Welcome to the Then and Now Bloghop!
Featuring ‘Say Anything’
It took me way too long to settle on a movie for this first post of the “Then and Now” Bloghop! And not for lack of candidates. The object of this bloghop is to revisit a movie that was part of my life when I was younger and to see how it holds up now, a movie that impacted me, that was memorable. So I debated: choose a movie that was ‘good’ memorable? ‘Watched it a million times since then’ memorable? ‘Disturbed me to my core’ memorable? Yes, I could go on forever but I’ll spare you.
I’m going with ‘Say Anything’ for these reasons:
- Before re-watching it this week I hadn’t seen it in at least 20 years.
- It was the last high-school teen romance movie that I saw while still in high school.
- I tend to hold almost all 80’s stuff in a place of untouchable nostalgia. It’s probably good for me to take a good critical look at some of that 80’s stuff and be honest about whether it’s good or crap!
Here’s the IMDB blurb:
Released April 14, 1989
Starring John Cusack, Ione Skye, John Mahoney, Lili Taylor, Joan Cusack
“A noble underachiever and a beautiful valedictorian fall in love the summer before she goes off to college.”
Back in ’89 I saw this in the theater with a friend whose boyfriend at the time was away at college. During the most romantic parts of the movies she gazed at the screen with a big, goofy smile, her hands clasped in front of her, turning to me to say, “It’s just like me and Michael!” Eyeroll. The boyfriend-less me scoffed at her, but I really liked the movie. It was romantic, Mr. Cusack was sweet and funny, there were many laugh-out-loud scenes. I joined the throngs of people (I assume it was throngs) who fell in love with “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel – and also the throngs of people (I assume it was throngs) who were intrigued by relative newcomer Ione Skye. (“What else has she been in?”; “What does ‘Ione’ mean?” “And how do I pronounce Ione?”)
I re-watched ‘Say Anything’ this week with Haley. Her first comment was, “Was that guy [John Cusack] in every 80’s movie??” It sure seems that way, doesn’t it! I have always liked John Cusack, so it’s totally fine with me if it seems that way.
There was some strained acting (some of the interactions with Diane Court and her father), over-acting (by Lili Taylor, a bit by John…sorry John) and also some forced zaniness, like at the wild -yet responsible because they held everyone’s car keys- graduation party. Aside from that I focused on the relationships: between “basic” Lloyd and brilliant Diane, and between Diane and her father.
With Lloyd and Diane it’s that classic opposites-attract scenario that romantic movies make us desperately want to believe can really happen. Early on in the movie I commented to Haley that I wasn’t sure they actually had all that much chemistry. Further in though, I did find that the affection between them was really very sweet and tender. Lloyd’s earnest pursuit of tentative Diane was endearing. The learning to drive stick scene is a butterflies-in-stomach-feeling one.
With Diane and her father James the relationship was just as I remembered it: at the start admirable because her father always told her she could “say anything” to him. They interact more like two adults than father-daughter. And as Diane grows closer to Lloyd her father shows his true colors: manipulative and snobbish, pushing Diane to break things off with Lloyd and aim higher. Also he’s a liar, as his shady business embezzlement comes to light and Diane realizes her “say anything” dad was not willing to be honest with her.
There were many scenes that had stuck in my head from seeing it back then because they were hilarious, weird, unusual:
* The graduation party: still some funny moments, forced at times. Still very funny when Lloyd grabs the crazed party-goer and screams, “You must chill!”
* Corey’s obsession with ex-boyfriend Joe: rather sad now!
* Lloyd’s speech about his future to James and others at a dinner party (“I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything…”) Still funny and squirmingly uncomfortable.
* When heart-broken Lloyd hangs with the guys: not as hilarious as it was back then, but a chuckle or two. And a young Jeremy Piven wearing a hat!
* And the scene near the end, Lloyd’s final conversation with her father. Ugh, what a jerk. He says to Lloyd, “I can’t fathom how she could choose mediocrity the way she has with you!” I always remembered Lloyd’s line to her father, when he dismisses Lloyd as a “distraction” in Diane’s life. “I’m the distraction that’s going with her to England.” That’s still a great zinger!
*Finally, that classic image of Lloyd outside her window with the boombox raised over his head, “In Your Eyes” pouring out of it. Rewatching the film now that’s still a strong moment – though I wish Diane would have had a stronger reaction. I have seen this scene recreated/referenced in “Big Bang Theory” and in the movie “Megamind”, and I think there are many more as well! Enough that Haley recognized it and I got to share with her that this movie is where that all started.
Final verdict: it still holds up. I’ll watch it again and why? Not for the scenes that I had remembered as wacky or hilarious, but because the relationship between Diane and Lloyd is pretty darn sweet and romantic
This is the first of hopefully many editions of the “Then and Now” Bloghop! Please visit my co-hosts: The Armchair Squid, Nicki Elson’s Not-So-Deep Thoughts and Suze at Subliminal Coffee to check out their movie picks. And there are 21 other participants in this bloghop so check them out too by visiting The Armchair Squid’s page!