Movie Project #3: Say Anything… [1989]

50 Movies Project #4: Contemporary Edition

The 50 Movies Project is an annual tradition at The Warning Sign. Every year, I select 50 movies that I feel I must see in order to continue my progression as a film lover. This year I’m focusing on contemporary films (1980 to present day) that I somehow haven’t gotten around to seeing yet.

Say Anything... [1989]

Say Anything… [1989]
Director: Cameron Crowe
Writer: Cameron Crowe
Country: USA
Genre: Comedy/Drama/Romance
Starring: John Cusack, Ione Skye, John Mahoney, Lili Taylor
Running Time: 100 minutes

Is there a more iconic image of 1980s teenage romance than a young John Cusack standing outside of his ex-girlfriend’s window while holding a boombox over his head? Going into Say Anything…, that scene was pretty much all I knew about the film. It was a bit of a surprise then that this scene was so short. I sat there waiting for this magical moment, and then… she didn’t even look out the window! That’s cold, man. Cold.

John Cusack is Lloyd Dobler, a recent high school grad who is all about punk rock and kickboxing. On graduation day, he gets a wild idea: he decides to ask out Diane Court (Iona Skye), the smartest girl in school. His friends, a group of girls including Corey Flood (Lili Taylor), scoff at his idea, but he’s a man on a mission. He works up the courage to make a phone call and gets her dad, James (John Mahoney), instead. They have an awkward conversation (it ends with Lloyd saying “Good afternoon” in response to the dad’s “Good luck”), but it proves to be fruitful as she calls him back the next day. Much to Lloyd’s (and everyone else’s) surprise, she accepts his invitation to a party later that night.

Say Anything... [1989]

The two of them hit it off immediately and fall into a heated romance. However, there are two obstacles in the way of their relationship: 1) her overprotective father, and 2) Diane is moving to England after the summer. Her father means well — he has even taken certain illegal risks to make sure she can be as successful as possible — but he immediately looks down at the “basic” Lloyd. It’s a matter of two completely different social classes coming together due to an undeniable connection, but it’s a relationship that is difficult to sustain.

What impressed me about this conventional tale is that Lloyd is genuinely a great guy. Sure, he may not be sure what he wants to do with his life, but he knows how to treat a girl. Diane realizes this, too, but it’s her that has to do some growing here. It’s rare that a guy in romantic comedies comes across so well, so it’s refreshing to see things from this perspective.

Say Anything… [1989]

For this being a Cameron Crowe film, I was a little surprised to see music take a bit of a backseat here. There’s the seminal boombox scene in which Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” is the main focus, but other than that, the soundtrack is rather subtle. This is not a fault at all, just a bit unexpected.

There is a bit of melodrama near the end that feels caked on, but for the most part, Say Anything… hits all the right notes. It also certainly says something that such a small scene in the film has made an incredible lasting impression over the years.


18 thoughts on “Movie Project #3: Say Anything… [1989]

  1. Dan Heaton says:

    Eric, I’m glad you were able to catch up with Say Anything and put context to the famous scene. I also really like the first party they attend, Lloyd’s friends (especially Lili Taylor), “Joe Lies”, Lloyd’s speech at the dinner table, random appearances from Eric Stoltz and Jeremy Piven, and of course the famous scene. It also really holds up well today, which isn’t easy.

    • Eric @ The Warning Sign says:

      I think that first party was critical in establishing Lloyd’s character. He is a better man than I simply for being the designated “key holder” for the entire party. I know I would have tried to pass that on to someone else. 😀 There were quite a few great moments in the film, and I got a kick out of seeing such a young Jeremy Piven and his whole two lines of dialogue.

  2. Sarca says:

    I love this movie, and you detailed it so well. I agree with your assessment too that Diane needs to mature, especially when Lloyd says, ” I gave her my heart and she gave me a pen.” Great post!

  3. ruth says:

    I have the dvd sitting at home (part of a 3-movie package) but haven’t got around to it. Glad you like it Eric, I just might have to finally pop the dvd in and watch this one 😀

  4. Dan says:

    Surely one of the best 1980s coming-of-age teen flicks. A brilliant film. Love that poster/scene where Cusack holds the ghetto blaster beneath Ione Skye’s window.

  5. Chris says:

    Glad you finally got to see Say Anything! Is remembered for famous boombox scene, yet as you point out really is more than just that. I agree the characters are likeable. Very well-written, funny, and the performances are spot on.
    Interestingly John Cusack was quite old when he did this, kind of like MJ Fox in Back to The Future 3 🙂

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