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Bill Bergeman


The Tao of Ferris Bueller

If you are between the ages of 40 and 55, then you had the good fortune of growing up during the glory years of John Hughes films.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off, which premiered in 1986, was one film in a long string of impressionable classics Hughes directed in the 1980s that served as instant cultural milestones for every young member of Generation X.

Bueller, played by an ever-charming young Matthew Broderick, is the king of his high school. The guy everyone wants to be around. As the school secretary, played by the lovable Edie McClurg, adroitly points out early in the film to the school principal, "Oh he's very popular, Ed. The sportos, motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads...they all adore him. They think he's a righteous dude."

Throughout the film, a consistent characteristic of Bueller is his seeming nonchalantness toward...pretty much everything. Because he gets along with everyone - except for his nemesis, the dastardly school principal Ed Rooney, and his jealous sister, played by a pre-Dirty Dancing Jennifer Grey - he seems to skate through life with ease, his path smoothly paved by his many admirers.

As a young boy watching the film, and even now as a middle age man, I can't help but find myself among the groupies that admire Ferris. His easy-going manner and ability to find the good and the fun in any situation, no matter how dire, is borderline enviable.

This list is dedicated to identifying the many characteristics that make Ferris, Ferris.

That is, the Tao of Ferris Bueller.

    1. Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.

    Bueller's entire life philosophy revolves around this classic closing line from the film.

    2. A, you can never go too far, and B, if I'm going to get busted it's not going to be by a guy like that.

    This line (from the great "Abe Froman, Sausage King of Chicago" scene) describes Bueller's approach to getting what he wants. Think big, act big, and don't let the haters get in your way.

    3. How could I possibly be expected to handle school on a day like this?

    Here we learn that Ferris believes work and productivity are not the most important things in life. Put things in perspective. If you value going outside on a beautiful day more than doing work, then by all means go outside!

    4. A man with priorities so far out of whack does not deserve such a fine automobile.

    In this scene, Ferris teaches us that having beautiful things in life is great, but they should be used for our enjoyment, not made to be the centers of our universe.

    5. Silence.

    Sometimes in life the best thing to do is to say nothing and simply appreciate the beauty that surrounds us.

    6. You can't respect somebody who kisses your ass. It just doesn't work.

    In this scene, Ferris breaks the fourth wall to discuss what he thinks the future holds for his very uptight best friend, Cameron. He's concerned Cameron will marry the first person who has sex with him, and in turn he'll put her on such a high pedestal that she won't respect him for it. The lesson is to never idolize anyone too strongly if you want to be respected.

    7. If your temper gets the best of you, be humble and apologize.

    Ferris gets upset with Cameron for doing a poor job of deceiving the school principal in order to get his girlfriend out of school for the day. In turn, Cameron gets defensive and starts to leave. Does Ferris double down on his anger, like so many of us do when we get worked up? No. He backs down, apologizes, and smooths things over. Friendship saved.

    8. You're not dying; you just can't think of anything good to do.

    Sometimes when we're down, we think there's no hope. But, maybe all we need is something positive on which to focus our attention.

    9. When people start to doubt you, overdeliver and show them what you're made of.

    This is arguably the most memorable scene in the movie (though an argument could be made for 20 other scenes as well). Cameron, with his usual pessimism, tells Ferris that the fun-filled day they've had in Chicago didn't amount to much. Not to be deterred, Ferris puts on a show of epic proportions.

    10. It's over. Go home!

    Always know when it's time to call it an end.

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