Say Anything… 20th Anniversary Edition

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-ancient 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 look excellent with his script for Quick 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, Nearly Well-known 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 pot it: the ending. While lesser films would gun for easy uplift, Crowe aces a pleased-sad height hinged on what happens as adulthood beckons. Modern Crowe could learn from it. Then, so could most romcoms.
 

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