Popspotting #141: “Dumping Lloyd Dobler” (Oct. 3, 2011)
This “Movie Monday” brings another double feature, this week highlighting two of Jen’s favorite John Cusack films. Although he’s plays a teenager in one and a directionless twenty-something in the other, Cusack delivers memorable performances in both as men dealing with love and heartbreak.
“Say Anything” was released in 1989, and was written and directed by Cameron Crowe. We meet aspiring kickboxer Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack), who romances valedictorian Diane Court (Ione Skye). This is Jen’s all-time favorite movie (although she’ll tell you it’s “The Godfather Part II” to save face), and one that we both have seen over a hundred times.
Released in 2000, “High Fidelity” is based on the Nick Hornby novel of the same name (published in 1995). Directed by Stephen Frears, who’s only other notable credit is probably “Dangerous Liaisons” two years earlier), the film is a snapshot of a generation… or at least a generation of men. Cusack plays Rob, who gets dumped by yet another girlfriend, and decides to take a trip down memory lane to figure out what’s wrong with him.
The possibilities are endless for John Cusack features, and John Hughes films for that matter. Got a suggestion for a future film pairing? Speak up!
This entry was posted by Ryan on October 2, 2011 at 3:46 pm, and is filed under Movies, Podcasts. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0.
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OK, let’s take your pairing suggestions and put a reverse mix on them.
I think the most off the wall movies of John Hughes and John Cusack are “Weird Science” and “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” respectively.
“Weird”, while on its face more a standard teen sex comedy than you would normally likely see from John Hughes, (and I suppose it does have its moments of enjoyable titilation). But at its heart it’s more like another odd, enjoyable flick – “Real Genius” – which are both stories of smart kids trying to adjust into the adult world through the lens of their brave new world, a world of women out of their reach, of new understanding of where they stand inÂ new social world, of creating their own forms of family as their parents are no longer the key authorities in their lives.Â Weird Science despite having broad comedy and slapstick throughout has interesting undertones of sweetness and real friendship:Â Kelly LeBrock ends up as much a guidance counseller and prankster genie as a MILF Bride of Frankenstein and evil brother Chet learns to respect his younger sibling.
“Midnight” is the adult side of the same coin.Â Sultry and eccentric Savannah is the playground for Jim Williams, Lady Chablis, and John Cusack’s journalist character as our guide, and getting our wishes fulfilled is more dangerous because real lives are affected by our dreams and desires becoming reality.Â Â People get killed, or go to jail, or at least have to suffer the indignaties of being a social outcast based on living a life less chosen.Â But despite the seriousness of the plots main events, its a playful film, one in which (the real world) Chablis is a delightful and charismatic presence, and Spacey’s Williams is a charming rogue, and voodoo might be real.Â The moral of this world seems to be, you can create your own world if you are willing to pay the price
Cusack is a quiet and amiable presence in this movie, different for him but successful since the plot needed a real world lens for us to look through the sometimes fanciful events, It reminds me of his more silly role in “Better off Dead”, a deadpan everyman who remarks upon the odd friends and unusual events he happens upon.
Both movies had effective pop soundtracks.Â Oingo Boingo’s catchy title song highlighted a 80’s cavalcade of “stars” (OMD, Wall of Voodoo, Los Lobos, Kim Wilde) and “Midnight”had director Clint Eastwood’s now customarily quirky soundtrack, mainly populated with Johnny Mercer favorites, appropriate both in tone and the locale of Savannah’s native son.
Neither of these flicks were the best of the Johns (Hughes and Cusack) but both are quirky, take a few chances, bring a smile to my face each time I watch them, and take somevery good actors to interesting places where they can stretch their wings a bit.Â
Musically, my only challenge with Say Anything is the choice to remove one line of the lyric from “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel.Â The chorus for In Your Eyes in any previous version reads:Â “In your eyes / the light the heat / in your eyes / I am complete / in your eyes / I see the doorway /Â to a thousand churches / the resolution / of all my fruitless searches.”
In the version of the song for the movie soundtrack, the line “I see the doorway / to a thousand churches” was removed.Â I would love to hear your thoughts about this (or if you even noticed it).Â To me, it insults the audience — there is something spiritual about Lloyd and Diane’s relationship and to strike out that note of spirituality at that moment seems wrong.Â I have also seen interpretations of this song that make it out to be much more about a person’s relationship with God rather than a relationship with another person.Â If this is the intent of the song, then the “churches” line provides an interesting clue that obviously the movie producers needed to remove from it for the scene to work.
In any event, I always notice the absence of the line when I listen to the soundtrack CD.
I haven’t downloaded this episode yet (so I’ll comment afterwards) but I do want to suggest a potential double-feature for Cameron Crowe’s movies, since he does have a movie coming out (We Bought a Zoo). I don’t know (or recall) how you guys feel about Almost Famous, but I actually liked Singles a lot even if some of the “grunge” songs on the soundtrack feels a bit dated. Then Vanilla Sky happened, and… terrible movie, even with a good (but not great) soundtrack. I doubt that he ever recovered from that.
So, yeah, definitely Singles and Almost Famous. And Fast Times at Ridgemont High, too (saw it on TV once; pretty gut-wrenching for a teen movie, even with topless Phoebe Cates)… unless you want to throw Vanilla Sky in there, just for laughs.Â
Thanks for the review, Al! of course, you will have to give ‘Say Anything’ another chance. I never loved ‘Weird Science’ as much as my fellow geeks did, so maybe I need to give it another look myself!
Hughes’s Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club.Â How about a Nicholas Cage pairing:Â Honeymoon in Vegas and Leaving Las Vegas.
Thank you for mentioning that was the soundtrack version, I’ve been searching for a while to figure out where that came from because to me it throws off the whole balance of the song rhythmically and I hadn’t been able to find out what the deal was. It’s funny, in the 80s & 90s (when the movie was much more current) they only ever played the album version on the radio, it’s only more recently that I’ve heard the version without the lyric. I wonder if the switch was conscious by someone or, more likely in my estimation, some Clearchannel boob converted the soundtrack version to MP3 and that’s the one that went to all of their 10,000 US stations, so that’s the only on we get now.