Cinemassholes #5: Ed Rooney

3rd August 2005

Whether you call it skiving, twagging, dodging or bunking, the art of skipping school was one fraught with danger and not easily mastered by the average teen. At least, it was until the baby-faced Ferris Bueller decided he couldn't face gym class any more and convinced his friends to have the best damn day of their lives, giving an entire generation of school kids new and exciting ideas on how to play truant in the process. However, while Ferris and pals were out having the time of their life, spare a thought for the poor guy who had to take the rap - one Edward R. Rooney, headmaster and arch-nemesis of the wily Bueller. There are no days off for Ed; he's got a whole school of deadheads to teach, none of which respect him, all of which loathe him, down to the very last kid roaming the school halls.

Ed Rooney is the anti-Ferris. He's a fun vacuum, a black hole of excitement, a depressing stick of gloom wrapped in an ill-fitting tight grey suit and a cheap gold watch. The man looks like a tumour with a face, death defrosted, a giant kidney bean with a ginger moustache that even a twelve-year-old chav would turn his nose up at. They say that in many cases, two enemies hate each other because they are so alike, but in the case of Ferris and Rooney, it couldn't be farther from the truth - one wants to live life to the fullest in case it passes him by, the other is far more concerned about the flecks of dirt manifesting on his desk. They might think Ferris is a righteous dude, but the sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies and dickheads all despise Rooney, and with good reason. Imagine, that Ferris - out wasting his time singing in parades, driving Ferraris and eating pancreas at a fancy restaurant when he could be sat quietly at school, exercising his brain as well as his body. He needs some discipline drilled into him; there's only one man up for the job, and it's not Dirty Harry.

Well, it might as well be to Rooney's secretary, Grace. Secretly harbouring a mammoth crush on her employer, Grace sits at her desk and chews her pen lid while she watches Rooney take control of his unruly students, screaming at the top of his voice down the phone and airing about as much authority as a three legged guard dog with cancer. No wonder Rooney's face is a permanent shade of beetroot red with a halfwit like Grace in the office; her every word simply serving to twist his head a few more degrees towards insanity. It's probably Grace's sheer presence in the office that forces Rooney out on the road to find the errant Ferris - in fact, Ed positively revels in his new role of Private Dick, staking out all the high school hangouts complete with his ridiculous flip-up shades and witty one-liners that would look cool, if only he'd collared the right man (or woman, as it happens).

Though he's loathed to admit it, Rooney is out of his depth trying to catch the mighty Ferris. Even when he thinks all his detective work has paid off and invades the Bueller family household, expecting to catch the AWOL youngster red-handed, he still manages to end up staring the wrong way down a barrel-full of ass-kicking. Outwitted at every turn, made to look an ass after every endeavour, Rooney just can't catch a break - after being spat on, swamped by mud, savaged by a Rottweiler and kicked in the face repeatedly by Baby from Dirty Dancing, he stumbles dejectedly out to the road, only to see his illegally parked car towed away down the road. It is here Rooney reaches rock bottom and unleashes one of the finest, most exasperated line deliveries of all time, directed at the non-plussed two-truck drivers as they slowly drive over the horizon. "You SHITHEADS!" screeches Rooney, bedraggled, defeated and a long way from the teacher's lounge. You wouldn't wish it on a broke dick dog.

If Ed Rooney thought that a breaking and entering charge was the worst thing that was coming his way, Ed Rooney had another thing coming. In 2002, actor Jeffrey Jones was charged with possession of child pornography and one count of employing a minor with the purpose of taking explicit photography - Lord only knows what after school detention with ol' Rooney would have been like. It certainly lends a sinister feel to the whole 'sweaty old man pursues school children' angle once you learn about the man's hobbies - I'm pretty sure every kid seems to think that some of their high school teachers might have an 'extra-curricular' interest in their children, but in Ferris Bueller's case, it just happened to be true. Pardon my French, but you're an asshole! Ali

More:  Cinemassholes
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