tek's rating: ½

Say Anything... (PG-13)
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This came out in 1989. I'm not sure when I first saw it, but probably it was the late 90s or early 00s. I'm sure I had it on VHS, but I have no idea what happened to the tape. Anyway, in 2015 I happened to see a used DVD of the movie in a thrift shop, and I meant to get it for awhile, but... it was probably a couple months after I first saw it before I finally bought it. For one thing, I wasn't sure I didn't already have it on DVD. (I mean, I could totally picture it standing in a shelf full of DVDs, a shelf I didn't have until some years after I'd first watched the movie. But my recollection was clearly in error. It was definitely only VHS that I had it on.) Anyway, I finally bought the DVD and re-watched the movie. Here's the thing, though... before I ever saw it (the first time), I was kind of aware of it being a really popular movie. And when I finally saw it, I was kind of underwhelmed. I liked it, but I didn't love it. And the second time I saw it (when I got it on DVD), I was hoping to like it more than I did the first time. And... maybe I did. I'm not sure. But I still didn't love it. I think it's a pretty decent movie, but it's hard for me to understand how it could be as popular as it is. Oh, also I should say I wasn't sure whether I'd put my review under "romantic" or something like "drama" or "serio-comedy" or "coming of age" or... I don't know. I finally chose "romantic," partly because that seems to be the general consensus among the movie's fans or whatever, and I do think it's kind of romantic. But I still feel like... there's more to it than that. The relationship between Diane and her father is at least as important as her relationship with Lloyd. (Probably the father-daughter relationship is way more important in the long run, though in terms of the movie's plot, it's a close call.)

Anyway... Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) is kind of a slacker, who isn't sure what he wants to do with his life. (He wants to be a kickboxer, though he doesn't seem very sure about his prospects.) The movie starts right before he graduates high school. And he wants to ask out the valedictorian, Diane Court (Ione Skye), with whom he has nothing in common. (Aside from the fact that they're both kind of adorkable, each in their own way. And... I think the movie's title comes from the fact that Lloyd tends to ramble when he's nervous.) And he has two or three friends (all girls), the main one being Corey (Lili Taylor), who is upset about having been dumped by a guy named Joe. Oh, and Lloyd lives with his sister, Constance (played by Cusack's real sister, Joan), and her young son. Diane lives with her divorced father, Jim (John Mahoney, whom I mainly know from Frasier). They have a very close relationship. One would expect much of the movie's dramatic tension to come from Jim objecting to Diane having a relationship with Lloyd, and that aspect is there, but... for the most part, Jim actually seemed to me to be pretty mellow about that, compared to most overprotective dads in stories like this. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Um... anyway, Lloyd's friends advise against asking Diane out; she's supposedly out of his league not just because she's beautiful, but also a brain. Nevertheless, after graduation, Lloyd does call Diane (and leaves a message with her father, and she later calls him back), and she agrees to go with him to a party thrown by... some guy. (It's the kind of party I would absolutely hate.) And she ends up having a good time with him, though it seemed like they actually spent relatively little of their time at the party with each other. (Her "good time" was largely on account of this being the first time she'd ever spent any time socializing with anyone at all. Though undoubtedly it didn't hurt that everyone at the party, especially Corey, thought Lloyd was a great guy.) Well, Lloyd and Diane start seeing a lot of each other, after that. But Diane still wants to spend some time studying (she's won a fellowship to attend a university in England), and meanwhile she has a job at the nursing home her father runs. And before long, Jim learns that he's being investigated by the IRS. So there's a lot of drama about that, and Diane naturally wants to spend time with him. (I thought he was most likely innocent, but I won't say whether I turned out to be right or not.) Of course, the fact that Diane is going to be leaving the country at the end of the summer makes her time very valuable to herself, and Lloyd, and Jim, and it's understandable that it's hard for her to be sure how best to spend it. No matter who she chooses to spend time with, she's going to feel guilty about not being with the other one (or not being able to fully concentrate on the one she's with).

And um, I guess I don't know what else to say about the plot. But of course there is an iconic scene of Lloyd holding up a boombox outside Diane's window at one point, playing the Peter Gabriel song "In Your Eyes." (It's a scene that has been parodied in any number of other things... I mainly remember an episode of South Park, which was so wrong.) Although the song I most often associate with this movie is Freiheit's "Keeping the Dream Alive," just because I'd seen a music video of the song which I'm pretty sure included scenes from the movie (probably sometime before I ever saw the movie). It's on the soundtrack, though in the movie it's only briefly heard (and barely audible) in one scene; it's of absolutely no importance. Anyway... it's a good movie. I liked it. I liked the characters. I liked any number of little touches that I'm sure I won't remember. And I wish I could love the movie... but I can't.

Oh yeah also, I'm pretty sure "basic" didn't mean the same thing in 1989 that it does in 2015.


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