Say Anything (1989) — Laughs, tunes, and heartbreak

“I am looking for a dare-to-be-great situation.”

Justin’s rating: Sad yet smashing

Justin’s review: As with most movies that I really like, I desire to get the imperfections out of the way first. This romance-comedy-drama suffers from what we (I) call “Three Women Going To A Restaurant Complex” — it simply can’t make up its mind. The beginning of this movie has many hysterical moments and lines, and the audience gets sucked into a comedy. Then the romance kicks in, and the audience (at least the fairly intelligent ones, the ones that don’t pick up their Ju-Ju-Bees after they fall to the floor) deftly adapts to handle a dual themed movie: romance and comedy.

But when you get a depressing plot line developing toward the end, and the comedy dies out somewhere near the middle, we (I) all become befuddled as to what we’re supposed to think of this movie. So that’s something you’re just going to have to prepare for before seeing this.

With that caveat out of the way, I will declare that Say Anything is one of my favorite romantic flicks. John Cusack can play the romantic lead without us guys hating him for perfect looks and spotless personality. Plus, he’s funny, and we forgive funny. He’s a weird kickboxer who falls hard for Diana, the high school valedictorian who nobody really cares about. He’s one of us, a hopeless romantic who is pursuing a woman far above his social standing. Of course, this being the movies and all, he attains this goal where the rest of us end up with deep emotional scars. But that’s okay, since it’s John Cusack.

I like this film because it takes love from a non-simplistic worldview. Love is highly complex and often confusing. Life is not a storybook story with Girl Meets Boy, Girl Falls For Boy, Marriage And Small People Come Forth kind of setting. Love often happens when we’re least expecting it, and with the least likely person. Say Anything takes this couple through a rollercoaster of crises and climaxes, from their first date through a breakup and a family problem. Lloyd and Diane are not the ideal couple in an ideal situation, but somehow they get by.

That serious stuff all said, this movie kicks in two departments. First, there are some of the best lines (both funny and serious) that anybody should memorize for future use. Second, there’s The Scene. Few movies have The Scene and this one does. It’s a scene that sends your body into goosebump heaven, as you are overcome with the moment. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but it happens right after their breakup, and involves a Peter Gabriel song and absolutely no dialogue. But it says so much.

Say Anything is held closely to my heart because it tells me to damn the man and stay the hopeless romantic that I am. My favorite line is at the end when Diana asks Lloyd, “Nobody think’s it will work, do they?” He replies, “No. You’ve just described every great success story.” Chills, man, chills. John Cusack, you are the underrated king of romance.

Clare’s rating: The Citizen Kane of teen romance flicks

Clare’s review: I’ve tried many many times to write a review for this movie that didn’t sound totally crazy and lame. However, this was the movie I chose to review on my application to become a Mutant, so clearly J-man and Pooldude must have found my crazy lameness somewhat endearing (or amusing), so here, with a few minor changes, is the review I built my career on. Wait, why are you laughing so hard?

It’s Seattle in the late ’80s before “grunge” is a word used on the nightly news and teen angst is a throw away phrase used by MTV correspondents. John Cusack plays Lloyd Dobler, a recent high school grad who, so far, hasn’t figured out what he wants to do with his life. He’s fallen for the girl of his dreams apparently after a very meaningful “date” in a mall food court with class brain and unapproachable beauty Diane Court (Ione Skye).

He gets the cajones together to call her up and ask her to the annual senior graduation kegathon — to which she actually agrees to go. The rest, as they say, is one of the best teen romantic comedy/drama/coming-of-age tales ever told. Practically every scene is quote-worthy and the soundtrack is packed with songs from the likes of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Fishbone, and Peter Gabriel.

John Cusack’s performance as the genuinely decent, unconventionally handsome and unrelentingly optimistic Lloyd Dobler is one for the record books.

Although the central plot revolves around Lloyd and Diane’s blossoming friendship “with potential,” there are also steller performances handed in by the always watchable John Mahoney as Diane’s good-hearted, but ultimately flawed father (who also starred with Cusack in Eight Men Out) and undisputed indie queen Lily Taylor as Lloyd’s best friend with a serious case of heartbreak. Also watch for Cusack’s real life friend-since-childhood Jeremy (“you must chill!!”) Piven and a nearly unrecognizable Eric Stoltz as “Rooster,” party thrower extraordinaire.

If you rent this movie and aren’t deeply affected by its quiet honesty, you’re either made of wood, dead inside or have been dumped one too many times by the class uber-brain and unapproachable beauty in your life without the benefit of a Hollywood reconciliation.

One comment

  1. A gentle reminder that “cajones” means “crates” or “drawers”, lounge the ones you put socks in. “Cojones” is the slang for “balls”, and I suspect you may have wanted that one. 🙂

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