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Say Anything... (1989)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 11/3/2009
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 11/7/2009
Movie studios often send promotional items to reviewers. These trinkets are meant to get the critics attention so that they'll pay attention to the movie in question. (Some would argue that they are small bribes, but that would be giving the promotional items way too much credit.) I don't get as many of these items as some of the larger publications, but I've received some interesting ones. Of course, most are merely curiosity pieces which I'll never use. (I've done some arguably geeky things in the past, but I can't imagine whipping out an Indiana Jones passport holder in a foreign country.) Of all of the items which I've received, few have been as simple and as dead-on appropriate as what Fox sent along with the Say Anything... Blu-ray Disc: a pen. If you've seen the film, then you know how perfect that is.
John Cusack stars in Say Anything... as Lloyd Dobler, a graduating high-school senior living in Seattle. As school is ending, Lloyd sees this as his last chance to ask out his dream-girl, class valedictorian Diane Court (Ione Skye). Despite the fact that Lloyd's friends tell him that he's crazy and despite the fact that he and Diane have little in common, he asks her to a graduation party and she agrees. As mentioned by Lloyd's friends, the two live in different worlds. Lloyd is an Army brat, and as his parents are overseas, he lives with his sister (Joan Cusack) and her son (Glenn Walker Harris, Jr.). He loves alternative rock and kickboxing. Diane lives with her father (John Mahoney), who runs a rest home. She has spent most of her life studying and has made few friends in school. She has won an academic fellowship and will soon be leaving for England. Lloyd ignores these roadblocks and is ecstatic about taking Diane to the party. After spending time with Lloyd, she quickly finds herself falling for him. But, complications in Diane's life begin to highlight the differences between them. Can true love bring this couple together?
Allow me to paint a picture for you; in the late 80s, I was a huge John Cusack fan. Better Off Dead and One Crazy Summer were two of my favorite comedies (and still are) and I loved Cusack's performances as the low-key straight-man in those films. While I knew that Say Anything... wouldn't be as silly as those two comedies, I was hoping for a similar experience. I saw the film in the theater upon its initial release and came out very disappointed. What begins as a grounded, but funny look at high-school and teenaged romance quickly takes a turn for the serious and gets in its own way. I felt that the film's big subplot was unnecessary and that it ruined the movie. Cusack gave a solid performance and the famous boom-box scene was memorable, but otherwise, the movie was a disappointment.
Since 1989, I think that I've seen Say Anything... in its entirety only one other time. (And, of course, I've seen bits and pieces on TV over the years.) When it came time to review this Blu-ray Disc, I wasn't very excited about watching the movie, despite the clever pen.
Well, I'm glad that I did re-visit Say Anything... . I'm not sure if it's maturity or gained wisdom, but 20 years later, I have a different slant on the movie. I've always felt that there were some clever lines in the movie, but now I can see how poignant some of Writer/Director Cameron Crowe's writing was. The characters were well-developed and Diane Court is a very unique character, as this is someone who could easily be classified as a nerd, but she is simply someone who has lived in an academic world and never tasted any other reality. Looking back, I had remembered the subplot involving Diane's father as dominating the latter half of the film, but it's really only a small part. The film is well-paced, and although it relies more on drama than comedy in the latter half, it never feels slow. Cusack's performance is still great. He had built a career on being goofy, and while he lets go a few times here, it's easy to buy him as a world-weary young man who is simply looking for love.
While I'll never understand why Cameron Crowe would go on to such acclaim for the awful Jerry Maguire, he certainly shows poise and promise with Say Anything..., his directorial debut. The movie is somewhat silly in the beginning and too sad in the end, but in-between it manages to capture the urgency which can come with young love. In the film, Lloyd asks Diane for a second chance. I'm glad that I gave the movie one.
Say Anything... hangs out at the Gas 'n Sip on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 23 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, with no overt grain and no defects from the source material. However, it is notably dark for a Blu-ray Disc. The action is always visible, but the darkness makes it look like broadcast TV and not a Blu-ray Disc. The colors are good and the level of detail is acceptable. There is one scene near the end where the background behind Diane changes colors for a few seconds. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The in-film music sounds great and it's nice to hear some of these songs again. The party and street scenes provide notable stereo and surround effects which are nicely detailed. Subwoofer effects are limited to bass notes from the music.
The Say Anything... Blu-ray Disc contains several extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Writer/Director Cameron Crowe, John Cusack, and Ione Skye. The movie can also be viewed with a the "To Know Say Anything... Is To Love It!" Trivia Track. "An Iconic Film Revisited: Say Anything... 20 Years Later" (22 minutes) gets immediate bonus points for the fact that this is a retrospective featurette which has interviews with the people that you actually want to see. Crowe, Cusack, Skye, and John Mahoney share their memories of the film, discussing the characters, the production, and the way in which the movie was received. The director gives us his views on the film in "A Conversation with Cameron Crowe" (10 minutes). Various familiar faces, such as Thomas Lennon and Beth Littleford shares their feelings on the movie in "I Love Say Anything..." (8 minutes). The Disc sports a collection of cutting room floor extras -- five ALTERNATE SCENES (11 minutes), ten DELETED SCENES (13 minutes), and thirteen EXTENDED SCENES (25 minutes). The "Vintage Featurette" (7 minutes) plays like the standard "Electronic Press Kit" which is made up mostly of clips from the movie. The extras are rounded out by three TRAILERS, eight TV SPOTS, and a PHOTO GALLERY.
Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long