Say Anything review by The Grim Ringler
Lets admit something right at the beginning, Gen-Xers are perhaps the most nostalgic lot of loafers this side of Auntie Midge, and boy do they love them some old-school John Hughes movies. Sadly, this is not a John Hughes movie, its just a movie cut from similar cloth, though that may not be a bad thing. Me, I am not one that kneels at the altar of the Hughes. He has some good-ish movies, I will admit that freely, but he is far from the master of teen insight that he is taken by too many to be. No friends, hes good at what he does white-washing teen-angst and making it all suburban and fun but he is no great voice of a generation. For that you must look to Savage Steve Holland (HA!), but I tell ya what, a decent second-ish place might go to Cameron Crowe, though reluctantly. He almostgets it, though not quite. His world, like Hughes, is always full of plight but the plight never lasts, and is always scared back into the closet by Love, which, kids, I hate to break this to ya, aint so. But ah, its nice to dream.
Say Anything is the story of Lloyd, the sort of guy that everyone loves but they arent sure why. Hes in the middle, the living embodiment of the C+ student hes nice, hes cute, hes always there when ya need him, but he never really stands out from the rest of the pack. And when Lloyd falls for A+ student and future breaker of glass ceiling Diane, everyone knows his reach is over-reaching his grasp. She is a brain, but worse, shes a brain thats trapped in the body of a model, so why on earth would she want old Lloyd, who only seems to excel at being terribly sweet and at kickboxing (the sport of a future that has yet to come). Lloyd doesnt see any of this though, all he can see is Diane, and its his nave sweetness that wins him his date with her. That, and the fact that while everyone may lust after Diane, no one really has the guts to ask her out, imagining she must be better than them. And at first it seems as if everyone was right, that Lloyd is just too weird to really be able to live in Dianes world, but as she gets to know him, and sees how he is at the party they attend, she begins to see what no one else really bothers to that he really isntlike anyone, he isnt awed by her, or scared by her, or even scared by himself, hes just Lloyd, and thats all he wants to be. But while they do hit it off, its as friends, Diane keeping Lloyd at arms length so she can concentrate on getting some things done before she heads to Europe on scholarship, but again she falls victim to Lloyds honest charm all he wants is to be with her. And in the end, thats all she wants as well. Unfortunately Dianes father doesnt feel the same, seeing Lloyd as a distraction to his daughter and seemingly as a waste of her time, preferring his daughter stay innocent and virginal, like Rapunzel, until he decides she is ready to date. And when Dianes father all but tells her to dump Lloyd, well, how can Lloyd possibly compete with that? Just when we think its over though and Lloyd is to remain alone and heartbroken and Diane is to go back to her tower to pine in comes a really lame side-story involving Dianes father and an embezzling charge and voila, our pair are re-united, and it feels so blah!
This isnt a bad movie, not really. It is what it is, a teenage love story with a happy ending. Swell. But the hell of it is that to get to the happy ending Crowe, making his first film, flubs the story a bit and puts in this ridiculous story about how Dianes dad was ripping off oldsters at the old folks home he runs and now the feds are at his door. Ugh! I have seen the film twice now and each time it totally takes you out of the film. You lose Lloyd and Diane and this awkward misfit romance and instead have a messily handled look at the trust between a father and daughter eroding away. Which even THAT woulda worked in this film had it not been so badly done. I admire what Crowe was trying to do, really I do, but instead of just focusing on the couple, and either letting their love live or die because of choices they make, its the silly choices of Dianes father that really sets things up, and thats just lazy and takes away all the emotional impact the film had worked so hard to set up.
You cant help but like Cusack in this, hes sweet and just a damned good guy, and Skye too is really adorable as the girl everyones afraid to talk to because she seems so mature, but the rest of it isnt as strong. How many people can you remember that stayed away from a girl cause they thought she was too smart? Especially if she was hot. And how many people do you know that had parents get convicted of embezzling, even in the decadent eighties? Crowe tries to do too much with what shoulda been a more focused film. Lloyd suffers when he loses Diane, but not enough, and he goes back to her too easily. If a girl ditches you, in a car, has the audacity to give you a parting gift of a pen, AND ignores your phone calls, well, why on earth would you take her back? Be there for her as a shoulder when her dad is going to jail? Sure. But give her your heart again just like that? Ummm, no.
For fans of the movie you cant really ask for much more. The DVD features a commentary track with Crowe, Cusack, and Skye, has a heap of deleted and alternate scenes, a blah featurette, and a bunch of trailers. So good for Fox for ponying up for the fans.
All told, its an ok movie. It is far from great, but it is also far from bad. Its just above the middle. A sweet movie with a good heart but no guts. Which is why I have rarely been a fan of the eighties teen movies. Sure, some are good, a couple almost great, but they never commit to real emotions and real pain and loss, preferring to cash in on the romantic notions many of us still have and forgoing any growth the characters and indeed the viewers could have gotten from it all.
6 out of 10 Jackasses
IMDB Link: Say Anything
DVD Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
DVD Extras: commentary, deleted and extended scenes, fluffy featurette, trailers, a whole sleeveful of heart
Interested in writing for Jackass Critics? E-mail Matt