Say Anything (1989)
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John Cusack, Ione Skye, John Mahoney, Joan Cusack, Lili Taylor, Richard Portnow, Pamela Segall, Jason Gould, Loren Dean, Bebe Neuwirth, Aimee Brooks, Eric Stoltz, Chynna Phillips, Jeremy Piven, Don Wilson
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Optimism As a Revolutionary Choice
Favorite Movie Quote: "The world is full of guys. Be a man. Don't be a guy."
As told by Cameron Crowe, he and John Cusack were in a bar the night Say Anything was released when a fan approached Cusack and blurted out, "Oh, my God, it's Lloyd; are you Lloyd?" Cusack simply said, "on my better days, yes, I'm Lloyd."
That would be Lloyd Dobler (Cusack), that unremarkable high school everyman that no one remembers except those who took the time to get to know him; those could never forget him. Lloyd, the determined optimist, gets it in his head to ask out Diane Court (Ione Skye), valedictorian, a "brain, trapped in the body of a gameshow hostess", the girl everyone knows of but no one really knows, and also a bit of a pessimist, with a father (John Mahohey) who tries to direct her life more rigidly than those Tron motorcycles (though he uses cunning and manipulation). As Lloyd and Diane quickly get to the truth of one another - liking what they see - Diane must also deal with her impending education abroad, her father's dislike of Lloyd, and her father's sudden legal troubles with the IRS - truths less pleasant.
Say Anything succeeds on every level it was hoping to and several for which it possibly never planned. To this day this film still resides in the "Comedy" section and is mostly regarded as a "teen" movie though I can safely say that at 36 years old the film has just as much if not more resonance today than when I first saw it in the theaters at the age of 14. The story easily could've existed +4 years as an end of college flick or even retooled for later than that because the themes aren't isolated to - in fact are very mature for - people just graduating high school.
I love the complicated relationship between Diane and her father. The meaning of the pen (to me) was Diane's clear choice to her father that he was no longer the most important man in her life; Lloyd was (since it was the same pen). I also thought one of the most powerful twists of dialog was her stating to her father, "It always feels better to tell you the truth. Because if I can't tell you, it's like it didn't happen." Which I think is precisely why he lies to her as long as he does about his situation.
There is, of course, Lloyd to discuss. Personally, I think Cusack should've been nominated for an Academy Award for Say Anything. Not only is this a great performance (kudos all around the film, really), but Lloyd is one of the iconic characters of the eighties, imminently quotable, with a noble idiom of truth and optimism, a man who loves women without being a doormat or gay; what every woman should want, and what every man should want to be. Also, in retrospect, in an extremely commercially successful career, Cusack would be hardpressed to top his performance as Lloyd Dobler in Say Anything.
I also want to mention the Seattle slew of retroactive cameoes (in 1989 most of these people weren't on the radar) such as Lili Taylor (far more than a cameo; Lili's awesome), Eric Stoltz, Bebe Neuwirth, Loren Dean, Jeremy Piven, Amiee Brooks, and of course (one day to be Oscar Winner) Joan Cusack, among others.
It's odd to compare Say Anything to, say, Leap Year, both considered rom-coms. Either Say Anything is grossly mislabled, or it illustrates that the field of romantic comedies is a much wider spectrum. It's also sad that because a movie doesn't shoehorn neatly into a genre, Hollywood marketers view it as a three-eyed fish. Say Anything survived its theatrical release but really cleaned up on home video (thankfully). Despite this lesson and others like it, I wonder if the film industry will ever overcome its over-reliance on statistics and data as it churns out each summer of progressively more vapid flicks.
Probably not. But just knowing Say Anything exist, that's gotta be a good thing, right? Gotta be a good thing.
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