Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Movie Review: "Say Anything..." (1989)



Writer/director Cameron Crowe's "Say Anything..." was released 25 years ago. A generation later, it's romantic themes still resonate today. This was Crowe's directorial debut, having written "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" and "The Wild Life" previously. He would go on to write and direct "Singles", "Jerry Maguire" and the autobiographical "Almost Famous". This film is often grouped in with all the other teen comedies of the 1980's, but it is much more than just a high school film about puppy love. Actually, the movie does not contain any scenes in a high school. This is a film about love, relationships, betrayal and heartbreak.

Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) has recently graduated from a Seattle high school. His plans for the future are unknown. His passion is kickboxing, which he calls "the sport of the future". He knows that one thing he wants to do is have a date with Diane Court (Ione Skye). Diane is the valedictorian, who has been awarded a prestigious college fellowship to study in England. He has a scene with two of his female friends, Corey (Lili Taylor) and D.C. (Amy Brooks). They tell Lloyd that he is wasting his time since Diane is "a brain, trapped in the body of a game show hostess." The thing that is likeable about Lloyd Dobler is his unwavering optimism. A friend at a party asked how he got a date with Diane. His response? "I asked her out". Lloyd lives in the moment. He is not troubled by anxieties about future plans. This is endearing to many, but those qualities make him seem like a slacker in the eyes of Jim Court (John Mahoney), Diane's father, who only wants the best for his daughter.

What does Diane see in Lloyd? The answer is quite simple. He makes her laugh, he's a gentleman and she likes spending time with him. On their first date, she was impressed when he steered her around walking through some broken glass in a convenience store parking lot. They go to a party together. He does not smother her, demanding her attention at all times, but yet he checks up on her now and then. She feels safe with him.

Like any Cameron Crowe film, music plays a key part in the movie. Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" is played when Diane and Lloyd first make love in the back of a car. Later it is played on his boombox as he holds it over his head outside her window.

Diane is close with her father. Her parents are divorced and she does not see her mother very much. He father pushes her to succeed. He was over the moon when she was awarded a fellowship to study in England. They have a relationship where they can say anything to one another. He buys her nice gifts, like a car as a graduation gift. It is revealed that Jim Court is under investigation by the I.R.S. for mishandling of funds at the nursing home that he manages. Diane is shattered at the thought of her father as a criminal who stole from the elderly. He justifies it as helping him to provide a good life for her. The #1 man in Diane's life shifts from her father to Lloyd. Under pressure from her dad, she breaks up with Lloyd and later regrets it. She visits him at his kickboxing gym and tells him "If I hurt you again, I'll die. I love you."

This film was praised by critics, especially the influential Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert who gave it two thumbs up. Ebert gave it 4 stars, his highest rating, calling it one of the best films of the year. He described it as "a miracle." This movie has a simple story but the superb acting and chemistry of the cast make it special. Along with "Almost Famous" this is Cameron Crowe's best work. Those in Generation X have a special place in their hearts for this film along with the teen comedies by John Hughes.

Cast

Lloyd Dobler.....John Cusack
Diane Court.....Ione Skye
James Court.....John Mahoney
Constance Dobler.....Joan Cusack (uncredited)
Corey.....Lili Taylor
D.C......Amy Brooks
Mark.....Jeremy Piven
Mrs. Evans.....Bebe Neuwirth
Vahlere.....Eric Stoltz


Trivia

Ione Skye, who played Diane, is known for other films such as "Wayne's World" and "River's Edge." She appeared in TV shows such as "Arrested Development" and "Private Practice." She has dated Anthony Kiedis from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who provided a song for the soundtrack. She was married to Adam Horovitz, known as "Ad Rock" from Beastie Boys. She is currently married to musician Ben Lee. She was born in London in 1970. She is a graduate of Hollywood High School.

Lloyd's friend D.C. (Amy Brooks) is the daughter of the film's executive producer, James L. Brooks.

Jeremy Piven played one of the guys that hangs out at the Gas'N Sip convenience store. Lloyd went to talk to them about girls after Diane broke up with him.

Two actors with connections to Kelsey Grammer's character of Frasier Crane were in the film. They included John Mahoney who played Frasier's dad, and Bebe Neuwirth, who played Frasier's wife Lilith.

John Cusack's real life sister, Joan Cusack, played his sister in the film. But, her role was uncredited.

The guy fighting Lloyd Dobler in the ring was Don "The Dragon" Wilson, an acclaimed kickboxer himself.

Jim Court was so overjoyed when Diane won the fellowship to England, he sang a Steely Dan song in the car ("Rikki Don't Lose That Number").

Actor Eric Stoltz had a small role in the film, and was also a production assistant on set.

The cost for using Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" was about $250,000 in 1989.

Instead of John Cusack, the role of Lloyd Dobler could have ended up being portrayed by Christian Slater, Robert Downey Jr. or Kirk Cameron.

Instead of Ione Skye, the role of Diane Court could have gone to Jennifer Connelly or Elisabeth Shue.

The gym used in this film was the same one used in "The Karate Kid."

Some information from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0098258/?ref_=nm_ov_bio_lk1 and the book "You Couldn't Ignore Me if You Tried: The Brat Pack, John Hughes and Their Impact on a Generation" by Susannah Gora, 2010 by Crown Publishers, New York.


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