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Friday Film Review: Say Anything

Say Anything
Genre: Coming of Age Romance
Grade: B+

How did I miss this? Srsly, where was I? Dunno. I’ve heard about the “holding up the boom box” scene. I’ve seen it on so many “Gawd, these are the best films evah!” lists and heard from so many people that “you have to see this film, I mean it!” that I should have seen it before now. But it took doing these reviews and scanning Top Films lists for more film ideas to finally make me do it.

No one thinks Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) and Diane Court (Ione Skye) will ever last. In fact, everyone’s surprised they ever got together in the first place. Including them. The first time Lloyd asks Diane out, she says yes then has to check their recent senior high school yearbook to even know who it is she just agreed to go to a party with. But as their relationship progresses, they find something special. She feels totally comfortable with him and he starts to trust in himself because of her.

Then things start to go wrong. Her father (John Mahoney) is being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service and the time before she’s due to leave for a prestigious fellowship in England is ticking down. Diane feels with all this going on, that she doesn’t have time for a romantic relationship and reluctantly breaks with Lloyd. Which devastates him. But he keeps trying until he finally accepts it’s the end. Or is it?

Lloyd is every woman’s dream guy. Or he ought to be if she’s worth having. Diane tells her father that on their first date, Lloyd stopped her and steered her around some broken glass on the pavement so she wouldn’t hurt her bare feet. And it’s this moment that she thinks of every time someone asks her what she’s doing with a guy like Lloyd. Lloyd is considerate, he’s a gentleman, he looks after his friends and even drunk people he’s never met before when they’re stranded at the party with no way to get home.

No, he doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life but he’s honest about that instead of bullshitting some answer just to make the grownups feel better. And he loves Diane and loves being with her so much that after the first time they make love, he’s shaking. And then there’s the scene where he puts it all out there with music for everyone to know how he feels about her.

And I kept waiting for Diane to mess with him. To tell him that he’s not good enough for her brainiac “I have this fellowship” self. But she doesn’t and her reason for breaking with him, though it hurts him, is more what is going on in her life than anything she feels or doesn’t feel about him. And since she’s going through a lot with her beloved father accused of crimes and she’s about eighteen, I’ll cut her some slack. Which as I get older, I’m less and less willing to do so that says something to me about how good this movie is.

When her world caves in around her, it’s Lloyd she runs to. It’s Lloyd she needs and wants and God bless him, he’s there for her. He’s holding her hand on the plane, helping her over her fear of flying as they wait for the ding. Those of you who’ve seen the movie will know what I’m talking about and it’s an incentive for those of you who haven’t. Probably only three of you since I’m so behind on seeing this.

The secondary cast is outstanding. Mahoney plays the father who Diane feels comfortable saying anything to and who we’re not sure about until the end. Lili Taylor is one of Lloyd’s female friends who already realize what a gem he is. Eric Stoltz and Jeremy Piven, among others, are Lloyd’s guy friends who think he’s cool and offer guy advice. Cusack’s real sister Joan plays his sister here and Glenn Walker Harris, Jr is Lloyd’s nephew and fellow kickboxing enthusiast.

I think Cameron Crowe does an awesome job directing this and letting us see these two falling in love and just enjoying being with each other. As the plane takes off for England, I don’t see two totally different people heading off together who probably won’t last in the long run. I see two people full of hopes and dreams and belief in each other. And these lines nail it.

Diane: Nobody thinks it will work, do they?
Lloyd: No. You just described every great success story.

There’s a 20th Anniversary edition DVD due out in November which is supposed to have cool stuff – though from what I’ve seen, the original DVD has about all the same cool stuff already. Maybe they’ll work on the crappy subtitles…

Anyway, if you haven’t seen this – try it. If you have seen it, maybe you feel, as I do, that this is more than the usual 80s teen “angst filled” “nobody understands us” film. This is one that makes me happy even at my creaky middle aged age.


FTC discloser – I rented this from a movie rental service.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.


  1. Mandy M Roth
    Oct 16, 2009 @ 05:09:36

    Great movie!

    “Joe lies… when he cries”

    Its really hard to not to picture this character, singing one of her what 65 songs about Joe when you think of teen break up issues and how they are “so the end of the world”.

    Can’t believe its been twenty years. Wow.

  2. Karen Mahoney
    Oct 16, 2009 @ 06:19:08


    That is all. :)

  3. Jayne
    Oct 16, 2009 @ 06:25:29

    Yep, it is to love.

    And where have the past 20 years gone?!

  4. Kati
    Oct 16, 2009 @ 06:34:51

    I gave her my heart, and she gave me a pen.

    Don’t be a guy. The world is full of guys. Be a man.

    I love this movie. No, really, I love it.

    It’s one of those movies that I stop and watch every time it’s on. And each time, I fall for Lloyd Dobbler.

    I can’t believe it’s been 20 years. This is just one of my all time favorites. Every single part of it.

    What @Karen said. *love*

  5. Zoe Archer
    Oct 16, 2009 @ 06:53:20

    The fact that Lloyd steers Diane around the glass in the street is often cited as a small indicator of him being the perfect boyfriend.

    My husband always steers me away from glass in the street (and dog poop). Before I went out to dinner last night with a friend, he went down to our parking garage and cleaned the windows of my car because they were a little dirty and I don’t see well at night. He loves to eat olives, and I don’t, so he leaves them out of the dinners that he cooks for us every night. He willingly accompanies me to the assisted living care home when I go to see my 95-year-old grandmother, even though I tell him he doesn’t have to come, but he wants to be there for me.

    I married Lloyd Dobbler. I think I’m one of the luckiest women I know.

  6. Leslie
    Oct 16, 2009 @ 07:09:35

    I love this movie. I love John Cusack, even if he’s never had a bare chest scene in any movie he’s ever made…sigh…


  7. Lynn M
    Oct 16, 2009 @ 07:22:06

    I think I might be the only female alive who didn’t absolutely adore this movie. I do love John Cusack, and that scene with the boombox is iconic, for sure. And whenever I hear Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” this movie immediately comes to mind.

    But maybe it was Ione Skye because I never got that hit-in-the-gut feeling I normally get when I watch a love story that really resonates with me. I didn’t understand what was so special about her character that Lloyd saw in her. Sure, she was smart. But otherwise there was nothing memorable about her.

    Again, since it’s only me that seems to have escaped the wonder of this movie, I keep watching it whenever it’s on, trying to figure out if I’ve missed something. Like maybe I accidentally missed a key scene or something. But I’ve seen the movie from start to finish at least three times and still don’t understand the mass appeal.

    My favorite scene was when Lloyd was shaking after their first time – so very sweet. By far one of the best first time scenes ever.

  8. Rosemary
    Oct 16, 2009 @ 07:24:49

    Cusack=the thinking woman’s hero. And though I’m not of the generation that embraces this film (for me it’s Must Love Dogs) it’s given me an important motif as a writer: The Boom Box Moment. Every cool hero has a grand gesture.

  9. Bethanya
    Oct 16, 2009 @ 07:26:39

    Your review was MY review over the summer. I thought I was the last person in the US who hadn’t seen this, and one night visiting my sister, it was On Demand, so we watched. I kept waiting for an 80s cliche in every scene–but was so pleasantly surprised. Such a sweet film.

  10. Jordan
    Oct 16, 2009 @ 07:44:07

    I think I might be the only female alive who didn't absolutely adore this movie.

    I’m with you on this. I didn’t see this movie until I was in college and it had been so hyped up to me that when I finally saw it I didn’t get what all of the fuss was about. I was the same way when I finally saw The Godfather a few years ago.

  11. Jayne
    Oct 16, 2009 @ 07:48:04


    it had been so hyped up to me that when I finally saw it I didn't get what all of the fuss was about.

    Having tried my share of these, I can understand where you’re coming from.

  12. Jayne
    Oct 16, 2009 @ 07:49:50


    I kept waiting for an 80s cliche in every scene-but was so pleasantly surprised.

    Which is why I don’t like the “Brat Pack” movies of the mid 80s. I’ve never been able to sit through one of those.

  13. mdegraffen
    Oct 16, 2009 @ 07:50:46

    Cusack and Crowe. It gets no better than this.

  14. Bonnie Dee
    Oct 16, 2009 @ 08:27:59

    it's Lloyd she runs to. It's Lloyd she needs and wants and God bless him, he's there for her.

    Which leads to one of my favorite exchanges, when she goes to him at the gym and tells him she needs him.
    Lloyd: “Do you just need somebody or do you need me?” pause “I don’t even care.”

    And then the big kiss. Beautiful.

  15. Sarah Frantz
    Oct 16, 2009 @ 08:49:27

    I love this movie, yes, but it’s Must Love Dogs FTW for me. And Grosse Pointe Blank, but mainly Must Love Dogs.

  16. Rosemary
    Oct 16, 2009 @ 08:56:32

    Me too, Sarah!

  17. Vicki
    Oct 16, 2009 @ 09:46:10

    I love this movie, and I think this is where I fell in love with John Cusack. Most of his movies are must watches.

    In the movie itself, I think her father manipulated her into breaking up with him because he didn’t like that Lloyd was getting so close, with everything that was going on. I don’t think she would have broken up with him without the push from her father, sine he was willing to stand by her during everything.

  18. Marsha
    Oct 16, 2009 @ 10:15:32

    I don’t remember the shaking. Will have to watch again and check it out. Twenty years? I’m imagining them now with kids and a mortgage.

    I have my own Lloyd Dobler now. I was about 19 when the movie came out and it made a good impression on me – I watched and I learned.

  19. Randi
    Oct 16, 2009 @ 10:17:45

    Ooooo, I adore Say Anything AND John Cusak. Although, I have to admit, this movie was an HFN for me, not an HEA. Which is perfectly fine with me.

    Nobody’s mentioned how sweet it was how Lloyd looked out for Diane at the party. He never really abandoned her; he was always right around the corner making sure she was ok. How cute is that?

  20. Chicklet
    Oct 16, 2009 @ 11:10:50

    “I got a question. If you guys know so much about women, how come you’re here at like the Gas ‘n’ Sip on a Saturday night completely alone drinking beers with no women anywhere?”

    “By choice!”

    When I was a freshman in college (about a year after Say Anything was released), one of our friends asked my roommate and me who our dream date was. We said Lloyd Dobler. She responded, “Oh, I really like John Cusack, too.” “No, you don’t understand,” we said. “Lloyd Dobler.”

    Of course, it could be argued that because of Jake Ryan from Sixteen Candles and Lloyd Dobler, an entire demographic cohort of women had romantic ideals that were far outside reality. *g*

  21. LoriK
    Oct 16, 2009 @ 11:26:23

    I love this movie. I love John Cusack, even if he's never had a bare chest scene in any movie he's ever made…sigh…

    I also love this movie, and John Cusack in general. I don’t want to ruin anyone’s fantasy life, but the reason he’s never shirtless in movies is that he’s one of those guy’s who is really hairy and he’s apparently self-conscious about it.

  22. Maili
    Oct 16, 2009 @ 12:53:45

    I have always believed I saw this film, but I found out not long ago that I confused this film with another Cusack film, The Sure Thing (or Better Off Dead). So yeah, I haven’t seen this film yet! Whoo. That left quite a massive dent in my Film Nerd reputation. :D I’ll watch it this weekend, thank you.

    I loved Ione Skye’s other film, Gas, Food and Lodging. That’s probably because it was directed by criminally underrated director Allison Anders, who did awesome films: Grace of My Heart, My Crazy Life and Things Behind the Sun.

  23. Randi
    Oct 16, 2009 @ 13:12:07

    What Maili said. Gas, Food, Lodging is really really well done, and as Maili said, totally underrated. (well actually, she said the director was underrated, but the film is, as well). I recommend it. A lot.

    As for John Cusack, there’s a whole slew of movies I wasn’t particularly fond of (High Fidelity, America’s Sweethearts, Pushing Tin), but to whomever mentioned Grosse Pointe Blank- I say to thee: Hells YEAH!!!!

  24. Randi
    Oct 16, 2009 @ 13:14:28

    Sorry for the grammatical errors in my comment above. I was unable to make any edits. ;(

  25. Ami
    Oct 16, 2009 @ 17:41:47

    I remember watching this in highschool back in like 2005, and while I liked it, didn’t understand what made it so iconic that the boombox scene is parodied EVERYWHERE. Our creative writing teacher(who is a man) was making fun of the scene but at the same time admiring the impact that scene had on pop culture. Most of the class didn’t like it, pointing out, who the hell tells their dad they did it?. I guess I should watch it again, but I hated the girl. She was so… yeah, she didn’t deserve him.

  26. Virginia Kantra
    Oct 16, 2009 @ 19:08:28

    Put me on the short list of people who somehow never saw this movie.

    Thank you, Jayne!!!

    Based on your review, I rented it to watch with my (basic) husband tonight. We both loved it. Only one quibble…can anyone tell me where the title came from?

  27. Likari
    Oct 16, 2009 @ 20:12:06

    @Virginia Kantra: The title is from when Diane’s dad says “You can say anything to me”

    But she really can’t. He gets all uptight if she tells him how she really feels, which is why she breaks up with Lloyd — because she knows her dad doesn’t like that relationship.

    I love this movie too. The secondary characters are so great. When I was watching Mumford the first time, I kept thinking I know that guy from somewhere — then all of a sudden I and the friend I was watching it with both yelled at the same time, “It’s Joe!”

    So many great lines in this movie.

    You’re a distraction.

    I’m the distraction that’s going with her to England, sir

  28. Tae
    Oct 16, 2009 @ 21:17:29

    okay, I must be one of the three people who have never seen this movie.
    I don’t know why. There’s a bunch of 80’s films that I dislike, so I think that’s why I’ve been avoiding it, even though I love John Cusack.

  29. Jayne
    Oct 17, 2009 @ 05:45:56

    @Tae: Tae, I think that’s why I avoided watching it for so long – there are so many other 80s movies I tried and didn’t even finish.

  30. Jayne
    Oct 17, 2009 @ 05:48:16

    @Virginia Kantra: Oh great. I’m so glad you liked it. ::whew::

    I agree that Diane’s line to her is where the title comes from. The irony being she tells him everything, like what she and Lloyd did, but he keeps things from her.

  31. Jayne
    Oct 17, 2009 @ 05:52:04

    I would give Gas, Food, Lodging a try but I can’t stand Brooke Adams or Fairuza Balk. I mean really can’t stand either one.

  32. Virginia Kantra
    Oct 17, 2009 @ 08:58:59

    @ Likari: Thank you! Of course. I kept trying to make it fit the scene where they’re in the car and he’s trying to say the L word while she’s trying to break up with him.

    @ Jayne: I didn’t simply like it. I loved it! I’ve had Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” going through my head all day. Thanks again for the recommendation.

    I agree the secondary characters in this movie were fabulous. It’s always fun to see Jeremy Piven, no matter how small the role.

  33. Likari
    Oct 17, 2009 @ 11:42:23


    The irony being she tells him everything, like what she and Lloyd did, but he keeps things from her.

    I never got this, and you’re so right!

    @ Virginia — I like what you said about in the car when he’s trying to say I love you. I think you have something there. Makes me appreciate that scene on a whole new level. Good call!

  34. Virginia Kantra
    Oct 18, 2009 @ 10:48:48

    So last night, still up from seeing this movie, I gave Serendipity a shot.

    Not a good idea.

    The thirty-something hero, also played by Cusak, is less of a mensch than 19-year-old Lloyd Dobler, and the movie pushed every last button I had about the whole “soul mates” trope.

    In the plus column, I got more Jeremy Piven.

  35. Janine
    Oct 18, 2009 @ 10:59:15

    @Virginia Kantra:

    I haven’t seen “Serendipity” but I also like John Cusak a lot in “The Sure Thing,” “High Fidelity” (and for something less romantic-themed, but riveting nontheless) “Runaway Jury.”

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