Saturday, November 20, 2021

Say Anything

Movie Name:
Say Anything
Year of Release: 1989
Director: Cameron Crowe
Starring: John Cusack, Ione Skye, John Mahoney, Joan Cusack, Loren Dean, Lili Taylor, Amy Brooks, Pamela Adlon, Jason Gould, Polly Platt, Jeremy Piven, Lois Chiles, Philip Baker Hall, Richard Portnow, Bebe Neuwirth, Kim Walker, Chynna Phillips, Lisanne Falk, Gregory Sporleder
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis and Review:
Writer/Director Cameron Crowe originally made a name for himself as a screenwriter with Amy Heckerling's "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" (which was also based on his book), which he followed with the somewhat cult film "The Wild Life", from producer/director Art Linson. "Say Anything" is actually his directorial debut, and follows the misadventures of Lloyd Dobler, a sweet high school senior who falls in love the class valedictorian, the beautiful Diane Court. Lloyd lives his sister Constance, and her young son (Constance is a single mother), since their parents are currently in England. Lloyd asks Diane to an after graduation party, and much to everyone's surprise, she accepts. Diane in the meantime has gotten a fellowship in Britain to continue her studies, but much to her surprise, she finds out her dad is being investigated by the IRS on suspicions of embezzling money from his clients (retirement home residents). As Diane and Lloyd's relationship blossoms, their ambitions, families and even friends, question what future do they have together.
One of the most surprising aspects of "Say Anything" is how it marries some aspects of the typical teen comedy, something that John Hughes mined so well in his films, with aspects which in the 90s would become staple of many relationship driven films, namely, how different backgrounds, families, friends and all the pressure coming from these groups, can strain a romantic relationship. Cameron Crowe smartly peppers the narrative with colorful characters who surround the leads, giving John Cusack's Lloyd good support in the shape of Lili Taylor's Corey and Amy Brooks' DC, whereas Diane has the support and at times also a candid and yet troublesome relationship with her father, Jim. It's a film that while not necessarily the most original one, it crafts a narrative with characters that are more than a cliche. Lloyd's and Diane's ambitions go far beyond finishing this phase of their lives and attending parties. They're on their path of becoming adults and figuring out their life's journey. While some of the aspects of the narrative feel somewhat forced (the IRS investigation) and the supporting characters lack some extra dimension (particularly Joan Cusack's character, who has immense potential), it's nonetheless a film that dares to say a rather conventional storyline, with heart, humor and some depth. John Cusack leads the film with charisma and charm, with great support from John Mahoney and Lili Taylor. The cinematography from Lazlo Kovacs is wonderful, as is the score from Anne Dudley (from the band Art of Noise) and Richard Gibbs (from the band Oingo Boingo). Worth watching.