I was recently watching “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” a movie near and dear to my heart similar to any other kid who grew up in the 80’s. I remember when I first saw it as a kid, I thought Ferris was the coolest guy around. Skipping school, hot girlfriend, cruising in a Ferrari, scamming an expensive lunch, singing in a parade and — above all — not getting caught by the Man (aka his parents and his high school principal). Not to mention he did it all in one day!
How can there be anyone cooler than Ferris Bueller? Right?
But my most recent viewing of the movie comes after many, many years and life changes. And it appears I’m now a cantankerous, square adult because soon I got to scrutinizing the movie and all of it’s implausibilities, not to mention what would’ve happened if the cameras had kept rolling long after Ferris’ day off.
This is how I imagine it:
Ferris is now 42 years old, going on 67. His youthful appearances have all but disappeared underneath a scraggly, graying beard and 75 extra pounds. The camera shows Ferris living in a dingy basement apartment, and he’s sleeping next to Sloane, who looks like she not only lives in a trailer park, but may have eaten it as well.
The sounds of young children running around can be heard above them. The noises wake Ferris up and he screams “SHUT UP DAMMIT!” to the kids above. Then his sister, Jeanie, opens the basement door and yells down to Ferris to get his lazy ass out of bed or else he’ll be late for his job interview as a busboy at an upscale Chicago restaurant.
Jeanie married the troubled young man (Charlie Sheen) she met at the police station years ago. They’ve been married for 17 years and now have two kids. She works as a realtor and he is a neurosurgeon. They allowed Ferris and Sloane to live in their basement five years ago after Ferris accidentally burned down their parents’ home setting up a crystal meth lab.
Their problems started the day after Ferris’ infamous day off. Although Ferris thought he got away with everything, the next morning he awoke to horrible news. His best friend, Cameron, had been murdered by his own father. You see when Mr. Frye got home from work and saw what Cameron had done to his cherished Ferrari, he snapped. Cameron’s father pushed him out of the garage where Cameron came to rest impaled on the gear shift. He died instantly. When Mr. Frye realized what he had done, he shot himself in the head.
Blaming himself for the murder-suicide, Ferris went into a tailspin from which he never recovered. He tried going back to school but Principal Rooney was still angry about Ferris’ day off (and being torn to bits by a crazed Doberman). Rooney made Ferris’ life hell, and Ferris eventually quit school without graduating. Sloane dropped out too, but two teenagers with no high school diplomas couldn’t find work anywhere. That’s when they turned to drugs and Sloane eventually started working the street corner to bring in extra cash.
Things were rough for many years, and the nadir was when Ferris and Sloane were homeless, penniless and strung out. Jeanie and her husband offered to take them in, but only if they sobered up. It’s been a rough road with lots of rehab and complications, but they’ve been slowly progressing. And aside from Sloane always bitching at him saying “When are you going to take me back to the art museum?” Ferris is feeling good and finally ready to go on his first job interview in years.
He takes the train into downtown Chicago and he follows the directions Jeanie gave him to the restaurant. But when he finds it, his heart sinks immediately. It was Chez Quis, the restaurant he scammed a free lunch at 24 years ago. Hoping no one would remember him, he walks in and asks to speak to the manager. Unfortunately, the manager is the former maitre-d who Ferris and his friends conned all those years ago. He recognized Ferris immediately and sarcastically said “Hello Mr. Froman. Looks the sausage business isn’t doing so well.”
Knowing there was no way the snooty manager would hire him, Ferris heads out of the restaurant. His devastation is too much to bear, and the only way to kill the pain is to score some crack. He walks up a pair of guys on the nearest street corner and asks them if he can score some drugs. But with horror, he recognizes the faces in front of him and he can’t believe his eyes. He was staring at the two parking garage attendants who went joyriding with Mr. Frye’s Ferrari all those years ago.
“Hey, I know you,” one guy said to Ferris. “You’re the dude with the Ferrari.” Ferris tries to backpedal away but they catch him and demand his money and his expensive car. When he tries to tell them he has nothing, they don’t believe him and proceed to beat him severely and without mercy.
And as Ferris lay dying in that dirty alley, the last thing he saw was what looked like his former Economics teacher standing over him saying, “Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?”
What? So I’m a little more pessimistic now than I once was. Sue me.
But wouldn’t it be fun to do this with all the 80’s movies? I’m sure someone already has and my version isn’t half as great, but I think this idea has some serious potential. You could do Karate Kid, 16 Candles, St. Elmo’s Fire, Breakfast Club, Goonies…the list is infinite.
But we all know the easiest one would be Top Gun. Because once gay marriage was legalized in Massachusetts in 2004, can’t you just see Val Kilmer and Tom Cruise standing at an altar in Provincetown, exchanging vows and saying to each other, “I take you, Maverick, to be my wing man for life.”