Lloyd Dobler goes on a date with the valedictorian of his high school even when his friends tell him it’s a bad idea. His attitude is what’s the worst that could happen? He finds out the answer to that question but refuses to let her go in Cameron Crowe’s directorial debut.
Cameron Crowe known best for Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous wrote and directed one of the best teenage love movies with Say Anything… starring John Cusack and Ione Skye. Cusack’s Dobler is given some beautiful monologues and visual images that are still regarded highly to this day. The film is set shortly after high school graduation and he is someone who doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life and doesn’t try to force himself into a box like the other graduates. When his school counselor asks why he hasn’t chosen to do something like his peer’s have, he shoots back, “How many of them really know what they want, though? I mean, a lot of them think they have to know, right? But inside they don’t really know, so… I don’t know, but I know that I don’t know.” That is Lloyd in a nutshell. Fast talking and almost veering into unlikeable until he does or says something that makes the viewer love him again.
Meanwhile, Skye’s Diane Court is a girl who everyone at school knows about but never actually knew until Dobler comes along to show her what she’s been missing, hiding behind those books. Cusack and Skye walk a fine line so well that it’s impossible not to root for this couple.
The only flaw in the plot comes when Diane Court’s father who seemed to be a good, yet protective father for most of the movie is suddenly involved in a financial scam. It seems like something plugged in because Crowe was told there must be a subplot to go along with the love story. It just seems out of place and terribly distracting.
This has been a difficult review because it is hard to describe Say Anything… without making it sound corny or ordinary. The difference is Cameron Crowe. Crowe penned great dialogue as well as characters portrayed by Cusack and Skye who are so lifelike, with imperfections yet firm likeability. It’s the kind of movie that you can’t help but fall in love with. Such command by everyone involved, such charm by the two leads, both of which make the film seem stable even when it shows flaws.
4½ out of 5 stars