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Review: Say Anything (1989)

Say Anything (1989) 

Directed by: Cameron Crowe

Premise: Two high school students, one an underachiever with no direction (John Cusack) and another the school valedictorian (Ione Skye), fall in love the summer after their graduation.

What Works: Years after its original release, what separates Say Anything from the rest of the 1980s teen romance genre is the film’s characters. Say Anything features teens who have real lives and relationships that are far more interesting and complex than what is often presented in the genre. The relationship between Diane (Skye) and her father (John Mahoney) is one of the most interesting in the film because of its ups and downs. As a story this film is very tight, its pacing is fun, and film plays up the fear of the unknown as these two lovers move into the uncharted future. This is Cameron Crowe’s first directorial outing, and the film features Crowe’s characteristic music selections, but in this film music serves much more narrative purpose than it does in some of his later work. The image of Cusack holding a stereo over his head playing “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel has become an iconic bit of popular culture.

What Doesn’t: This is a 1980s teen romance and it does follow the basic outline of its genre. As a result, the narrative it is rather predictable.

DVD extras: Deleted and extended scenes, featurette.

Bottom Line: Say Anything is still one of Cameron Crowe’s best films because of its narrative simplicity. The film moves along so well and its characters are so well rendered that it easily overcomes the conventions of the formula and stands as a great cultural touchstone from the 1980s and a very well done teen romance.

Episode: #110 (September 17, 2006)