FERRIS BUELLER’s DAY OFF: An Abridged Script

EXT. MATTHEW BRODERICK’s UBER-COOL TEEN BOY BEDROOM

MATTHEW’s DOTING MOM
(peers at mound under covers from which moans are emitting that could conceivably be MATTHEW’s)
Honey? Honey? How do you feel?

MATTHEW BRODERICK
Gee whiz, Ma, kind of under the weather. Maybe I’d better take a day off?

MATTHEW’s DOTING MOM
Good idea. Stay here and don’t move a muscle except to change the TV channel or lift a mug of cocoa.

MATTHEW’s DOTING DAD
Son, you can never be too careful with these bugs which only seem to occur when it’s gorgeous out. Why not take two or three?

MATTHEW’s PERPETUALLY PISSED OFF SISTER JENNIFER GREY
Hey, no fair! You make me go to school when I’ve got a fever of a hundred and three.

MATTHEW’s DOTING DAD
That’s because MATTHEW is our priceless treasure, whereas we aren’t even sure you belong to us. Besides we bought you a car, so what could you possibly have to complain about? Now scram.

JENNIFER pouts off, while MATTHEW’S MOM and DAD leave for work.

MATTHEW BRODERICK
(breaks fourth wall for first – but not last! – time)
My worst performance ever – and they bought it!

IMPRESSIONABLE YOUNG AUDIENCE
Cool! He’s talking right to us!

MATTHEW BRODERICK
(real line)
You fake a stomach cramp, and when you’re bent over, moaning and wailing, you lick your palms. It’s a little childish and stupid, but then, so is high school.

MATTHEW gets up and does various things around the house, all the while talking to the camera and totally bonding with the AUDIENCE.
My sister got a car, but I got a computer. This means I have to bum rides off my friend, ALAN RUCK, who gets sick all the time, but the hypochondriac, I-can’t-tell-my-dad-he’s-a-douche kind. Trust me, you’ll be hearing a lot more about ALAN’s DAD throughout the movie. But we’re all going on a cool day trip to Chicago – I mean MOVIE CHICAGO which is really TORONTO – to de-repress ALAN.

INT. HIGH SCHOOL PRINCIPAL’S OFFICE of REPRESSED ANALNESS

JEFFREY JONES is twirling his mustache and talking to his SECRETARY EDIE McCLURG.

JEFFFREY JONES
So how many days has MATTHEW missed this year?

EDIE McCLURG
(pulls several pencils from her bouffant ‘do, scratches scalp, checks computer)
I think it’s sixteen – no, eight – no, two – see he’s hardly missed any days.

JEFFREY JONES
I am going to catch that little turd red-handed. (real line) I did not achieve this position in life by letting some snot nosed punk leave my cheese out in the wind.

EDIE McCLURG
(rolls eyes)
JEFFREY, if you want my advice, stepping on a rake with bare feet would be less painful and more productive than attempting to make an example out of MATTHEW.

JEFFREY JONES
(continues to rant about maintaining his authority…
(totally ignores EDIE’s words of wisdom…
(gets AUDIENCE excited for the showdowns to come)

EXT. THE RUCK FAMILY GARAGE OVERLOOKING A BLUFF FEATURING ONE VERY COOL RED FERRARI

ALAN RUCK
OK, I’ve made a call to JEFFREY impersonating your girlfriend, MIA SARA’s DAD, and convinced him that MIA’s grandmother’s died, and she needs to be outside on the school steps to be picked up before we head off to Movie Chicago? Can we at least take my car even though it’s a junker? Please? Pretty please with whipped cream and nuts?

MATTHEW BRODERICK
No, you see, when we pick up MIA, JEFFREY won’t believe MIA’s DAD drives a cheap piece of shit like your car.

ALAN RUCK
(pouts at this unforgivable insult, as if he probably doesn’t hear much worse from his evil dad every day)
Well then, shall we call a cab?

MATTHEW BRODERICK
Nope. We’re taking the FERARRI…

ALAN RUCK
…which my dad loves way more than me and will literally kill me when he finds we touched it?

MATTHEW BRODERICK
That’s the one!

EXT. SCHOOL PARKING LOT

JEFFREY is trying to be compassionate to MIA which is kind of like watching a giraffe put on a tutu, but hey, it’s the thought that counts!

JEFFREY JONES
(real line)
You know, I had a grandmother…Two actually.

MIA SARA
(classily refraining from eye rolls)
You are a beautiful man, Mr. Rooney. And I am a complete suckup who is totally psyched that my boyfriend and his repressed best friend are heading this way to rescue me.

A totally disguised MATTHEW gets out and waves MIA over.

MATTHEW BRODERICK
(real line)
Do you have a kiss for Daddy?

THEY KISS – FRENCHILY – while JEFFREY stews. Then they get in the car and zoom off.

JEFFREY JONES
(choking on their literal dust)
Curses! Foiled again.

JENNIFER GREY
(skulking on the sidelines)
That little shit! He gets away with everything. I think I’ll leave, too, so there!

While MATTHEW, ALAN and MIA head into the Big City to visit such amazing attractions as a STOCK EXCHANGE, a BASEBALL GAME and a MUSEUM with PRICELESS ART WORK, JENNIFER goes home, and JEFFREY heads out to trap MATTHEW for a round of wacky high jinks, i.e. huge dose of humiliation.

EXT. MATTHEW’s HOME

JEFFREY JONES
Ha! I’ve got him now. Because the one thing, MATTHEW is – wait for it – stupid.

RECORDED MESSAGE
I’m sorry. I can’t come to the door right now. I’m afraid that…

JEFFREY JONES
(proving for the umpteenth time that he himself is the Mayor of Simpleton)
MATTHEW, get your ass down here, right this minute.

RECORDED MESSAGE
I’m sorry. I can’t come…

JEFFREY JONES
I’m coming in…

JENNIFER GREY
(who has returned and doesn’t recognize JEFFREY)
I will jump start the high jinks by jumping to conclusions/doing the sensible thing and phoning the police.

JEFFREY then gets attacked by twin Dobermans and loses his SHOE, WALLET and what’s left of his minuscule DIGNITY. Meanwhile JENNIFER gets hauled off to the police station because they think she is pranking them. Plus MATTHEW’s WORSHIPFUL PEERS send a singing porno telegram to cheer POOR SICK MATTHEW up. (And apparently, their family doesn’t have security cameras to record any of this.)

EXT. DOWTOWN MOVIE CHICAGO – A BIG PARADE is PREPARING TO COMMENCE

ALAN and MIA are walking down the street, but Matthew is nowhere in sight. Uh oh!

ALAN RUCK
(real line)
MATTHEW ditched us. He probably went back to school.

MIA SARA
Why does everyone in this movie except MATTHEW have an IQ of…

MATTHEW BRODERICK
(from parade float, real line)
This is for my friend, ALAN, who doesn’t think he’s seen anything good today…ALAN RUCK, this one’s for you!

(launches into “TWIST AND SHOUT”. Everyone goes nuts. A group of AFRICAN-AMERICANS boogie rhythmically on some steps. An IMPOSSIBLY ADORABLE TODDLER gets funky in her stroller. MATTHEW’s DAD glances out the window but misses seeing his SON. The FLOAT GIRLS practically assault MATTHEW as he camps it up. And ALAN cheers up – at least MARGINALLY.)

EXT. POLICE STATION – BACK in BORING-SUBURBVILLE

CHARLIE SHEEN is sitting next to JENNIFER, ready to dispense some on-the-fly therapeutic advice.

JENNIFER GREY
CHARLIE, I don’t care that you’re wearing the LEATHER JACKET of IMPOSSIBLY HUNKY JUVENILE DELINQUENTNESS. Stay away from me, I’m in enough trouble.

CHARLIE SHEEN
Well, I’m at the start of my acting career, but let me help you anyway. Your main problem is that you’re jealous because everyone worships MATTHEW and ignores you. But I see through your tough exterior and know that you’re aching for affection.

JENNIFER GREY
And your remedy is?

CHARLIE SHEEN
Let’s make out.

They do, but are shortly interrupted by JENNIFER’s DISPLEASED MOM. Uh oh!

EXT. THE RUCK GARAGE

ALAN RUCK
Shit, the miles aren’t coming off the car! You promised they would. I’m dead.

MATTHEW BRODERICK
(displaying selflessness for the first time in the movie)
ALAN, don’t worry. When your father comes home, I’ll tell him it’s my fault. I’ll take the heat.

ALAN RUCK
(suddenly developing cojones for the first time in the movie)
No, that’s all right. I gotta take a stand.

AUDIENCE
Yes! You rock. You may be even cooler than MATTHEW.

But in his NEWFOUND RESOLVE, ALAN kicks the car too hard, and it sails through the garage window, where it will become covered in bird shit and other ravine debris shortly, and perhaps ALAN’s carcass will join it after DAD sees the mess, too. Oops!

ALAN RUCK
Er…well, too late to back down now. That would kind of make my whole character arc beside the point. So I’ll see you guys later.

MATTHEW realizes that his parents are about to come home, and so races to beat the clock, which he almost does – but then runs smack into JEFFREY. Oops. But then JENNIFER saves the day!

JENNIFER GREY
JEFFREY, I have your keys and your wallet. You’re in no position to be lording it over my brother. So why don’t you take your bedraggled self off. Maybe there’s a school bus you can board to increase your humiliation factor somewhere.

HE does. And MATTHEW makes it back into bed safely. And lives to break the fourth wall another day.

END

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Look Back: Election

School elections, along with alcohol, sex and temporary new friends with issues, have traditionally been a great way for sitcom characters to learn life lessons. Usually, one of the main characters winds up running for office, but regardless of who it is, everyone learns that popularity shouldn’t count when it comes to electing a student body president, and that it should wind up being the best person for the job. In real life, at least when I was in school, popularity only played so much of a role – those elected were more or less in the middle of the spectrum. Also, not everyone chose to vote for an actual candidate, instead preferring to nominate someone who technically didn’t exist. (In my day, it was Bart Simpson.)

However, the 1999 movie “Election,” based on the book by Tom Perrotta, gets it right. Matthew Broderick plays a high school civics teacher who loves his job but runs into trouble when he tries, in the words of his antagonist, a student overachiever played by Reese Witherspoon, “to interfere with destiny.” Reese, who earlier had an affair with Matthew’s fellow teacher (Mark Harelik), rubs Matthew the wrong way because she is just so relentless in her quest to succeed. Perhaps because of this, or maybe as another character points out that no one really cares about elections, she is running unopposed for student body president. Still, she intends to campaign her eager little heart out, and while she does not sabotage anyone at first, you get the sense it might only be because she’s guaranteed to win.

However, this is not a movie where the adults have a firmer grasp on “ethics” and “morals,” the difference between which Matthew tries to teach his class. Mark’s character is described as becoming a teacher, “because he never wanted to leave high school,” and we soon realize that this also applies to Matthew. He likes being liked by his students, but every now and then, he gets one that makes him feel, well, inadequate. Dismayed that if Reese wins, they are going to be spending a lot of time together, he enlists an amiable jock (Paul Klein) to run opposite her. At first, Paul is daunted by doing so, but after Matthew gives him a pep talk using easily grasped metaphors like fruit, he gets into the spirit. Unfortunately, Paul’s younger sister (Jessica Campbell) decides to also run, for reasons she does not share with him, but have to do with her former friend going out with Paul. Jessica chooses to run on a platform of indifference and cynicism, and after she promises to abolish elections if she gets elected, soon has the whole school giving her a standing ovation. Surprisingly, this new challenge does not go over well with Reese.

It’s hard not to draw parallels to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” with Matthew now in the Mr. Rooney role, especially as his personal life begins to unravel as the election progresses. There’s a part where he shows up at school bedraggled, only to be offered a cupcake by Reese, which is reminiscent of the end scene in “Ferris,” where a girl on the school bus offers Mr. Rooney a gummi bear. Eventually, Matthew is forced to leave the school, but if you are expecting this to somehow alter his beliefs, you would be wrong. No one in the movie changes – for the better or for the worse – and since we’re privy to their inner thoughts, we know this for sure. It’s Paul’s character, who remains a genuinely nice guy throughout, who winds up far more satisfied with his life than either Reese or Matthew.  The black humor comes from the viewer realizing that the characters themselves don’t grasp that they haven’t changed. Inability to see one’s flaws isn’t a trait confined only to the young or the old here, and if there’s a “message,” it may just be that the ability to see the good in people may far outweigh one’s success in life than either ethics or morals.