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SAY ANYTHING… (director/writer: Cameron Crowe; cinematographer: Laszlo Kovacs; editor: Richard Marks; cast: John Cusack ( Lloyd Dobler), Ione Skye (Diane Court), John Mahoney (James Court), Lili Taylor (Corey Flood), Amy Brooks (D.C.), Pamela Segall (Rebecca), Eric Stoltz (Vahlere), Joan Cusack (Lloyd’s Sister), Lois Chiles (Diane’s Mother), Loren Dean (Joe); Runtime: 100; 20th Century-Fox; 1989)
“Finally, we have a teen film that doesn’t dumb down its story line and play it solely as a goofy teen film.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

First-time director Cameron Crowe (Singles/Jerry Maguire) gives his due respect to these teenage characters. That alone is enough to make this a superior film, but it was also superbly scripted and acted. John Mahoney as James Court, plays a role that is usually one-dimensional but here it has surprising depth. He’s the protective and caring single-parent for his daughter Diane (Skye), the high school valedictorian who has received a scholarship to study in England. John Cusack plays Lloyd Dobler, the graduating high school student who has a crush on the brainy Diane, whose interest is not in scholarship but kickboxing. He lives with his older sister (Joan Cusack, his real sister) and her little boy. Lloyd’s father is stationed in the Army, serving in West Germany.

Lloyd calls Diane for a date even though he doesn’t travel in the same circles, though they are both children of the middle-class. He is attracted to her because of her eyes and does not give up when she says no. In the habit of ‘saying anything’ when nervous, fast-talking his way through situations, he gets the date as Diane is impressed that he made her laugh. Most boys are too scared to even ask her out, even though they find her attractive; but, they are intimidated by her brains. But Lloyd shows that he is a very confident young man.

Diane worships her father, believing he is the best man in the world. She chooses to live with him rather than with her mother. For a graduation present he gives her an expensive new car, something no one else graduating received. He dedicates his life to giving the patients in the nursing home he runs the best care that they can receive, which really impresses Diane. She has a special relationship with him, where he is not only her father but her best friend. They have a deal where they do not lie to each other, and she tells him everything about herself and what she does. On her date with Lloyd, she tells him that he’s a little nutty but that she enjoyed going out to a party with him and meeting his zany friends. She trusts him and believes he’s gallant, and is impressed on a date when he swept aside some broken glass on the sidewalk with his sneakers so that she could safely walk by. She feels that he will always be there for her.

But the father becomes wary of Lloyd at a dinner conversation when he says he wants to become a professional kickboxer. The father finds this career move unacceptable for someone serious about his daughter, as he sees her as someone moving in more elite academic company. And when she tells him that they slept together, the father is glad that she is honest but wants her to break the summer relationship off. He tells her that she will soon be in England and it is better to have no ties with a boy who has no solid future. She tearfully obeys her father and resists Lloyd’s attempts to win her back, as he parks his car in front of her house and serenades her by playing on his boom box the Peter Gabriel CD recording of “In Your Eyes.”

Since honesty is the key to their relationship, a surprising development occurs when her father lies to her about what he did even though he did it solely for her benefit. The IRS investigates him for making huge profits due to phony billing procedures at the nursing home and he is charged with tax evasion, charges that will result in prison time.

The film resolves the relationship she has with the two men in her life, both of whom she dearly loves in a very satisfactory and intelligent way. Finally, we have a teen film that doesn’t dumb down its story line and play it solely as a goofy teen film. Everyone was presented in a real way, even the IRS agents were given more than one dimension.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”