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Say Anything (1989)

  Directed by: Cameron Crowe
Written by: Cameron Crowe
Starring: John Cusack, John Mahoney, Ione Skye, Lili Taylor
Links: Say Anything on the IMDb, Buy on DVD, Buy on Video, Buy the Soundtrack
Genre: Romance

This movie gets: 9.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

Say Anything (1989) is also mentioned in em_fiction's review of Grosse Pointe Blank (1997).

"Cusack is the sparkly bit in this gem" - a review by em_fiction

Most people already know this, but you don't always have to be a fan of a particular genre in order to love a film of that genre. A good film will always be a good film, and given that it is a good film, it'll stay that way regardless of its genre. You see, my theory on the way we distinguish good films is quite simple: all films are initially separated into two categories — ones that are unconditionally good and ones that are tentative. The tentative ones are then once again sorted into good and bad, but this time based on genre preference (maybe other things too, but just for the sake of the argument). Then of course, there are those that are unconditionally bad, but I'm not going there today. Any film that requires a person to have to rely on its genre in order to enjoy is just a mediocre film being enhanced. A good film wouldn't need that because, let's face it, it's already good. Likewise, it wouldn't need a more desired genre to enhance it either because, well, it's already good.

Please forgive me if none of that made any sense.

Now, on with the review. I, like most guys, am not incredibly fond of the romance genre (as in, full-on romance; the story is about nothing else but romance). Say Anything..., however, (this is where all the above jargon comes in) is a film that is already unconditionally good, so genre becomes irrelevant. It really is quite an amazing film.

Meet Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack); a witty, charming but shy young man, fresh out of high school with no direction in life. He is completely smitten by Diane Court (Ione Skye), a ravishing, young academic achiever and fellow graduate. Lloyd gathers the courage to ask her out, and so they become, as Lloyd calls it, "friends, with potential", and not long after that, they inevitably fall in love. Things get complicated, however, when Diane's loving but overprotective father (John Mahoney) gets hassled by the IRS on fraud accusations, and adversity doesn't stop Lloyd from aiming to achieve his one and only goal in life: to be with Diane. Sound a tad clichéd? Trust me, it ain't.

Lloyd Dobler ranks at #72 in Premiere's 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time, and there's a damn good reason why: because he is just so damn loveable. I mean, the film's tagline is: To know Lloyd Dobler is to love him. Diane Court is about to know Lloyd Dobler. I think that totally stresses the sort of character he is; I defy anyone who watches this film and is not totally enamored by Lloyd Dobler.

Say Anything... was one of the last films of the legendary 80s teen era; the era when John Hughes ruled the teen genre, with hits like The Breakfast Club (1985) and Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986). However, this wasn't a John Hughes film, despite it being very John-Hughes-ish; no, it was a Cameron Crowe film, and definitely his best film at that. No, I don't care what you think, but Almost Famous (2000) was incredibly mediocre compared to this gem.

There is a long list of reasons why this film is so great. Its script is extremely sharp, engaging and funny, à la The Breakfast Club. The characters are all wonderfully developed, in a way which truly makes us care about them. Moments of intimacy and moments of heartbreak are both played out with incredibly veracious, tender emotion, not the least bit contrived or mawkish; the boom box scene being the defining moment for Lloyd's character. And the film is also infused with a great soundtrack, especially Peter Gabriel's In Your Eyes during both the "I think I'm happy" scene and the boom box scene.

And then of course, there's John Cusack. I don't think I can remember the last time Cusack actually disappointed me in a film. I think mino is quite succinct in stating that "Cusack's no Cu-suck", because in all honesty, he really isn't capable of sucking. High Fidelity (2000), Con Air (1997), Runaway Jury (2003), Being John Malkovich (1999), Grosse Pointe Blank (1997), Identity (2003) (to an extent)... I mean, let's face it, this man is living proof that some actors just can't suck. Anyway, Cusack's glowing presence in Say Anything... just further proves my point that a) he is a bloody awesome actor and b) this is a bloody fantastic film.

Of course, I can't give all the credit to Cusack; the other actors are also fantastic. No-name actress, Ione Skye (let's face it, she's no Nicole Kidman) delivers a very pleasing performance as Diane, the other half of the two leads. And John "Marty Crane" Mahoney is also very solid as Diane's father. Several other characters we meet along the way include Lloyd's best friend Corey (Lili Taylor), a suicidal, rock 'n' roll songwriter obsessed with her ex-boyfriend, and Lloyd's sister Constance (Joan Cusack), a single mother of one and a character that's left rather undeveloped (pretty much like most of the other characters she plays when accompanying her brother).

I said this before and I'll say it again: I don't like the romance genre. But not only is this the best romance film I've ever seen, it is just a fantastic film per se.

em_fiction gives this movie 9 out of 10.
Review created on Wed 30 Jun 2004

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Number of reviews: 1
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Reader comments

  1. this is one of my most faverate movies in all time its breath taking and john cusacks character reminds me of a boy a ussed to know and i also feel for.

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from taylor on Wed 08 Mar 2006 10:26 #

  2. Excellent Movie

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Dex on Sun 11 Mar 2007 06:37 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 10.00 (2 ratings)

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