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Say Anything…

January 7, 2010

There’s something about 80s teen films that I just adore. They have a perfect balance of drama, romance, and comedy; something that the flamboyantly cheesy 1960s beach party films and the overly dramatic and miscast depictions of teens in 1970s lacked. The 1980s picked up the previous generations slack and comedic films centered on teenagers and their social lives. Sure some of the films were brainless sex comedies but the majority had serious, hilarious, and relatable stories to tell. Most of the films consisted of diverse characters that made nerds and outcasts attractive and cool while calling for individuality in all characters, something that films before hadn’t done for teens and that directors have now forgotten how to do.

Yet out of all the 80s films that I love, Say Anything… is without a doubt the best. It took me 22 years of my life to finally see it in its entirety and to be honest I’m glad because I don’t think I would have appreciated it as much as I do now. Say Anything shows that romantic teen comedies can exist without nudity and shit jokes and it’s definitely one of the smartest films of its time and even today. I assumed that by the time it got to the iconic scene of John Cusack holding the Peter Gabriel blasting boom box, I’d slightly vomit in my mouth however to my pleasant surprise I smiled to myself and said aloud “I wish a guy would do that for me.”

Lloyd (John Cusack) is just an average quirky sensitive guy who decides to ask out Diana (Ion Skye), a “brain” and class valedictorian aka the type of girl who wouldn’t bat an eye at him. Yet Diana, on the verge of pre-quarter life crisis with fears of college, decides to give Lloyd at chance and go out with him. Her reason being “because he made me laugh” leading to the biggest “awww” reaction I’ve given since watching The Notebook. A relationship between the two blossoms, emit Diane’s desire to keep things friendly due to an upcoming out of the country fellowship. Yet things soon become serious but pressure from her father and his pending fraud investigation causes Diane to dump Lloyd leaving him with a pen and broken confused heart.

Many films from the prior generations suffer from not having the same impact they may have at that time of their release like the awfully unfunny Bringing Up Baby and the overly dated Caddyshack, but Say Anything is only dated in its technology not its story and characters. The iPhone/internet generation today may not get the humor of scenes like Lloyd rocking out to a skipping cassette tape in his car and having to put a piece of cardboard in to fix it. Whether or not your taste of humor is satisfied by Say Anything the heart of the story can’t be denied as its main focus is what love and heartbreak does to people whether it be good or bad. One character is so infatuated with an ex that she attempted suicide and now spends her time writing countless angry girl love songs about him to his sick pleasure. Another character has to deal with finding her old self after a breakup left her angry at the world and Lloyd’s personal analysis after he and Diane’s breakup reflects emotions that nearly everyone has dealt with in some way when feeling inadequate to a significant other.

John Cusack has been one of my favorite actors since I was a kid and I remember why every time I watch his films (and no I haven’t seen 2012… I’m trying not to taint my image of Cusack). An actor’s job is to convey human emotion and qualities and Cusack has mostly always done that perfectly allowing audiences to empathize with each of his characters. With Cusack’s performance and director/writer Cameron Crowe’s vision and endearing script, Say Anything’s legacy makes it the smartest of its genre and without a doubt one of the best of its time. I found myself snuggling into blankets on a rainy day with a sigh of relief and contentment when it ended. Regardless of its fluff and romantic story Say Anything is anything but a chick flick. The male is the lead, the male’s emotions are focused on, and it’s the male who cries the most, something this macho society likes to ignore.


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