Reviews

Say Anything... 20th Anniversary Edition

4

Here comes the boombox

In October 2012, John Cusack loped on stage with a boombox at Peter Gabriel’s Hollywood Bowl gig for the song ‘In Your Eyes’. The fact that the crowd recognised the 23-year-old movie nod is a timely reminder of why people fell for Cameron Crowe’s films. Crowe overdid the corn with Elizabethtown (2005) and We Bought A Zoo (2011), but his feature debut matched its feelgood flushes with truthful tingles.

Previously, Crowe had showed promise with his script for Fast Times At Ridgemont High (1982). Here, between Cusack’s nerve-bundle jitters and Crowe’s heart-first approach, a chemistry is forged that deepens the seemingly textbook on-off affair between live-for-now teen kickboxer Lloyd Dobler (Cusack) and prim high-school valedictorian Diane (Ione Skye).

A sweet and wry romcom about chasing your dreams, the result pre-empts almost every Crowe film (Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous et al). Yet the writer/director drew on personal experience and finessed its well-worn genre threads.

It helps that he keeps the fringes alive, from a sparky Joan Cusack cameo to a persuasive arc for Diane’s dad (John Mahoney), who shows more poignancy and complexity than most stiff patriarchs.

But the trump card arrives just where you expect him to bottle it: the ending. While lesser films would gun for easy uplift, Crowe aces a happy-sad climax hinged on what happens as adulthood beckons. Modern Crowe could learn from it. Then, so could most romcoms.
 

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