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Say Anything

I think we all know the iconic image from this movie: John Cusack in a tan trenchcoat, standing in front of his car, outside his girlfriend's house, holding a boombox over his head, blasting Peter Gabriel. And while it's not officially a brat pack film, it's one that those not of that era may not be too familiar with otherwise.

It's mostly your typical teen romance. High school underachiever falls in love with the valerdictorian, and eventually finds the courage to ask her out after graduation. The two spend the summer together before she goes abroad. Meanwhile, this new relationship has her at odds with her father, who is also being investigated by the IRS. She's torn between being there for her dad or exploring this new but likely temporary relationship. Sounds pretty sappy, yeah?

And yeah, it is. Very sappy. But you know what sells it? John Cusack. He is so sweet and (I know I overuse this adjective) charismatic, that you root for this underdog and fall in love with him too. Also, the script by writer/director Cameron Crowe (Almost Famous, Jerry Maguire, you know, that Cameron Crowe) is pretty solid. It does have some pretty memorable lines ("I gave her my heart, and she gave me a pen" being my favorite).

It's not so silly as other 80s teen flicks, but it is a lot more introspective. That's something Crowe has always been pretty great at: giving us male characters that aren't afraid of experiencing emotional rollercoasters on screen. I know I often champion films with strong female protagonists, but it's worth pointing out that the men folk can be underwritten too, even if they're generally more prominent. Crowe doesn't underwrite them. And that's why we (or I at least) love his characters and his films.
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