We’ve all seen it…the iconic image of a young John Cusack holding a boombox above his head. This image has burned in the collective consciousness of anyone over 17. So annoyed by this image in my head I decided to finally watch the film from it sprung – Say Anything.
John Cusack plays the completely directionless Lloyd Dobler who at 19, has returned to America after spending the last couple semesters over seas. He kickboxes and has a fetish for trench coats. He lives with his sister (played by his real sister Joan Cusack) and his nephew. His home life contrasts sharply with his love interest Diane Court, played by Ione Skye, whose Father and her future is her world. Diane is an over-acheiver who has everything going for her – she’s the class valedictorian, a dedicated worker at her Father’s senior home, and to top it all off is drop-dead gorgeous. Her parents are divorced (Apparently she had to choose between the two of them in court at 13. No wonder she’s so responsible.), and her Father offers her the love and stability that her Mother could not. Besides that Diane is so wrapped up in her future, pleasing her Father, she has in many ways neglected simply being a teenager.
Diane’s father played by John Mahoney (also seen in the 1987 film Moonstruck) is everything a parent should be – sensitive, supportive, and proud. However as the film progresses we see his fragile facade crumble, as it is revealed he is not so righteous a man. The IRS pursues Diane’s father on suspicion that he has embezzled money out of the senior’s at his home.
Through a stalkerish phone call, mildly charming rambling, and a few chivalrous gestures, Lloyd manages to snag a date with Diane at a graduation party. Despite his over-protectiveness Diane’s father, James allows her to go out on a date with determined Lloyd. They attend their graduation party together where Lloyd serves as the “key-master” looking out for young drunkards, most notably a young Jeremy Piven, who repeatedly tackles Lloyd out of sheer joy.
Through the party we also come to understand the source of Corey Flood’s pain, and why she bitterly trashes her ex-boyfriend Joe, who took her virginity then left her for another girl. She wines about him throughout the entire film. This entire pointless vignette did nothing to serve the direction of the film, and was forgotten as soon as it over. They film honestly could have done without 2/3 of Lloyd’s friends too…Corey’s pointless subplot was enough to make me reconsider watching Say Anything altogether.
From here the movie progresses with astounding predictability. Montages of Diane and Lloyd necking underneath trees ensue, bringing us to the moment that they consummate their two-month-long relationship in a car by the beach. Diane has such a close relationship with her father that she actually tells him the truth of her whereabouts the night before. I found the most interesting aspect of this movie not to be Lloyd and Diane’s predictable boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-gets-girl-back-plot, but John Mahoney’s crumbling from a respected member of his community and proud father. To the grey-haired, cigarette-smoking, embittered man we meet at the end of movie. HE ALMOST CRIES IN A BATHTUB FOR PETE’S SAKE. He gave the most emotionally-solid performance in an otherwise flimsy film, with a few endearing moments. (Although I will say I enjoyed the film’s iconic boombox scene in which John plays the song that he and Diane first made love to…Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes”.)
All-in-all, if you’re up for big hair, some memorable lines rambled by John Cusack, this scene in particular, and buckets of teen angst, I encourage you to tune in to Say Anything. If you’re not in the mood for adult-decisions made by inexperienced teens, then opt for the more-adult Moonstruck.