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The UnPopular Opinion: Say Anything

02.12.2015

THE UNPOPULAR OPINION is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATHED. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Enjoy!

****SOME SPOILERS ENSUE****

With Valentine's Day approaching this weekend, chances are you are going to end up watching at least one romantic movie. Whether you are just generally someone who likes movies with a love story or your significant other wants to get into the romantic mood, there are a ton of choices out there for movies with great love stories. If you asked a bunch of people for their favorite romantic movie, the odds are that at least a handful would name Cameron Crowe's 1989 hit SAY ANYTHING.

In the last two and a half decades, SAY ANYTHING has remained a consistent favorite of Generation Xers and teenagers who have discovered the films of John Hughes and are looking for similar movies. But, unlike John Hughes slice of life comedies about high school, SAY ANYTHING is a dark and dreary drama with some humorous moments about that twilight phase between graduation and college. Sure, we all instantly recognize the image of John Cusack holding a boombox over his head but beyond that, SAY ANYTHING is forgettable, drab, and just not as good as everyone proclaims it to be.

Now that, my dear, is how you perform an Upper Decker.

First and foremost, SAY ANYTHING is boring. I don't mean that it was edited poorly or the plot is not intriguing. This movie is boring in every sense of the word. It is visually static and full of one-dimensional characters striving to be intriguing. The most entertaining aspect of the film is everyone we see for only a few scenes like Lily Taylor, Eric Stoltz and Joan Cusack. These are the stories that seem more engaging than anything between John Cusack's Lloyd Dobler and Ione Skye's Diane Court. These two main characters have almost no chemistry and on their own are nowhere near the level of interesting that would make them potential love interests even in real life.

Let's take John Cusack as Lloyd. Cameron Crowe's idea of making this mediocre student and wannabe professional kickboxer capable of wooing the incredibly intelligent and popular Diane Court is the stuff of romantic comedy gold. But, Cusack instead portrays Lloyd as something of a stalker and obsessive when it comes to Diane. Rather than make him the kind of character you relate to, you are left wondering why in the hell he is still interested in her once he gets to know her and realizes they have nothing in common. The film forces you along to think there is progress in the relationship between these two, but it must all be occurring off screen because what we see in this film is two people who are not right for each other.

I gave her my heart and she gave me a restraining order.

Ione Skye is perfectly cast, from a visual standpoint, as the girl every guy in high school wanted to be in a relationship with. She is smart, beautiful, and...pretty? I still cannot find any redeeming characteristics about Diane Court that make her worth all of the effort Lloyd puts in to persuade her for a date. In fact, it almost seems like Diane is slumming it to see how stupid people initiate mating rituals rather than a legitimate interest in who Lloyd is. Diane's relationship with her widowed father also takes up an unnecessary amount of the film's plot.

John Mahoney is great as Diane's father Jim but his subplot about embezzling money from the retirement home he runs is a secondary or tertiary plot at best. Cameron Crowe spends almost as much time focused on the IRS investigation into Jim as he does with Diane and Lloyd. Yeah, I get the fact that Jim doesn't like his daughter dating someone like him, an underachiever with delusions of grandeur, but this is a thin rationale for how the story develops. Through the end of the film, we are left with Diane's shitty dad as the sole motivation for she and Lloyd to stay together. Basically, SAY ANYTHING is telling us that all you need to escape a deadbeat piece of shit guy is to find a slightly less shitty deadbeat to take his place.

The FRASIER prequel we always wanted.

There has been growth over Cameron Crowe's career as a filmmaker, but SAY ANYTHING feels like exactly what it is: the debut film from a rookie director.  The soundtrack, always Crowe's strongest aspect of his films, is great here and one of the lone highlights of an otherwise uneven film.  The only story worth the time here is the relationship between Diane and her father.  The Lloyd/Diane romance feels poorly conceived and marginally executed.  I can see why people relate to the movie but I cannot fathom how anyone could relate to the characters.  If you were to mute the film and blast the soundtrack, SAY ANYTHING works a lot better than if you listen to the movie itself.  While everyone was up in arms about a rumored television series adaptation of the movie, I almost feel like it could have been a better take on the material than this overhyped movie.

Oh, and if you have any suggestions for The UnPopular Opinion I’m always happy to hear them. You can send along an email to alexmaidy@joblo.com, spell it out below, slap it up on my wall in Movie Fan Central, or send me a private message via Movie Fan Central. Provide me with as many movie suggestions as you like, with any reasoning you'd care to share, and if I agree then you may one day see it featured in this very column!
Source: JoBlo.com

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