Say Anything (1989)
Say Anything... is a 1989 American teen romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by Cameron Crowe in his directorial debut. The film follows the romance between Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack), an average student, and Diane Court (Ione Skye), the class valedictorian, immediately after their graduation from high school. In 2002, Entertainment Weekly ranked Say Anything... as the greatest modern movie romance, and it was ranked number 11 on Entertainment Weekly's list of the 50 best high-school movies.
Near the end of their senior year of high school, noble underachiever Lloyd Dobler falls for valedictorian Diane Court and plans to ask her out, though they belong to different social groups. Lloyd lives with his sister Constance, a single mother, and has no plans for his future. Diane comes from a sheltered academic upbringing and lives with her doting divorced father Jim, who owns the retirement home where she works. She is due to take up a fellowship in Britain at the end of the summer.
Diane accompanies Lloyd to a party, surprising their classmates. During a dinner at the Court household, where Lloyd fails to impress Diane's family, Jim is informed that he is under investigation by the Internal Revenue Service. Diane takes Lloyd to meet the residents of the retirement home and he teaches her to drive the manual-transmission Ford Tempo her father gave her as a graduation present. Their relationship grows intimate and they have sex, to her father's concern. Lloyd's musician friend Corey, who has never gotten over her cheating ex-boyfriend, Joe, warns him to take care of Diane.
Jim urges Diane to break up with Lloyd, feeling he is not an appropriate match, and suggests she give Lloyd a pen as a parting gift. Diane tells Lloyd she wants to stop seeing him and concentrate on her studies, and tells him to take her pen. Devastated, Lloyd seeks advice from Corey, who tells him to "be a man". Jim's credit cards are declined when he tries to buy Diane a luggage set.
At dawn, Lloyd plays "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel, the song that was playing the first time they slept together, on a boombox under her open bedroom window. The next day, Diane meets with the IRS investigator, who explains that they have evidence suggesting Jim has been embezzling funds from his retirement-home residents. He advises her to accept the fellowship as matters with her father will worsen. After Diane discovers cash concealed at home, Jim tells her he stole the money to give her financial independence, justifying it by saying he provided better care to the victims of his embezzlement than their families did. Distraught, she reconciles with Lloyd at the gym where he trains.
Some time later, Jim is incarcerated. Lloyd visits him in a federal penitentiary and tells him that he will go with Diane to Britain; Jim reacts with anger. Lloyd gives him a letter from Diane saying she cannot forgive him, but she arrives to say goodbye and they embrace. She gives him a pen, asking him to write to her in Britain. Lloyd escorts Diane, who is afraid of flying, on her flight.
- John Cusack as Lloyd Dobler
- Ione Skye as Diane Court
- John Mahoney as Jim Court
- Lili Taylor as Corey Flood
- Polly Platt as Mrs. Flood
- Bebe Neuwirth as Mrs. Evans
- Amy Brooks as D.C.
- Loren Dean as Joe
- Pamela Adlon as Rebecca
- Chynna Phillips as Mimi
- Jeremy Piven as Mark
- Eric Stoltz as Vahlere
- Jason Gould as Mike Cameron
- Philip Baker Hall as IRS Boss
- Joanna Frank as Mrs. Kerwin
Allmusic wrote that the soundtrack, like the film, is "much smarter than the standard teen fare of the era." The soundtrack consists of these songs:
|1.||"All for Love"||Nancy Wilson||4:37|
|2.||"Cult of Personality"||Living Colour||5:07|
|3.||"One Big Rush"||Joe Satriani||3:25|
|4.||"You Want It"||Cheap Trick||3:43|
|5.||"Taste the Pain"||Red Hot Chili Peppers||5:04|
|6.||"In Your Eyes"||Peter Gabriel||5:23|
|8.||"Skankin' to the Beat"||Fishbone||2:49|
|9.||"Within Your Reach"||The Replacements||4:26|
|10.||"Keeping the Dream Alive"||Freiheit||4:14|
|11.||"Lloyd Dobler Rap"||John Cusack||0:33|
Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert called Say Anything... "one of the best films of the year—a film that is really about something, that cares deeply about the issues it contains—and yet it also works wonderfully as a funny, warmhearted romantic comedy." He later included it in his 2002 Great Movie list, writing, "Say Anything exists entirely in a real world, is not a fantasy or a pious parable, has characters who we sort of recognize, and is directed with care for the human feelings involved."
The film also had detractors. Variety called it a "half-baked love story, full of good intentions but uneven in the telling." But, the review also said the film's "ppealing tale of an undirected army brat proving himself worthy of the most exceptional girl in high school elicits a few laughs, plenty of smiles and some genuine feeling." In a mixed review, Caryn James of The New York Times wrote:
resembles a first-rate production of a children's story. Its sense of parents and the summer after high school is myopic, presented totally from the teen-agers' point of view. Yet its melodrama—Will Dad go to prison? Will Diane go to England?—distorts that perspective, so the film doesn't have much to offer an actual adult, not even a sense of what it's truly like to be just out of high school these days. The film is all charming performances and grace notes, but there are plenty of worse things to be.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 98% based on 46 reviews, with an average rating of 8.00/10. The website's consensus reads, "One of the definitive Generation X movies, Say Anything is equally funny and heartfelt—and it established John Cusack as an icon for left-of-center types everywhere." On Metacritic the film has a score of 85% based on reviews from 18 critics, indicating "Universal acclaim". Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade B+ on scale of A to F.
The film features one of the most culturally recognizable scenes in American movie history, in which John Cusack holds a boombox above his head outside Diane's bedroom window to let her know that he has not given up on her. Crowe and producer James L. Brooks believed the scene could become a hallmark of the movie, though Crowe found it difficult to film because Cusack felt it was "too passive". The scene was first scored with Fishbone's "Question of Life", but after viewing the scene, Crowe opted to replace it with Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" to better fit the mood that he wished to convey. Gabriel initially turned down Crowe because he confused the film with another film in production at the time, a John Belushi biography called Wired.
"That scene is like Romeo under the trellis," said Crowe reminiscing about the iconic scene. "But I have this feeling when I watch it that it's filled with double emotion – both with the story and the actors, whose own trepidation bleeds in."
A television series based on the movie was planned by NBC and 20th Century Fox, but producers Aaron Kaplan and Justin Adler did not know that Crowe had not approved of the project. When they found out his views, the show was dropped.