Say Anything… (1989)

Say_Anything“How’d you get Diane Court to go out with you?”
“I called her up.”
“But how come it worked? I mean, like, what are you?”
“I’m Lloyd Dobler.”

She’s a brain, he’s not, sounds simple right? For such a basic premise Say Anything… has surprising depth. A lot of this is a credit to the performances of John Cusack and Ione Skye, along with the script by Cameron Crowe. The story is this: high school is over and the unknown future is what looms ahead. For Diane Court that means college, a fellowship in England, and the like. For Lloyd Dobler, we do not know what that means and he doesn’t either. For the moment he still has time, and he wants to use that moment to pursue Diane, the seemingly unreachable girl.

First of all, you have to understand how insane that goal is for a guy like Lloyd. He is a lover of kickboxing, The Clash, and he is an average student who lives with his sister and little nephew. Diane is the class valedictorian, doted over by her loving father, and she is a surprisingly sweet girl who dresses well and is a cut above. Not in a million years is he supposed to get her, but I said that already.

Anyways, Lloyd is a straightforward and to the point kind of guy, so he simply calls her house to ask her out. She finally gives into to his requests, and they go to a party to celebrate the end of their high school career. For him, it’s their first date, and she sees it just as a very nice evening. Diane leaves with a new found appreciation for Lloyd because he’s not like other guys. He periodically checks on her during the party to make sure she is alright and points out broken glass on the pavement for her to avoid. He is a gentleman in a trench coat, a strangely vulnerable figure.

Lloyd’s only future plans are to hang out with Diane as much as possible and as far as career plans he is not really sure. When everyone else, even his high school counselor, worry about the future, he always seems strangely, even naively, content.

Diane and Lloyd are slowly growing more and more connected and intimate. However, when Mr. Court goes under criminal investigation things begin to change. At first, everything is the same, with Lloyd teaching Diane how to drive stick shift and Diane growing more and more comfortable with him. And yet, with the familial situation at hand, she feels it necessary to break it off with him, leaving him a pen to write her with. Lloyd is especially wounded, confessing to his sister over the phone, “I gave her my heart and she gave me a pen.”

Soon enough Mr. Court’s account is cut off and in some ways, I felt strangely sorry for the man, but more so for Diane. One day Lloyd comes by with his boombox in tow, standing outside her window in one last monumental act of devotion. Nothing happens right then. Diane is still struggling with her father who it turns out has been swindling his elderly clients, but all for her future. She feels lied to and the only person she could run to is Lloyd, so she does and he takes her back.

Later on, he sees her father in prison and shares that his plan is to go to England with her, despite all the objections that come with it. The two jet-setters are together again proving all the doubters wrong. They wait for the ding of the smoking sign signaling the beginning of the rest of their lives.

This is perhaps one of the greatest high school romances ever, because it is far from the typical superficiality. Lloyd Dobler is played so wonderfully by John Cusack. You cannot help love this lanky guy who is fearlessly straightforward and willing to take a chance. Ione Skye is a bit overshadowed, but she is still convincingly sweet as the victim who finds the perfect guy. John Mahoney’s character is a despicable man and yet it is a credit to him that he actually makes us feel a bit of pity, for an instant. Obviously, the boombox scene is iconic, but I think it is the little things about Lloyd that make this film great. Every person could probably take a page out of his playbook by being honest, vulnerable, and most definitely loyal.

4.5/5 Stars

2 thoughts on “Say Anything… (1989)

    • That’s awesome! Thanks, I saw it for the first time only a year or two ago and I was amazed how different it felt from a lot of other teen coming of age films. It had more vulnerability and depth. Lloyd is a great character.


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