Saving Ferris

By Noah Graff

Some of you may remember a blog I wrote a year and a half ago promoting “Saving Ferris,” my latest YouTube documentary about the Chicago locations of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

To make my documentary I visited almost all of the film’s locations in Chicago and the northern suburbs of Chicago where it was originally shot. In the film I talk about where and what the locations actually are and how they have changed in the last few decades. I also try to recapture the experience of the movie. I go to a Cubs game, drive a Ferrari replica down Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive, and even get on a float at the Von Steuben Day Parade, the same parade in the film where Ferris sang “Danke Schoen” and “Twist and Shout.”

This week celebrates the 30th anniversary of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” the wonderful John Hughes film about three high schoolers who ditch a day of school to go spend the perfect day in Chicago. This summer the film is being shown in parks and on rooftops all over Chicago. There was even a Ferris Bueller festival a few weeks ago in Lake Forest, Illinois. All of a sudden everyone in Chicago is acting like they are as big a Ferris Bueller fan as me!

Why is everyone so gaga about a 30-year-old movie? Why did I love this movie so much that I spent years making a documentary about it? Why was it the go-to movie for my parents to put on when one of their kids was sick?


Noah Graff on float at Von Steuben Day Parade

I believe there are several reasons for this love of Ferris. First, the film is a comedic masterpiece. A brilliant cast starring Matthew Broderick, Jennifer Grey, Mia Sara and Alan Ruck, along with a classic drugged-out Charlie Sheen, can literally make me laugh out loud—not too many films are capable of that. I can still envision my childhood friend John and I rewinding my parents’ VCR to watch the same scenes over and over again. One of our favorites was the scene where Ferris’s sister Genie karate kicks Mr. Rooney in the face three times. We must have watched that scene 20 times in one sitting when we we were 9. I must also say that as an 8- or 9-year old seeing the movie for the first time its lovely medley of swear words made the jokes extra amazing. Childhood movie watching experiences have produced special bonds for me to classics like Ferris Bueller. When I watch comedies such as “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “Blues Brothers,” or “Stripes” it almost feels like I’m visiting an old friend.

Many Ferris fans group the film with some of the other John Hughes 1980s classics that also take place in Chicago’s north suburbs—the so-called “Brat Pack” movies such as “16 Candles,” “Pretty in Pink” and “The Breakfast Club.” Those films deal with the difficulties faced by middle-class Generation X teens. Many critics say that the protagonist of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” is not Ferris but instead Ferris’s best friend, Cameron Frye, a depressed teen with abusive parents who is jealous of Ferris’s easier life and enamored of Sloan, Ferris’s sexy girlfriend. While this coming-of-age theme ties “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” together in the end, I don’t believe it is the reason that so many people love watching the film.

We love watching “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” because the film gives us the chance to relive Ferris’s fantasy day. We get to imagine what life would be like if we could be a high school kid again but have everything go exactly how we wanted it to go for one day. We get to feel the fun and adrenaline rush of ditching school and stealing a Ferrari from your friend’s mean parents. Then we get the experience of going around an amazing city with our best friend and girlfriend, visiting three times the amount of fun places that a person could possibly go to in a single day! That wonderful day never gets old.

Question: What movies have you watched over and over again?

Like “Saving Ferris” on Facebook

Watch the entire “Saving Ferris” documentary on Noah Graff’s YouTube Channel:

“Saving Ferris” Trailer

Noah gets on a float at the Von Steuben Day Parade

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16 thoughts on “Saving Ferris

  1. Lloyd Graff

    I loved Ferris Buehler’s Day Off. Watched it numerous times. I enjoyed your personal documentary even more.

  2. Rod Brower

    Forest Gump,

    Many times, even when in Chicago when at IMTS on a day off.

    Great Music sure helps make a movie enjoyable.

  3. Josh

    Movies I’ve seen the most would have to be Boondock Saints, Garden State and Anchorman. Have watched all of them countless times.

  4. Steve Parker

    Blazing Saddles.
    Have it on VHS, DVD & BlueRay.
    Paid to see it in college at local movies at least a dozen times, used to be the midnight show that alternated with Rocky Horror, was only $1 a ticket during on weeknights during summer break.
    Lot’s of “first dates” saw it, those that liked it had a much better chance of getting to the second date.

    1. Noah Graff

      That is a good sign Steve if the girl appreciates a masterpiece. Blazing saddles is definitely up there in movies I’ve seen a million times.

      Blazing Saddles,
      Blues Brothers
      Die Hard/Die hard 2
      Shawshank (partly just because they show it on TV so often)
      Trains Planes and Automobiles (another john Hughes)
      Princess Bride
      Pulp Fiction
      Indiana Jones (probably last crusade the most)
      And of course Star Wars Episode IV to VI

  5. Joe W

    Movies I watch multiple times are usually comedies, action/war films and westerns. Favorite comedies include A Guide for the Married Man and Love Actually (part comedy part romance). Action favorites include Where Eagles Dare and Guns of Navarrone. Favorite westerns are Rio Bravo, Stagecoach and the Quick and the Dead (the one with Sam Elliot, not Gene Hackman-Sharon Stone).

  6. mike

    A Clockwork Orange



    looks like i am more to the darker side of movies . . . also “One Flew Over the CooCoo’s nest” – a definite all time favorite.

  7. Lloyd Graff

    It’s a Wonderful Life
    Remember the Titans
    Bull Durham
    Bridge on the River Kwai
    Sound of Music
    Indiana Jones movies

  8. Greg Knight

    HI Noah,

    Probably have seen most of the Clint Eastwood westerns more than any except Blues Brothers, Young Frankenstein (I loved the old classic horror flicks), and many weekends at the local midnight pictures with Rocky Horror.

    Thanks for some good memories.

  9. Ed B

    Great Article Noah. You nailed it!
    It’s A Wonderful Life
    Blues Brothers
    All Jason Bourne movies
    All Clint Eastwood Westerns
    All John Hughes movies

  10. Terry Donovan

    Out of Africa
    She wore a yellow ribbon
    The Shinning
    The outlaw Josey Wales
    The Warriors
    King Kong ( 1933 )
    The Wizard of Oz


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