Well hello! This is something movie-related, although not quite for the Crash Course as I’m not quite up to where this movie falls on the list just yet. But this is the year that Cameron Crowe’s Say Anything is turning 30, and they had a big anniversary screening and a reunion panel as part of New York’s Tribeca Film Festival this week. I snapped up a ticket more to see John Cusack in person than anything else (she said, blushing), but he had to drop out of a live appearance at the last minute; he’s just started filming for a series on Amazon, and had to Skype in from Chicago. So the panel ended up being Cameron Crowe and Ione Skye sitting on the stage with John Cusack’s enormous head grinning over their shoulders, which was every bit as surreal as it sounds.
I actually wasn’t all that blown away by the panel anyway. Mostly memory-lane anecdotes and a couple inside-baseball tales that a lot of the entertainment media is picking up now – stories about how Dick Van Dyke was approached for a role (ultimately everyone mutually agreed he was a little too old), or how John Mahoney helped talk John Cusack into the part by talking up the movie while they were filming Eight Men Out, or how Lloyd Dobler was based on a wacky neighbor of Cameron Crowe’s, that kind of thing.
The biggest takeaways from the panel were things I’d already picked up from the movie itself. It very well may have been 30 years since I saw this film all the way through, and I was mostly focused on Lloyd Dobler back then because John Cusack was my jam – but watching it again, I was more struck by the relationship between Diane Court (Ione Skye) and her father (John Mahoney). There are at least three or four major scenes that are just the pair of them talking, and I was struck by how rich that relationship was – how much Jim Court loves his daughter and how much she loves him. And how that all turned on its head into “oh, no, wait, Jim only thinks he loves Diane, he’s convinced himself that he’s doing the right thing.” The scene right before Diane breaks up with Lloyd is chilling – it’s another conversation between Diane and Jim, and I suddenly spotted Jim’s behavior for the manipulation that it was.
During the panel Cameron Crowe also talked about how they’d settled on an element of Lloyd’s character as “positivity as a revolutionary act”. And as soon as he said that I realized, yes – that’s what the appeal is about Lloyd Dobler. He’s optimistic and positive, but not in that kind of Pollyanna way of turning a blind eye to everything that’s problematic. Lloyd doesn’t ignore problems – he sees them there, and says you know what, I’m going to be positive just to spite them. There’s an early line he has in a conversation with his sister – “How hard is it just to decide to be in a good mood?” That’s what works for him – life has dealt him some hard knocks, but he is not going to give in, dammit.
That’s also why the famous boombox scene works too, I think – everyone knows about this scene, where Lloyd is standing under Diane’s window and blasting their song on a boom box. On paper, that sounds corny as all hell. But it works – and the reason why it works, I think, is the look on Lloyd’s face. He’s not standing there with lovelorn tears streaming down his cheeks – he’s standing there defiantly. This love was theirs, and it was good, and Diane breaking up with him was not going to get him to stop celebrating it, dammit.
That’s something I’m finding myself thinking about a lot now in retrospect.
There were also a couple of crowd-reaction moments I thought were touching. The very first time Lloyd came up on screen, sitting in Corey’s room and talking about their upcoming graduation, a little whispery murmur ran through the crowd – the sound of several of us having a tempus-fugit moment of oh my gosh it’s the baby version of John Cusack will you look at that.
During the boombox scene, I noticed several people were trying to take cameraphone pictures of the screen – something that’s perfectly ridiculous if you think about it – and rolled my eyes a little at that. But I noticed something else too – first a couple people just behind me quietly singing along with “In Your Eyes”. Then a few people down the aisle to my right, and a few other voices dotted here and there in the theater – and soon me too. None of us singing too loud, all of us still watching the film, but all of us singing one of the world’s most perfect songs in time with one of the most perfect uses of a song in a movie ever.