Ahhhh the 1980s. The Golden Era of teen movies. And yes I believe this because I was coming of age in the mid eighties so of course this was the best crop of teen movies that were ever made! (It’s a fact. Look it up.)
On the heels of Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Pretty in Pink, John Hughes’ trifecta of awesomeness, comes Say Anything, the directorial debut of Cameron Crowe. To say that John Hughes wrote the script on teenage angst, unrequited love, and my-parents-just-don’t-understand, is not only accurate, it had to have been a little intimidating for this first time director. Luckily for all of us, Cameron Crowe did not let that deter him from directing and writing an original, standout film.
Say Anything begins on graduation day for high school senior Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack), a middle of the road kid, not too popular but definitely not a Loser, living in Seattle. He is hanging out with his two best friends, Corey (played brilliantly by the singular Lili Taylor) and D.C. (played by Amy Brooks) before graduation when he declares that he wants to ask out the prettiest and smartest girl in school, Diane Court( Ione Skye). His friends are quite skeptical, with Corey telling him, “you’re going to get hurt Lloyd,” to which he replies, “I want to get hurt!”
This for me was one of the best scenes because it set up the movie’s premise beautifully: this is a pure film, with pure intentions running throughout. The character of Lloyd was not a douchebag who turns good, or an angst ridden teen who hates his parents and finds salvation in the form of “gettin’ some”- Crowe wrote this character as pure as the driven snow- Lloyd is a good guy who just wants a shot at a girl he has been dreaming about for four years, feelings be damned. How many of us can say we are completely and totally honest about what we want? And then say it out loud? As an eighteen year old?!
For her part, Diane feels completely detached from her fellow seniors; she has been working her ass off for four years to be the best and do everything right, not only for herself but for her father, who has ridiculously high expectations for his daughter. Diane sees Lloyd as a chance to connect to these people who she feels know nothing about her. Her character is also Ivory Soap pure, not a bad bone in her body: she works at her Dad’s nursing home, doesn’t resent him in the slightest for putting so much pressure on her, and wears a white dress to a graduation party. And calls her dad from said party to tell him she’s fine and having a good time!!
Thus begins The Summer of Love for these two kids, and for me, where it could have gotten sappy and ridiculous, it was anything but. It hit me in the feels from beginning to end. Throw in a little teenage silliness, some tax evasion, a break up, some hilarious cameos from – at the time- little known actors (Eric Stoltz for one, as well as Jeremy Piven, one of Lloyd’s “Gurus at the Gas-N-Sip”, giving him advice after he and Diane break up-hilarious), and you have yourself a hit!
Watching this movie at 46 (shut it) was way different than watching it in my 20s and 30s for sure- I will go for the old geezer line and say they just don’t make teen movies like this anymore. When Diane and Lloyd have sex for the first time, all we see is a wool blanket and Lloyd shaking from head to toe from love and happiness, not the cold.
Cameron Crowe also gives us line after line of singular brilliance, from Lloyd’s monologue about his career plans (“I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career…”), to Corey’s advice to Lloyd (“The world is full of guys. Be a man. Don’t be a guy.”), to my favorite line that sums up the whole movie- when one of Lloyd’s friends asks him how he got Diane Court to go out with him (“But how come it worked? I mean, like, what are you?”) Lloyd says, “I’m Lloyd Dobler”, without a hint of arrogance or artifice. He was himself, he told her the truth, he opened up his whole heart, and she said yes. Don’t we all just need a little of that?
Oh and our spurned boyfriend holding up a boom box playing Peter Gabriel?!? YES PLEASE!