheese out in the wind.”
He’s petty. He’s spiteful. He’s really, uncomfortably, inappropriately obsessed with something he shouldn’t be. He’s an Iowa fan! But in the film, he’s Mr. Rooney, the principal of Ferris’ school, hell-bent on catching Ferris and destroying his future. Because, you know, that’s how healthy, well-adjusted adults spend their time—
reading the sports media of an opposing fanbase personally hunting truants.
At one point, Rooney thinks that he has caught Ferris, and sneaks up behind him to grab him. It’s not Ferris, but a doppelganger, and Rooney is humiliated. One wonders if this might emulate the situation where Iowa once defeated Ohio State, but will prove how unlikely and unrepeatable this victory was the next time they play (unless Kirk has another soul to sell to the devil, which I suppose is possible.)
But there is really no excuse for Rooney’s obsessive behavior. He pursues his obsession with unrelenting attention, stalking his prey, and finding unbridled joy in his actions. This, of course, is exactly analogous to an Iowa fan on Twitter, eagerly breaking news of every development of the Husker football program. It’s weird and unsettling, and it’s clear who the villain is here.
So consider this your wake up call, Iowa—stop being the weird guy, or you may just end up walking home in disgrace before sharing warm gummy bears on the bus with this girl as the credits roll:
Ohhh yeaaah. (chicka chick-ah)
Michigan State (#6)—Tom Bueller (Ferris’ Dad)
(High: 4 Low: 7)
Katie Bueller: “I just picked up Jeannie at the police station! She got a speeding ticket, another speeding ticket, and I lost the Vermont deal because of her!”
Tom Bueller: “I think we should shoot her.”
Tom Bueller is not the star of this movie. Though the film remains silent about whether or not this causes him to feel disrespekt’d, from what we see of him, he’s a man who, for now, is content to do just enough to remain in the picture. For the most part, he’s a stoic sort, showing only flashes of personality, like when he briefly dances the twist alone in his office while unwittingly witnessing his son in a parade far below his downtown office, or suggesting to his wife that they shoot their daughter after learning of her wild afternoon of alleged law-breaking.
2018 MSU feels much this way—happy to plod along beating who they should (well... mostly), but not making any kind of move toward a star turn. They’re the type of team that could always throw in an unexpected or unorthodox performance—perhaps they’ll find a way to take out PSU, thus metaphorically satiating the parental frustration of Tom Bueller—but mostly, they know they’re not top-billed in this, and for this season, seem content with that.
Maryland (#7)—Garage Attendant (and Co-Pilot)
(High: 5 Low: 9)
Garage Attendant: “You fellas have nothing to worry about. I’m a professional.”
Cameron: “A professional what?”
When Ferris & Friends leave the 1961 Ferrari in a downtown Chicago garage of dubious repute, an opportunistic garage attendant and his friend make the most of their unexpected good fortune, taking the car for the mother of all joyrides in one of the most iconic scenes of the film.
While Maryland has had anything but good fortune surrounding their program in recent months, there’s no denying that the football players, at least, have seized the opportunity for a little chaos on the field. After opening the season by defeating Texas (who is now #19 and definitely BACK after defeating 2-3 Kansas State 19-14), the Terps are on a tear, destroying Minnesota last week. Their only setback has been to Temple, but that only adds to their air of unpredictability and mystique. They might just be a garage attendant spending the day parking Corollas and Buicks, or they may hit the big time and experience a once-in-a-lifetime victory. The bad news for the Terps is that at the end of the day, they’re still just a parking garage attendant—but that won’t stop them from finding out just how high a turtle can fly.* This week, they have #15 Michigan on the road—so it may be time to add just a few more miles to the ol’ Ferrari (you can just put the car in reverse to take them off) and see what they can make happen in the Big House.
*Note: Do not actually try to find out how high a turtle can fly.
Purdue (#8)—Grace the Receptionist
(High: 7 Low: 11)
Grace: (cheerily, to herself) “Mmm-mmm-mmm. What a little asshole.”
Sweet little Grace, the perky assistant to the devious Mr. Rooney, appears throughout the film as some mild comedic foil through her simple-minded misunderstandings. When Mr. Rooney declares he doesn’t trust Ferris any further than he can throw him, Grace deadpans “Well, with your bad knee, Ed, you shouldn’t throw anybody, it’s true.” This is a little bit how we’ve been in the habit of viewing our little Purdue—a sweetly funny punchline to the conference.
But as you can see from the photo and quote above, Grace has a darker side. Whether it’s dabbling in the dangerous addictions of White-Out or (justifiably, admittedly) labeling the students “assholes,” Grace isn’t all sugar and spice. And neither is Purdue. We suppose that Creature of Darkness Purdue Pete should have been a warning sign, but between a host of nasty penalties and punking Boston College and Nebraska, it seems that Purdue may be more than just a quiet sidekick to the B1G West.
Indiana (#9)—Ben Stein the Econ Teacher
(High: 6 Low: 11)
Econ Teacher: “In 1930, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, in an effort to alleviate the effects of the... Anyone? Anyone?... the Great Depression, passed the... Anyone? Anyone? The tariff bill? The Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act? Which, anyone? Raised or lowered?... raised tariffs, in an effort to collect more revenue for the federal government. Did it work? Anyone? Anyone know the effects? It did not work, and the United States sank deeper into the Great Depression.”
Bored and disengaged. It’s to be expected, perhaps, of anyone studying anything as life-draining as economics, let alone of someone teaching it to a room full of catatonic high schoolers. Stein’s portrayal of a checked-out econ teacher was so dead-on that one of his few lines instantly became a cultural touchstone (“Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?”) and provided a depiction of deep despondency that has endured for over three decades.
Unfortunately, Indiana, you are not an economics teacher, and you’re not performing in a room of underwhelmed teenagers, so we’re not quite sure what this display of apathy is all about. It’s true that playing Rutgers isn’t riveting stuff, but goodness. To carry this so far that you only beat them by 7? That’s a bad look, almost as bad as the kid drooling on his desk during a droning tariff discussion. You’re basically one step away from passing out at a 31 Flavors.
Northwestern (#10)—Chez Quis Maitre d’
(High: 8 Low: 11)
Maitre D’: Look, I’m very busy. Why don’t you take the kids and go back to the clubhouse?
Ferris: Are you suggesting that I’m not who I say I am?
Maitre D’: I’m suggesting that you leave before I have to get snooty.
Maitre D’: Snotty.
While I don’t really buy that three teenagers on a lark would choose to spend part of their day of hooky “eating pancreas” at a restaurant with a dress code, the decision to do so leads to one of the funnier scenes in the movie, when Ferris attempts to weasel his way past a snobby maitre d’ by pretending to be Abe Froman, Sausage King of Chicago. The maitre d’ is a masterpiece of snobbery and bad 80s hair, who of course is no match for Ferris’ wiles.
You may think that this is a softball of a comparison, making rich, privileged Northwestern be the insufferable enforcer of class divisions, and this certainly works on that level. But let’s dig deeper. Northwestern thought they’d won the game against Michigan, up 17-0, much like the maitre d’ believed himself to have caught the rapscallions when he revealed that Ferris’ chosen faux reservation was a well-known sausage king. However, his late-game management of the situation failed, leaving himself to get punked by a bunch of kids—leaving himself with only the consoling thought that his adjustments were good, they just didn’t work.
Minnesota (#11)—Abe Froman, Sausage King of Chicago (Alleged)
(High: 8 Low: 12)
Abe Froman, the Sausage King of Chicago, is a success. You can tell by that no-doubt-self-appointed moniker that this is a man with a flair for self-promotion. A man who probably has dozens of billboards along every interstate in greater Chicago. A man who is not above making a cheesy commercial in order to achieve sausage success. A man who probably has a catchphrase (stuff stuff stuff your sau... mmmm, nope. There’s a reason I’m not in marketing.)
Thing is, we never see Abe Froman materialize. Perhaps he really is only a figment of marketing imagination. Minnesota too, is in much this same situation. They’ve got a hyped up front-man, ready to sell
sausages boat rowing culture to an eagerly-awaiting upper Midwest. But so far, they’ve never actually shown up. Does Abe Froman/a new Gopher world really exist? Or, like Froman, are PJ Fleck and the Gophers nothing more than a skinny kid in a sweater vest and an air of impudence? Time may be running out for Fleck to show he’s more than just a self-promotion hotshot—but he’s got a great opportunity to capture some pork sausage filling this weekend.
Illinois (#12)—The Little Old Lady in a Lincoln
(High: 11 Low: 13)
She’s got no lines, and ultimately plays little to no part in the movie’s plot (much like Illinois’ role in the Big Ten), but man, is it funny to watch her do her thing. As Tom Bueller pilots his Volvo through the streets of suburbia toward his comfortable home, he is thwarted by a diminutive old lady wildly weaving in her Lincoln.
She can’t see over the steering wheel, and definitely shouldn’t be driving at all, let alone such a big car, but nevertheless, there she is, a comic foil on the commute home. Illinois, appropriately hailing from the Land of Lincoln (towncars?), should probably not be playing FBS football—it’s a little much for them to handle right now. It seems likely that they can’t really see where they’re going, judging by what’s going on on the field, but hey, it’s a little funny to the disinterested observer to watch that inevitable car wreck unfold.
Nebraska (#13)—The Ferrari (After)
(High: 12 Low: 14 Last Place Votes: 1)
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.
It was a beautiful thing. Gleaming, red, an untouchable classic of its era. The pride and joy of those who felt ownership in it, who loved it more than they loved their own children. But one day, the door was left unlocked—and people who didn’t appreciate its beauty took it for a spin. A spin, it turned out, that left it a smoldering shell of itself.
That paragraph was about Husker football. In the movie, the kids take out a Ferrari, and then send it careening out of the glass (why?) garage while attempting to reverse the odometer to disguise their day out. The result is every bit as disastrous as 2018 Husker football, but with fewer penalties, even taking into account those Morris Frye is likely to inflict on Cameron’s social life. But one thing is exactly the same—that look of Cameron’s as the Ferrari speeds backwards is probably precisely how Scott Frost has felt every minute of this fall.
Rutgers (#14)—Charlie Sheen/Boy in Police Station
(High: 13 Low: 14 LPV: 18)
Boy in Police Station: Drugs?
Jeannie: Thank you, no. I’m straight.
Boy in Police Station: I meant, are you in here for drugs?
Jeannie: Why are you here?
Boy in Police Station: Drugs.
From the minute you see Charlie Sheen onscreen, you know he’s bad news. Wild-eyed, messy haired, devoid of inflection, we know he’s a man whose future is not bright. Moments later, he confirms this, telling Jeannie he’s in the police station for “drugs.” Not a guy you want to bring home to Mom, though this doesn’t exactly stop Jeannie.
It didn’t stop Jim Delany from bringing home the Big Ten’s bad boy either—the warning signs were there, and like so many addicts, Rutgers has only spiraled further down its destructive path with no end in sight. No matter how many times they claim they are #winning and that the joke is on the haters, it remains clear that Rutgers is vastly unwell. However, a game with Illinois looms this weekend—one final shot at rehab.
Who is the best character in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off?
This poll is closed
Other (tell us!)