MRR's Movie of the Week: The Top Five Quotes from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"

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Matthew Broderick stars as Ferris Bueller, a smart aleck who is determined to have a day off from school, despite his suspecting principal.
Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures
January 24th, 2013

MRR's Movie of the Week: The Top Five Quotes from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"

-- The film "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" is part of a slew of teen films of the 1980s that went on to become very popular. The movie still holds up today, mostly because it is full of highly quotable lines still a part of the pop culture zeitgeist. It is hard to pare down all the good lines from the film to just one article, but here are some of the most quotable.

"The question isn't 'what are we going to do,' the question is 'what aren't we going to do?'" This line is uttered near the beginning of the film, when Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) is asked by girlfriend Sloane Peterson (Mia Sara) what they are going to do now that he has tricked principle Ed Rooney (Jeffrey Jones) into letting her have the rest of the day off of school. Ferris is one of those rare teenage characters who not only seems to have all the answers but has just enough chutzpah to be believable. Therefore, when he says this famous line, viewers believe that he really does have a plan to cram as much fun as possible into his day off with Sloane and best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck).

In another classic scene, a very monotone economics teacher played by Ben Stein is taking role, unaware that Ferris has feigned illness so that his mother let him stay home. He repeatedly says Ferris's last name before finally giving up and moving on to the next name on his list. The "Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?" line is arguably the quote most associated with Stein, even though he has amassed quite a movie and television resume in the years since the film first came out. During his lecture, he also repeatedly asks, "Anyone? Anyone?" Though not quite as popular, this quote also took on a life of its own after the movie came out.

One of the many things that Ferris, Sloane, and Cameron do on their day off is go swimming. Cameron, in a haze of depression that has lasted the entire film, sinks to the very bottom of the pool with seemingly no desire to resurface. After a few seconds, Ferris finally goes underwater to bring Cameron back up, then worries that his friend may have inhaled water. Cameron lets him panic for a bit before opening his eyes, smiling, and saying, "Ferris Bueller, you're my hero!" Ferris, realizing that Cameron got the best of him, begins splashing him with water, tossing him back into the pool. What started out as a very tense scene becomes a lighthearted one, with one of the best lines in the film thrown in for good measure.

The three friends spend the day in Chicago, a huge city with lots to see and do. Though they could take public transportation or rent a car, Ferris insists on taking Cameron's father's car, a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT. This car is a beauty by almost anyone's standards, even people who know nothing about cars. Cameron protests, because he is deathly afraid of his father, who adores the car more than he does his own son. The charismatic Ferris convinces Cameron by promising that they will drive home in reverse to erase any miles that they put on it. They ingeniously rig the car to begin erasing the miles, but the trick doesn't work, sending Cameron into an emotional tailspin and causing him to begin kicking the car. It falls off the rigging device and drives out of the second story garage, crashing to the ground. An incredulous Ferris says, "You killed the car," a point which really can't be argued.

Finally, no list of best quotes from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" would be complete without "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." This is without a doubt one of the best lines from the film, having spawned shirts, bumper stickers, and other merchandise. Ferris actually says it twice, once in the beginning of the film when he is explaining to the audience why he is feigning illness, and once at the very end, after he nearly gets caught by his mom. The line is so popular that Barbara Bush, the First Lady of the United States at the time, quoted the line in a commencement address at Wellesley College in 1990. Lines from movies don't get quoted by the wife of the President of the United States very often, so that shows just how popular the quote is.