“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” hit theaters 30 years ago, on June 11, 1986. Sadly, a Saturday, so most people have the day off. Still, the essential 80s movie remains an inspiration for anyone who wants to skip out.
The film not only helped launch the acting career of Matthew Broderick — who stars as the high-school senior taking the epic fake sick day — but also that of economist Ben Stein, who played the teacher who uttered some of the film’s most memorable lines: “Bueller?….Bueller?”
Time interviewed the lawyer and former speechwriter for Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, who bonded with director John Hughes over their shared conservative political views:
TIME: How does the movie represent a certain period in American history?
Stein: America at that time was in the midst of the Reagan boom, so we were all in a pretty good mood. The end of the ’70s were really bad economic times, and after the dark times of Watergate, I think Ferris was to some extent reacting to the fact that things were better. What was his mother’s occupation? Luxury real estate broker. Those were happier days, a much more optimistic age — even though we were running large deficits. Ferris Bueller’s optimism was very representative of the era, and it was very representative of who John Hughes was. He was an ardent Republican and extreme conservative. He believed Reagan could transform all of us into Ferris Buellers. Ferris was an artifact of a free era. Ronald Reagan was all about freedom. Ferris was an unregulated high school kid in an unregulated world. It was “morning in America,” and it was morning for Ferris.
I also think there’s a similarity to the politician Huey Long’s Every Man a King, which proposed taking the wealth of the great, rich people and spreading it around the ordinary citizens of America, that’s sort of what Ferris did. Ferris was king.
What does the movie say about being an American teen?
When Ferris was a kid, life was much more innocent and sweeter. Ferris is Huckleberry Finn. Today’s kids can’t imagine riding down the Mississippi river on a raft. If they want to go on a trip, they put on their goggles and play a video game. Their world is a tiny world inside a computer chip.
How would things be different if it were made in 2016?
I think the kids would also be smoking tons of dope, having tons of sex, [there would be] violence. It’d have to be racially diverse so one of his friends would be a black person or Hispanic person because that’s the way the world is today.
And I think Ferris would really have fun with Donald Trump because Donald Trump is such an incredible bag of hot air. I could see it now: There’s that great scene when [Ferris] goes into the fancy restaurant he pretends to be Abe Froman ‘the sausage king.’ I think there’d be a cameo of Mr. Trump at the same restaurant. I think if the movie were being filmed today, my economics lesson would talk about Mr. Trump’s extremely unusual idea that he can drastically cut taxes and also pay off the federal deficit. The deregulation part [of his economic policy] is very sensible, but other than that, it’s a joke.
There has been talk of a sequel over the years. What do you think about that?
I personally would prefer if there was no sequel. I don’t think you can mess with perfection.