Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Say Anything... (1989)

The iconic scene in Say Anything... -- which features Lloyd Dobler, played by John Cusack, wearing a trench coat and standing outside the house of Diane Court (Ione Skye), raising a boom box in the air playing Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" while standing in front of his blue Chevy Malibu -- is not even all that conducive towards the film's plot.

The scene is also extremely antiquated; stereos have since been replaced by CD players, and then iPods, trench coats have been replaced by, well, anything but trench coats, and Chevrolet even ceased production of the Malibu in 1983, before bringing it back in 1997.

Alright, so maybe it's not conducive from a plot standpoint -- the scene doesn't even evoke a reaction from Diane, or at least one that we see. But it's the scene that resonates the most because it embodies the emotion that Say Anything... puts forth. The 1980s cult classic is about young love, and the desperation that comes with it, and the certainty of the love that one feels during a time of deepest uncertainty.

John Cusack, the pioneer of 1980s teenage/young adult romantic coming-of-age films, could not be more endearing as Lloyd Dobler. Perhaps he's not the most good-looking guy in the world, but he's tall, well-spoken, polite, funny and most importantly of all, sensitive.

Say Anything... is the third movie that Cameron Crowe wrote, but the first that he directed. Though he has gone on to make some outstanding films, one can make the argument that Say Anything... is his most memorable.

Set in Seattle, the film revolves around Lloyd, who, with his fellow classmates, just graduated from high school. Lloyd has his sights set on the Diane Court, the grade-A student who gives the graduation speech to her classmates as they prepare to embark on the next journey in their lives. Court sets the tone of the film, early, when she strays away from her prepared speech to let out her real feelings, "I have to be honest though, I have all the hope and ambition in the world, but when I think about the future, the truth is, I am really scared."

The iconic scene from Say Anything...
Every generation has their own movies that they relate to. They came out at the perfect time, when you were on the brink of adulthood, and somehow, they manage to capture your adolescent experience. As a member Generation Y, those films for me are Can't Hardly Wait, or American Pie. But for those who belong to Generation X, Say Anything... tops that list. Not one character in the film is sure of anything, except for Lloyd Dobler, who knows for sure that he loves Diane.

Lloyd first propositions Court through an endearing phone call, trying to convince her to go out with him. At first, she politely turns him down, but after a few romantic words, he makes her laugh, and she changes her mind. The two accompany one another to the big graduation house party (every movie has one), and the rest is history.

Diane is smart and pretty, but also has high values and is a "goody two-shoes," so to speak. She spends her time volunteering at a nursing home, and she regularly checks in with her father (John Mahoney), who she loves very much. Her parents divorced five years prior, and Diane chose to live with her father, and as a result, he became very protective of her. Diane idolizes her father, and that's why a stir is caused, when, midway through the film, the IRS comes knocking on his door, informing him that they will be conducting a criminal investigation on him for tax fraud. This antiquated notion throws Diane into a whirlwind, which conflicts with her growing relationship with Lloyd.

Though Diane has things pretty figured out -- she just won a fellowship to study in England for a year -- Lloyd doesn't. He has aspirations to be a kick boxer, which he labels as "a growing sport," and when asked what he plans to do for the summer, he answers, "to spend as much time as possible with Diane before she leaves."

Say Anything... doesn't attempt to provide answers, or solve any problems, but just tries to capture the uncertainty that comes with the transition from high school to "the real world" in a charming and committed way. But the real charm of the film stems from Crowe's script, where we get hilarious yet insightful lines like, "She's gone. She gave me a pen. I gave her my heart, she gave me a pen."

John Cusack and Ione Skye.
Along the way we meet other enjoyable characters, like Lloyd's friends Corey and D.C. (Lily Taylor and Amy Brooks, respectively), Corey's boneheaded ex (Loren Dean), and Lloyd's sister, played by his real sister, Joan Cusack.

Say Anything... puts a face to a generation of lost souls who did not know what their next move was. Though over 20 years old, and a bit outdated at times, the film still remains extremely relevant. And with the movie, John Cusack established himself as the representative of Generation X. When he speaks in the film, you could see his brain at work, searching for the right words to express his true emotion. Most of the time, he finds them, and other times, he just says anything that comes to him.

~Review by Ddubbs

Sponsored by criminal attorney Kenneth Mollins 

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