Monday, 26 October 2009

Say Anything... remembered

I can't believe it's 20 years since Cameron Crowe's Say Anything... was released.

I adored the film when I first saw it and adore it even more now. It is the perfect teen movie, in the way that Crowe's Singles is the perfect twentysomething movie. I actually reviewed Say Anything... for Empire as a theatrical release, but Fox sat on it for months in the UK before, inexplicably, sending the film straight to video.

The LA Times spoke to Crowe in conjunction with the movie's upcoming 20th anniversary Blu-Ray release. "It's a very personal movie," he said, "and it reminds me of falling in love, falling out of love, and falling back in love with life and all the unexpected glories and pain that happen along the way."

Here's my 20-year-old review from Empire:

Say Anything... ****

Sporty high-school senior Lloyd is entranced by aloof protege Diane, who is closely guarded by her dad. When she is offered the chance of a lifetime to study in England, she must decide on here affections as well as her future. Say Anything... never did manage a cinema airing, despite an extraordinary thumbs-up in America. Last year a round-up of US critics' favourite releases ranked it with Henry V, Do The Right Thing, My Left Foot and Roger & Me, but Fox insisted that cinema scheduling made a theatrical release impossible in the UK.

It's baffling, because Simpsons producer James L. Brooks and former teenage prodigy rock journalist with Rolling Stone turned Fast Times At Ridgemont High author Cameron Crowe, here making his debut as director, have crafted a hugely enjoyable teen pic. It mixes pathos and repartee; and, for once, the plot's primary preoccupation isn't the pursuit of sex. Instead it adopts a refreshingly mature approach to a story we've seen many times before. Diana (Ione Skye) is pretty but prissy, a straight-A high school student, the kind of Daddy's Girl who plumps for Pa over Ma in divorce custody proceedings. Lloyd (John Cusack) is the nonconformist offspring of a US Army Colonel who lives with his single-parent sister and practises Bruce Lee drop-kicks on his baby nephew. She has a prestigious biochemistry scholarship awaiting her in England, he retains aspirations of becoming a professional kickboxer.

A more incongruous pair you'd be pushed to match, but after agreeing to date number one, she falls for his charms. Daddy Court (John Mahoney), understandably, feels somewhat alienated and indeed miffed at his beloved baby's sudden transfer of affections: cue much relationship questioning and strenuous soul-searching. So Diane dumps Lloyd, but just as soon as Pop's back as her main man, a tax investigation into his nursing home exposes him as a crook. The performances, in particular Cusack's, are solid, the angst painfully plausible and the humour very, very funny. There's no saccharine Happy Ending either - instead we get a remarkably satisfying one. Watch out for an uncredited walk-on from Dan Castellenetta as Diane's teacher.

I've really missed Crowe's voice on the big screen. Let's hope Elizabethtown isn't the last we hear from him.


J.D. said...

SAY ANYTHING is an incredible film with so many truisms about relationships, esp. at the age of those characters. The dialogue and character behavior is spot on. This is one of those rare films I can put on and watch pretty much any time.

If I'm not mistaken, next up for Crowe is a doc. on Pear Jam.

Mark Salisbury said...

Wow. Putting together one of my favourite filmmakers with one of my favourite bands...

Mind you, I loved their cameo in Singles as Matt Dillon's band.

J.D. said...

Yeah, their cameo is priceless.

"A compliment for us is a compliment for you."

"We are LOVED in Belgium."

Mark Salisbury said...

Hahahaha. I LOVE Singles. There was a time when I would watch it at least once a month. Great moment too in the supermarket with Jeremy Piven as the cashier...

In fact, it's a film of great moments. All adding up to one great whole.

I think I'm going to have to watch it again...

J.D. said...

yeah, the Piven cameo is classic. "Of course, you may be busy." Heh....

I have this theory that as far as Gen X films go... REALITY BITES was the studio/commercial take, SLACKER, the indie/authentic take and SINGLES sits right in the middle. It was bankrolled by the studio but still has the mark of auteur. I also love how Crowe said that he wanted SINGLES to do for Seattle what Woody Allen's MANHATTAN did for New York City.

One of these days I'm hoping to give SINGLES the in-depth treatment on my blog.