John Cusack holding a boombox outside his girlfriend’s bedroom window. It’s an iconic cinematic moment that, if you’re like me, are familiar with even if you haven’t watched 1989’s “Say Anything“. It’s been referenced and parodied so much, it’s about time I check out what the fuss is all about. Funny thing is watching that scene in context played out differently than what I expected. I’ll talk about that down below.
Say Anything reminds me a little bit of the more recent teen movie “The Spectacular Now“. The characters and their relationship feel instantly genuine. You see, Lloyd (John Cusack) doesn’t have big plans after high school. The only thing on his mind is getting a date with Diane (Ione Skye), the brainy girl who’s totally out of his league.
While Diane is the envy of other girls, her highly focused mind-set keeps her sheltered from many typical high school experiences. We can see how Lloyd and Diane influence each other in ways that they would have never experienced if they never met. Their romance is not overly sappy and the humor comes across naturally. And also like The Spectacular Now, the father figure plays a role in this coming of age story.
Without further ado, here are 10 random things I like about Say Anything. A heads up, some of these will contain spoilers. You may want to watch Say Anything first before reading further.
10. A High School Romance That’s Not Set In High School. Say Anything begins on Graduation Day. Diane’s valedictorian speech hits on the idea that the future is not only bright and hopeful, the kind of platitudes you’d expect, but that it’s scary. Throughout the film, Cameron Crowe’s script consistently lands on these truths that don’t get often get acknowledged enough in teen movies.
9. When Lloyd Met Diane. Got to hand it to Lloyd for photobombing his meet cute. Funnier still that Diane didn’t notice he was there. Later at a party, some guy asks Lloyd how he got a date with Diane and he simply replies, “I called her up”.
8. Cameron’s Camera Loves Diane. Cameron Crowe gets off on the right foot by casting the photogenic Ione Skye. Another thing that Crowe’s gets right in his directorial debut is always framing Ione Skye so that you can’t help but to notice her presence, whether she’s front and center, playfully in the background or curiously behind a door.
7. Daddy’s Little Girl. Diane has two important relationships, the one with Lloyd and the one with her father (John Mahoney). Mahoney plays the protective yet likeable father very well. The father daughter chemistry is sweet. Diane’s father is the pillar in her life which she’s coming to fear might be made out of sand.
6. About Last Night. Lloyd and Diane’s first time together is off-screen. But that doesn’t stop Diane from giving her dad the play by play on why she didn’t come home last night. Mahoney’s facial expressions as Diane tells the most awkward story any father of a teenage girl will ever hear is priceless.
5. The Break Up. In every boy meets girl movie, there’s a point when the girl breaks up with the boy. Usually this can feel contrived but Say Anything’s break up scene hits all the right notes: the heartache, the understated humor, the memorable dialogue. After the break up is when we get to see all the other sides to Lloyd. And who can forget Lloyd calling his sister from a pay phone in the pouring rain, crying “I gave her my heart, she gave me a pen.”
4. “Bitches, man”. Probably the funniest, most random line in the movie. At the Gas ‘n Sip, a heartbroken Lloyd gets advice on women from a bunch guys sitting round. Then the camera moves down to a pint-sized kid who drops this hilarious line like a don and scampers off.
3. The Boombox Serenade. So Lloyd’s grand romantic gesture to get the love of his life back doesn’t goes as planned. Sure, Diane hears the music coming from the boombox but she doesn’t bother to come to the window. She tosses and turns in her bed, presses her ear down into the pillow. It’s not that she doesn’t have feelings for Lloyd, there’s just a few obstacles in the way. And they say it only happens in the movies.
2. Pens & Airplanes. There are a couple of threads that weave in and out of the movie and gets paid off at the end. The pen that Diane leaves for her father is a nice call back and overcoming her fear of flying with Lloyd is a great way to wrap up the story.
1. Cusack, John not Joan but she’s good too. There is no Lloyd without John Cusack. There is no Say Anything without John Cusack, at least one that wouldn’t be half as good. A lot of acting from that era scream 80’s teen flick but Cusack’s performance feels as fresh, vital and authentic as anything. Enough said.
These are just some reasons why Say Anything is worth watching. Are there any other reasons you think should be added?