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FILM ONLY REVIEW
Found languishing on my PVR this wonderful late 1980s film provided a couple of hours of superb entertainment and a great chance to reminisce and relive some of the fab music of the era!
Set in Seattle we open with the classic American high school graduation scene. Class of 1988 star Diane Court (Ione Skye) is pitched as the outsider, the girl that's cute, beautiful and highly intelligent. She's the girl who doesn't make friends at school, keeping peers at a distance and, as a result, them keeping her at a distance. Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) is the love interest, the directionless young man who decides that he really wants to date Diane despite his apparent unsuitability - he sees, in Diane, something more than just a big brain.
Diane lives with her father John (John Mahoney) following her parent's divorce. John and Diane have an incredibly close relationship and it is clear that John will do anything for his daughter ensuring that she always has the best - least in his eyes. Diane's life is mapped out by her father and, despite this seemingly overly controlling behaviour Diane's relationship with her father is such that she feels she can "say anything" to her Dad. She assumes that this is a reciprocal thing....
Securing a fellowship (scholarship) to England Diane has just 16 weeks left in Seattle before heading off to the UK. As Diane falls for Lloyd, much to her father's despair, Lloyd decides that his goal is to spend as much time during those 16 weeks as he can. Diane starts to experience the fun that can be had in a way she never has before but the course of love never runs straight and if a controlling father and pending trip to England were not enough the IRS then knock on John Court's door.
The strain that this puts all of the characters under is then explored with a credibility that has stood the test of time. Relationships come under the microscope and we see how they are tested.
The subject matter of the film is dealt with in such a credible way. I found I could really relate to Diane - I didn't have controlling parents but I do have parents who want the best for me. I was the egg-head who seemed out of reach to the normal guys. I did distance myself from those who I thought would sway me from my goals. Like Diane I didn't experience true teen stuff until much later, often, like Diane, just too late. Diane's character and her portrayal by Ione Skye was, at times, too close for comfort. Credit to all involved here!
Whether Lloyd was as accurate I couldn't say but I can certainly think of experiences and people who would seem to fit the bill; those who didn't make the move but wanted to, revealing as much as time went on.
The relationship between Lloyd and Diana is built without the Hollywood treatment - the whole remains real and credible. It's fumbling, meek and shy, growing in confidence over time. The ups and downs of relationships get a look in here in a way that is often missed in films.
Similarly the relationship between Diane, her father and the love interest shares a credibility with the headline relationship. Maybe my empathy with Diane helped here but I could honestly see the reality in the fiction.
Minor roles fit well with the main theme presenting stylised characters but ones which remain believable. They add to, rather than detract from the story.
Despite being a film of the 80s and now over 20 years old it's not a film that feels terribly dated. Yes, the fashions set the era (although given the shoulder-pad revival I wonder whether it will remain so) but the subject matter and the emotions will never date.
As with any great 80s film the soundtrack plays a major role and, in my opinion, is an excellent example of the genre. The headline track has to be Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" which is used to dramatic effect by Lloyd, hoping to woo Diane. The image, which has become the cover of the DVD will stick in your mind.
The film is very well paced and feels neither slow nor rushed. There's a refreshingly good script and, I've said it before, a cracking realism. "Say Anything" might not be one of the most well known films of the 80s but it deserves more acclaim as a cinematic piece, a great story and a true reflection of the era. It's engaging (and not just a girly film) and actually tackles some pretty big relationship issues in a way that is meaningful and engaging. It's not a shallow film but it watches well, allowing you to engage, empathise and laugh with, rather than at, the characters.
Nearing graduation Lloyd Dobler falls in love with valedictorian Diane, although his friends raise their doubts, he plucks up the courage to ask her out, eventually coercing her to come with him to a house party, beginning their relationship.
On the surface Dobler appears to be easy to relate to. He's just a genuinely nice guy. There's not much else to him otherwise, he's has no real problems in his life and no real character flaws. It's repeatedly stated that he's an underachiever but his reasons for this never make it into the plot with any real force nor is it noticeable had we not been told. In fact, the only thing, really, in his life is Diane. What a sweetheart.
Diane is equally spotless, perhaps even more so with her fellowship to some prestigious English college.
Before the end of the house party, our two characters meet practically a conveyor belt of far more interesting characters who merely have a brief intrusion on the narrative before slipping straight back out again. A goatee-d ginger man who dresses up as a chicken every year, a lovelorn New Romantic-type who can't handle his drink, a gang of misogynistic know-it-alls who hang about outside at a petrol station. All of whom are far more interesting than our little lovestruck couple, yet all simply disappear after their short cameos, leaving us stranded with the mind numbingly dull antics of Dobler, Diane and her Dad. It makes you desperately want to rewind and follow what happened to the New Romantic once they so abruptly dropped him off at his house. But no. Instead we're stuck in the same claustrophobic triad.
Post-party the rest of the film is just a collection of sickeningly sweet scenes with our lovestruck couple. Aw, he's phoning her in the pouring rain. Yawn. Aw, look he's teaching her to drive. Yawn, yawn. Aw, he got kicked in the face because he was so happy to see her. Again, yawn. Aw, he's babbling inanities to her on the telephone... I could go on.
Eventually it's just, do I honestly care any more? Am I mildly autistic or something because I'm feeling absolutely no emotion towards either of these people? I know it's supposed to capture all the joy/vomit-inducing sweetness of young love but frankly, young love is usually far far more awkward than this. This is like some preppy schoolgirls daydream. And most young people aren't as clean cut as these two, at least not if they're interesting.
There is some relief from this torment as we near the end as the accusations surrounding Diane's Dad reach boiling point and we're allowed something else to watch. But even that's not exactly gripping. Anyway, it's too little, too late.
The soundtrack is also horrific. If people actually listened to that in the 80s then god help us.
I'm going to compare this film with another teen film I watched only yesterday, Can't Hardly Wait. Apologies if you haven't seen it but I'll be brief. This would be a bit similar to Can't Hardly Wait if it had a lot less humour with less developed, less interesting characters and only one plot line. That was the thing about CHW, there were entertaining distractions. Whereas this is just a continuous one-track crusade, not letting go for anybody, anyone or anything.
To give the film some credit, it is fairly well acted and almost entirely original. It is also far more realistic in it's portrayal of teenagers, not resorting to the overblown stereotypes so often flung in our faces by teen flicks. I will concede the keyman thing was also a little funny.
But it's still boring.
*This is a film only review*
Released in 1989, a couple years late to be dragged under the 'Brat Pack' banner, 'Say anything' was Cameron Crowe's directorial debut in the years before he found fame with 'Almost Famous,' 'Jerry Maguire', 'Vanilla Sky' and (uckk!) 'Elizabethtown.'
John Cusack plays Lloyd, recently graduated from high school and drawn to Diane, played by Ione Skye - a high achiever due to go to England on an academic scholarship at the end of the summer. On a whim, he asks her out. Impressed by his confidence and his sense of humour she agrees and the two begin dating. However, some interference comes in the form of her father (played by Frasier's John Maloney), the well-off owner of a nursing home who is not overprotective as such, but has high hopes for her which extend beyond getting involved with someone seemingly no aim in life.
Diane's relationship with her father is so important because in her parents' divorce proceedings, she chose to live with him rather than her mother. As her relationship with Lloyd intensifies, she feels guilty about spending less time with her father, but her father may have his own secrets which will threaten their future.
Firstly, I have to say that Cusack is just amazing in this film. His portrayal of Lloyd as a decent all-round human being that you really care about is pitch perfect. When he shows anguish , it is truly believeable and heartbreaking. I also want to mention Lili Taylor who plays his best female friend who is suffering from some real romantic trauma of her own.
This is a film with real heart. The characters are really well-rounded and believable. You can imagine any woman falling for Lloyd despite his imprefections. And although the plot seems to resemble a million other teen movies, there are some subtle differences which make it so much better than the generic. Firstly, it doesn't patronise the viewer - it doesn't feel the need to explain every little detail of its character's lives - ie you never really find out what happened between Diane's parents and how she came to choose to live with her father. The emotional moments are that, emotional rather than sentimental or overcooked.
As you would expect from Crowe, the use of music is excellent - in particular "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel which is used in two seminal scenes - including the iconic "boombox aloft" scene.
All -in -all I loved this film, it has really stayed with me since I watched it and for £2.98 on Amazon you can't really go wrong. I wouldn't be surprised if I might give this THE higher rating in time.
As a child of the eighties, I have fond memories of iconic teen film classics such as "Some Kind of Wonderful", "Ferris Bueller's Day Off", and the "Breakfast Club", but there was one film, above all others, which I related to and connected with as an awkward teenager coming of age in New York - Cameron Crowe's under-rated and oft overlooked "Say Anything".
John Cusack is one of my favourite actors, and this is without doubt one of his finest early roles. He plays the "invisible everyman" to perfection - a guy who everyone knows, everyone likes, but who isn't a standout in any respect. The type of guy that girls love to have as a "friend" but don't really consider "boyfriend material". In short, a guy I could relate to back then, as I saw some of myself in his character.
The story starts with the Class of 1988 at an unnamed Seattle High School getting ready for graduation, and centres on the beautiful overachiever Diane Court (Ione Skye) and the nice guy who is desperate to date her - the noble but directionless Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack), whose only aim, for the time being, is to date Diane and possibly become a professional kick boxer.
Diane's father John (John Mahoney) runs a nursing home and appears to have a very close relationship with his daughter based on absolute trust - they feel they can "say anything" to each other. However, John is an intensely driven and ambitious father who has his daughter's life mapped out for her, and doesn't take kindly to anything that he thinks may distract her.
Lloyd falls squarely into this category, especially as his relationship with Diane progresses, and although John tolerates it at first, things start going downhill when he realises that she is falling for him, and that Lloyd has little in the way of ambition - other than to spend as much time with his daughter as possible. Matters are complicated when Diane wins a prestigious fellowship - much to her father's unbridled joy - which means she will have to leave for England in 16 weeks.
However, things are not all they seem, and when the IRS comes knocking at John McCourt's door, the ties between all three characters are severely tested. The rest of the film deftly explores the way the characters deal with the adversity and conflict that touches each of them. Will their relationships survive?
I wish I had Lloyd Dobler's optimism and courage when I was his age. I was always awkward with girls back then, so he became something of a hero to me by succeeding where I had failed. In a party scene, early on in the film, a boy called Mike, clearly on the fringes of High School society (and dressed like a reject from an 80's new wave band) approaches Lloyd and asks him how he got Diane to go on a date with him:
Mike: "I don't know you very well, you know, but I wanted to ask you - how'd you get Diane Court to go out with you?
Lloyd: "I called her up."
Mike: "But how come it worked? I mean, like, what are you?"
Lloyd: "I'm Lloyd Dobler."
Mike: "This is great. This gives me hope. Thanks."
That little exchange encapsulated my high school experience perfectly. I was Mike, but I wanted to be Lloyd. Even Diane isn't sure why she has agreed to go with him, except that she feels safe and looked after, and he makes her laugh (he has this endearing habit of talking quickly when he is nervous). Their budding relationship alternates between the awkward and the endearing. Lloyd plays the true gentleman throughout, egged on and "advised" by his coterie of close "girl" friends. This is clearly his first "real" relationship, and what he lacks in finesse, he makes up for with bags of optimism and enthusiasm.
The core relationship between Diane and her father is well realised and believable. He is clearly trying to make up for his own shortcomings by doing everything he can to ensure that his daughter has the best and is the best - but it is also clear that he is so blinkered that he doesn't realise that, despite all her achievements, she has no sense of belonging. Having spent summers away, taken on extra courses, and set herself very high goals, the High School experience has completely passed her by. This is highlighted on Lloyd and Diane's first date when driving home from a graduation party:
Diane: "Nobody knew me before tonight"
Lloyd: "They knew of you. Now they know you."
In the supporting roles, Lili Taylor - as Lloyd's best friend Corey, gives us just the right mix of caring and neurotic, and provides an amusing and touching side plot with ex-boyfriend Joe, who she is hopelessly in love with and cannot seem to let go. It's a role played to clueless and self-absorbed perfection by Loren Dean.
Lloyd: "Joe. Joe. She's written 65 songs... 65. They're all about you. They're all about pain."
Joe: "So what's up?".
The film has dated fairly well - its main themes remain fresh and relevant even twenty years on. That said, it is written very much from the teenage perspective, so those for whom it has little nostalgia value may want to knock a star off my "perfect" rating. Eighties fashion remains as bewildering as ever - all big hair and shoulder pads - with Ione Skye forced to wear a frock or two that would not look out of place on her grandmother. If you manage to ignore the woeful trappings of the era, it makes enjoyable and rewarding viewing.
The soundtrack is excellent and chock full of great tracks. However, there is one song which is indelibly linked with this film - Peter Gabriel's beautiful and haunting ballad "In Your Eyes", which was originally recorded (and appears on) his 1986 album "So". The film has an iconic moment where Lloyd is standing in front of his car in the pre-dawn light, with a boom box held high above his head with the signature song blaring from the speakers. It is a poignant image, even more so in the context of the film.
"Love, I don't like to see so much pain - so much wasted and this moment keeps slipping away. I get so tired, working so hard for our survival. I look to the time with you to keep me awake and alive..."
Other highlights on the soundtrack - which feature in the film itself - are "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" by Donald Fagen, which showcases John Mahoney's less than stellar karaoke "skills" and "Taste the Pain" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, which works well as a fitting overture to the opening scenes of the film.
The film was released in the summer of 1989 and is widely available on DVD for a budget price (currently around £4 on Amazon). It carries a 15 rating, with a running time of just over an hour and a half. There are no extras on the DVD other than the Theatrical Trailer.
With a fantastic performance by the talented John Cusack, and great turns by Ione Skye and the engaging John Mahoney, as well as an excellent supporting cast, "Say Anything" is a hidden gem that seems to have fallen under the shadow of some of its more illustrious and celebrated stable mates.
Cameron Crowe ("Jerry Maguire"; "Almost Famous"), in his directorial debut, provides a steady hand, gives the film energy and pace, and manages to steer clear of the more obvious stereotypes and lazy cliché's that plagued some of the teen movies of the time. A sparkling script, chock full of memorable quotes, helps the actors bring the story to life, and it's to their credit that they really manage to bring depth to their roles, and substance and meaning to the relationships between them.
"Say Anything" is, without doubt, my favourite teen movie of the 1980's, and a film that I feel unrepentant in being passionate about. A funny, warm-hearted romantic comedy that will appeal to both sexes, it blows away the sad litany of recent films in this genre, and could teach them a thing or two about the importance of making meaningful films with depth and soul in which the viewer can really engage and emotionally invest in its characters.
Under-rated, like its standout lead actor, it's a real classic and deserves to be treated as such. Highly recommended.
© Hishyeness 2009
I think this is one of the best movies of the 80s High School Genre, at least it is in my book. It stars John Cusack as Lloyd Dobler and Ione Skye as Diane Court. The premise of the movie is that Lloyd is in love with Diane. She is the class valedictorian and he's classified as an underachiever so their worlds don't usually collide. However, they are graduating high school soon and he's running out of time, so he asks her out on the last day of high school and it works. She agrees to go out with him and he basically woes her. They have their ups and downs along the way, as any romantic movie is suppose to have ( I don't want to give out to much cause you have to watch the movie). But the Peter Gabriel song "In your eyes" is played at a pivotal scene in the movie and everytime I see it I get goose bumps.
It's written by Cameron Crowe's and it's his first directorial debut but it has a feeling of a John Hughes' film. For all you 80s teen flick fans, you know what I'm talking about.
This 1989 produced movie is available to buy on Region 2 PAL DVD in the UK. It shows in widescreen format and has optional subtitles in English, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish. The film is approximately 96 minutes running length. The DVD extras on this disc include interactive menus and the original theatrical trailer.
The film stars a young John Cusack as Lloyd Dobler, an underachieving high school senior who has his sights set on romancing the Grade-A sweeter than icecream supergirl, Diane Court, who is played by Ione Skye.
Dobler is an optimistic young kid who is an apiring kick-boxer but who is not academically gifted or career-minded.In considering his future declares that he doesn't want to "sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career...". Infact, in an icky sweet moment which highlights the youthful innocence and idealism of the character, he tells Diane's father, James Court (played by John Mahoney) that: "What I really want to do with my life - what I want to do for a living - is I want to be with your daughter. I'm good at it."
Diane is a untouchable princess type who is clever and attractive. She graduates top of her class and intends to head to England to finish her adult education. Her father is overprotective and smothering, although she loves him dearly and is very honest with him. Skye is perfectly cast in the part as a good studious girl, a daddy's girl.
After Diane and Lloyd fall in love trouble comes when Diane's father falls soul of the law. Playing on his daughter's sympathy for his situation, he convinces his daughter to break up with Dobler in order to have her full attention. It's a nasty trick and Dobler's battle to put things right is his major moment of the movie.
The movie was written and directed by Cameron Crowe and is now considered to be one of the teen romance classics of the 1980's. It is definately aimed at teenagers although older ladies might get a kick out of the noble hero Dobler.
The movie has an big iconic moment when Dobler stands below Diane's bedroom window and lifts a boom box above his head, playing Peter Gabriel's 'In Your Eyes' to her in an attempt to reveal his feelings. This image adorns the DVD case. Trivia fans might like to know that Cusack was actually playing a song by the group 'Fishbone' and that Gabriel's track was dubbed later!
This is an enjoyable, if sickly sweet, teen romance with a clever script and likeable characters.
Seven years after he earned his first screen credit as the writer of Fast Times at Ridgemont High, former Rolling Stone writer Cameron Crowe made his directorial debut with this acclaimed romantic comedy starring John Cusack and Ione Skye as unlikely lovers on the cusp of adulthood. The casting is perfect and Crowe's rookie direction is appropriately unobtrusive, no doubt influenced by his actor-loving, Oscar-winning mentor, James L. Brooks. But the real strength of Crowe's work is his exceptional writing, his timely grasp of contemporary rhythms and language (he's frequently called "the voice of a generation"), and the rich humour and depth of his fully developed characters. In Say Anything, Cusack and Skye play recent high-school graduates enjoying one final summer before leaping into a lifetime of adult responsibilities. Lloyd (Cusack) is an aspiring kickboxer with no definite plans; Diane (Skye) is a valedictorian with plans to further her education in Europe. Together they find unlikely bliss, but there's also turbulence when Diane's father (John Mahoney)--who only wants what's best for his daughter--is charged with fraud and tax evasion. Favouring strong performances over obtrusive visual style, Crowe focuses on his unique characters and the ambitions and fears that define them; the movie's a treasure trove of quiet, often humorous revelations of personality. Lili Taylor and Eric Stoltz score high marks for memorable supporting roles, and Cusack's own sister Joan is perfect in scenes with her on- and offscreen brother. A rare romantic comedy that's as funny as it is dramatically honest, Say Anything marked the arrival of a gifted writer-director who followed up with the underrated Singles before scoring his first box-office smash with Jerry Maguire. --Jeff Shannon