Thursday, August 17, 2006
If you start out depressed, everything is a pleasant surprise.
On Vero's blog (have I mentioned how fantastic her new site looks? Well, it's worth mentioning again), she mentions a conversation at Caro's barbeque in which the title of "best girl movie of all time" was given to Dirty Dancing. Now, as someone who, in grade eight, was tickled pink to be the principal dancer in a number choreographed to "I had the time of my life", I understand the film's appeal. Excessive high-kicks notwithstanding, I thought that the film that breaks the barriers of religion and class through dance, bad dialogue, and Swayze was the coolest thing ever. And then I saw Say Anything.
Instead of making an argument for Say Anything as the "best girl movie of all time" (and by "girl" I mean the same angsty, boy-crazy girl audience for Dirty Dancing), my question is how could you argue that it's not? First, who is better than John Cusack. Of all the actors in the past 20 years, has there been a male lead as consistently well loved as Mr. Cusack? From The Sure Thing to High Fidelity, the man with the narrow face, small mouth, and pouffy hair seems to have maintained a level of adoration amongst female fans that is really quite astounding. Or, given the fact that the role of Lloyd Dobler presents itself as the ultimate boyfriend for heterosexually inclined girls all over the place, any role since 1989's Say Anything has essentially been an opportunity to imagine Lloyd on the screen again. Maybe it's just me.
For those who read Catcher in the Rye and fell in love with Holden, Lloyd provides an excellent substitution--hold the insanity.
Even the silly tag line on the box declares the truth: "To know Lloyd Dobler is to love him. Diane Court's about to get to know Lloyd Dobler." Sure, it's a simple movie: boy loves girl from afar, courageously asks girl out, girl likes boy, girl's dad wants girl to focus on school, girl breaks up with boy, and boy gets her back in the end. But it's got Lloyd Dobler.
A friend asks Lloyd how it was possible to get a date with Diane Court, the picture-perfect valedictorian and the response is simply "I'm Lloyd Dobler." Indeed. Of course Lloyd Dobler would get the girl. And the girl is played with with such non-committal grace by Ione Skye that it is possible for any teenage girl (or teenage girl at heart) to simpy imagine themselves in her position. Especially when that position involves a boy wearing a Clash t-shirt standing outside your window blasting Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes." But, though that is the obvious climax of the film, Say Anything also presents itself with some of the best and smartest writing in teen-flick history.
When Lloyd answers Diane's father's question about future career plans, his answer (nervously spouted, because, of course, Lloyd has "that nervous talking thing") is as follows: "A career? I've thought about this quite a bit sir and I would have to say considering what's waiting out there for me, I don't want to sell anything, buy anything or process anything as a career. I dont want to sell anything bought or processed or buy anything sold or processed or repair anything sold, bought or processed as a career. I dont want to do that. My father's in the army. He wants me to join, but I can't work for that corporation, so what I've been doing lately is kick-boxing, which is a new sport...as far as career longevity, I dont really know. I cant figure it all out tonight, sir, so I'm just gonna hang with your daughter." Classic.
Lloyd's pitch-perfect awkwardness matches the brilliance of the film's small details--from the fact that the kids, adding a touch of realism, actually have to yell at each other to be overheard at a party (why to movie-makers think that these teeny details aren't important?), to Lili Taylor's immortal performance of "Joe Lies", to the use of The Replacements' "Within your reach" as the final song--everything about the film just works.
If, as Lloyd postulates, "the world is full of food and sex and spectacle and we're all just hurling towards an apocalypse", watching Say Anything makes it a little bit better--as cheesy as that may sound.