One of the benefits of writing reviews of media that’s older is that, in many cases, everything that could possibly be said about the particular film, television show, video game, or album, has already been said. It’s not that I’m trying to rehash old territory, or parrot someone else’s words (although I’m sure that happens), it’s more that, because of the level of familiarity, I can provide my perspective, and know that someone else has probably hit on something close already.
Of course, every once in a while, I find something that I firmly expect that everyone is familiar with, only to find out that, somehow, HawtWife has missed out on it completely. That’s the case with this week’s review, as she finally watched the movie in question earlier this week, so let’s get to it.
Say Anything (1989)
Seriously, what’s left to be said about Say Anything? It’s got the iconic boombox scene. John Cusack as one of the most recognizable 80’s romantic comedy leads (especially for the “high school love” genre). The subplots, ranging from Joan Cusack’s troubles as a single mother who’s also responsible for her man-child brother, to Frasier Crane’s dad before he moved to Seattle and abandoned his life as a crooked nursing home manager. The strong script, delivered well by the cast. Lili Taylor, as a sort of proto-Ani Difranco (at least, during her angry phase).
For anyone that hasn’t seen it (which, apparently, up until this week included HawtWife), Say Anything is the story of Lloyd Dobbler (John Cusask), trying to woo over his lady love, Diane Court (Ione Skye). Now, things certainly aren’t going to be easy. After all, Diane is, by high school standards at least, the perfect woman. She’s attractive, comes from affluence, and is clearly the smartest person in her class. In fact, she’s supposed to be heading overseas for college soon, so Lloyd’s only got a short amount of time to prove himself to her. No small feat for a guy who seems to be kind of meandering through life, with a firm belief that his future is going to be somehow tied to kickboxing (which kind of makes him a more charming Jean-Claude Van Damme). Of course, this is an 80’s rom-com, so Diane gives Lloyd a shot, the two fall in love, she freaks out and breaks it off, and he has to try to win her back. All the while, her father (John Mahoney) is being pursued by the IRS for questionable income related to how he runs his nursing home.
The film may be portraying a story that’s been captured hundreds of times before, and has definitely been brought back hundreds of times since, but it’s the presentation of Say Anything that not only helps it stand out from the pack, but has helped to make it one of the most influential pieces of the genre. There are plenty of moments that have been repeated over and over again, with the boombox scene clearly being a stand-out, but it’s the quieter scenes that truly stand out. The characters are grounded in their reality, which, while it might not be a reality many people share, is created so powerfully that it’s hard to not identify with it. Whether you find yourself most closely aligned with Lloyd’s quest for love, Corey’s desire to get over an ex while still clinging to his memory, or even Mark’s overly macho posing, there’s someone in the film to connect with.
While, yes, there are moments in the film that are dated (for example, the boombox scene just doesn’t work the same with modern technology, partially because nobody wants to see someone holding up an iPod with some speakers attached), but, overall, the film still holds up decades after its initial release. Say Anything does say a lot over the course of its running time, and most of that is about the human condition. While it is presented as a high school love story, it works just as a story about the human condition. There’s love, loss, a desire to do whatever necessary to ensure the safety and security of those we care about, and the potential pitfalls along the way to our goals.
If you haven’t seen Say Anything yet, I strongly recommend giving it a shot. And, if you have seen it, maybe it’s time to revisit it. It’s worth taking the temporal voyage.