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Romantic comedy about a less-than-average student who falls in love with a brilliant biochemistry major.
For more about Say Anything... and the Say Anything... Blu-ray release, see the Say Anything... Blu-ray Review
Starring: John Cusack, Ione Skye, John Mahoney, Lili Taylor, Amy Brooks, Pamela Segall
Director: Cameron Crowe
» See full cast & crew
Say Anything... Blu-ray Review
“I gave her my heart, she gave me a pen.”
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, November 3, 2009
That first real love is rough. You're seventeen, eighteen years old, school has just ended, the most monumental summer of your life lies ahead, but you know that the girl of your dreams is headed off for college in a few short months. Your emotions are irrational and uncontainable. She's a vision, a muse, an object of desire that's anything but obscure. There's the sense that this is all there is, that this fleeting summer is life in miniscule, that nothing could ever possibly follow. That feeling is so distinct, so universal, but few films ever do it justice. The average teen romance is a half-baked comedy, a vulgar sex farce, or worse, a melting pot of dippy characters and saccharine generalities. But then there's Say Anything—Cameron Crowe's directorial debut—a film that encapsulates everything about that hazy summer between high school and the real world, and that looks with un-ironic optimism at the life-changing potency of young love.
Set in the suburbs of Seattle, Say Anything follows Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack), a recent high school graduate who has no clue what the future holds. He's got a thing for kickboxing, and he knows he doesn't want to "sell anything, buy anything, or process anything" as a career, but that's the extent of his foresight. His stationed-in-Germany father wants him to join the military, but what Lloyd is really looking for is a "dare to be great situation." After working up the nerve, Lloyd phones Diane Court (Ione Skye), the ambitious, sweet, but generally misunderstood class valedictorian, and asks her to go to a massive year-end party with him. They're an odd couple for sure—she's recently been awarded a fellowship to study in England and he's basically aimless— but their mutual affections become unavoidable. A "friends with potential" situation blossoms into all-out love, but Diane is conflicted. She knows she has to leave at the end of the summer, and her doting and generous father Jim (John Mahoney), who is being investigated by the IRS, pressures her to break off the relationship. Wounded but undeterred, Lloyd goes about trying to win Diane back, a process that includes the now-iconic scene where Lloyd stands outside his love's window, holding aloft a boom box playing Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes."
It's not hard to see why Say Anything remains not only a cult favorite, but also one of the best teen romance movies to ever make audiences heave a collective, heartfelt sigh. Rather than weaving a formulaic narrative around stiff-as-a-board stock stereotypes, Cameron Crowe builds his characters in a uniquely voiced script, and then allows his actors to fill out the roles with ticks, mannerisms, and traits that all add up to authentic and believable personalities. Lloyd Dobler is one of the all-time great cinematic teen characters. He's average but extraordinary, identifiable but individual, an eternal optimist who refuses to relinquish his idealism for the humdrum existence of the standard post-high school career path. And, as female viewers will attest, he knows how to treat a woman. He's sensitive and thoughtful—watch as he carefully steers Diane away from some broken glass on the sidewalk—but he's also defiant about his love. He fights for it, wrestles with it. When he holds the boom box up and blasts "their" song, it's not so much a plea as it is a declaration. It takes two to tango, though, and Ione Skye is the perfect partner. She's not exactly the girl next door—she's more superlative than that—but she's winsome and naïve, the girl that everyone admires but nobody knows. The onscreen chemistry between Cusack and Skye is undeniable, not in a heated, passionate way—though there's some of that—but in their playfulness, in the sheer joy of being with one another that defines their relationship.
The world that surrounds the two lovebirds is equally established. John Mahoney is frighteningly good as Diane's overprotective father, and the strange, vaguely creepy dynamic that exists between them—he's a little too giving, and too reliant—is something you would never see in a less imaginative film. The surrounding characters are quirky and real, especially Lloyd's female friend Corey (Lili Taylor), who seems to be a little in love with him, but who also alternately pines after and hates the guy who stole her virginity, prompting her to write songs with lyrics like, "Joe lies when he cries."
There are moments in the film that could never be dreamed up unless someone—Crowe, in this case—actually experienced them. The director has never been shy about acknowledging the autobiographical elements of his scripts, especially the earlier ones, and the film's most tender scene—when Lloyd shivers after making love with Diane, too overwhelmed by the experience to control himself—is apparently ripped straight from Crowe's own first relationship. And really, that's what makes Say Anything so memorable. It feels personal, like it's an ode to the experience of being young and in love. That intense longing between Lloyd and Diane is something we've all hopefully felt, and their story is like a polished, perfected version of our own fumbling, lunging attempts at intimacy.
Say Anything... Blu-ray, Video Quality
Twenty years after its debut, Say Anything arrives on Blu-ray with an excellent 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer that gets just about everything right. Catalog titles often get the rushed-out-the-door treatment, but Say Anything looks phenomenal for its age. While obviously not as sharp and defined as a contemporary release, the film displays an impressive sense of clarity, depth, and detail throughout. Check out the scene where Lloyd is talking to his sister on the pay phone—black levels are deep but allow you to make out shadow detail, the threading of Lloyd's shirt is easily discernable, and the pounding rain in the foreground and background creates an image with real presence. Colors are strong, even in darker scenes, and having lived in the Pacific Northwest myself, the predominance of bright green comes as no surprise. The film's thin grain structure is fully intact—there's no DNR here—and I didn't see any edge enhancement or technical defects. In fact, I really have few complaints. I did spot three instances when the color timing made a slight but noticeable shift—see 1:24:13, 1:27:57, and 1:28:10—but I'm sure this is source- related and not a transfer issue. Other than that, Say Anything is sourced from an exceptionally clean print and I can't imagine the film looking much better than it does here.
Say Anything... Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Cameron Crowe fans are well aware of the director's affinity for music, and Say Anything's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track does that love justice, reproducing the many pop/rock songs in the film with warmth, depth, and fidelity. Bass response is strong without being overpowering and the music is enveloping, especially during the big party scene. The film's main theme sounds great, with swelling synth pads in the surround speakers while the guitar melody cuts cleanly through the mix. Aside from the music, this is a dialogue-driven, front-heavy film, but the rear channels do occasionally offer up some ambience, like neighborhood noises, party chatter, and street sounds. Though, I was surprised that we don't hear any rain in the rears during the massive downpour when Lloyd is at the payphone. Dialogue is a expertly prioritized and the whole track has a spacious and well-balanced mix. There's not much here to challenge your home stereo set-up, but Say Anything sounds full and clear, and you really can't ask for much more than that.
Say Anything... Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Cameron Crowe, John Cusack and Ione Skye have so much to talk about here that they start the commentary track a full twenty minutes before the film begins! In this introductory section— which covers the inspiration for the story and the casting—stills from the film and on-set photos play onscreen so we're not just listening to them talk. When the film actually begins, the three reminisce non-stop, give insights into the character and script, telling stories, and sharing a lot of laughs. This is one of the most heartfelt, good-natured commentaries I've heard in a while.
An Iconic Film Revisted: Say Anything…20 Years Later (1080p, 21:57)
Props to 20th Century Fox for putting together this short but charming retrospective—and for filming it in high definition—which features interviews with Cameron Crowe, John Cusack, Ione Skye, John Mahoney, and Nancy Wilson. A lot of love clearly went into the making of Say Anything, and Crowe discusses some of the very personal inspirations for the film, while the actors look back on the experience fondly. A great addition.
A Conversation with Cameron Crowe (1080p, 9:31)
Culled from the same interview as the previous documentary, Crowe here explains how he came to direct the film, admits John Cusack's initial reluctance to do the film, and reminisces about the process of learning to become a director.
I Love Say Anything… (1080p, 7:31)
Here, a host of comedians—including Weird Al and Marianne Sierk—profess their undying love for Say Anything, relive their favorite moments, and quote liberally from the film. This feels like something that would be on an "I Love the '80s" special on VH1.
To Know Say Anything… Is To Love It! Trivia Track
Turn this feature on from the special features menu to trigger a steady flow of "pop-up video" style trivia bubbles throughout the film. I found this to be a great pairing with the commentary track.
Alternate Scenes (SD, 11:05 total)
Includes alternate takes of five scenes, including several less-than-effective attempts at the now- iconic boom box scene.
Deleted Scenes (SD, 13:17)
There are ten deleted scenes; the most interesting include a creepy teacher hitting on Diane, Lloyd confronting his fear of old people chewing food, and another song about Joe.
Extended Scenes (SD, 24:39)
To differentiate the old from the new in these thirteen extended sequences, the parts of the scenes that exist the film are shown in black and white, while the excised pieces are in color.
Vintage Featurette (SD, 6:58)
EPK featurettes really haven't changed at all over the years! Here you'll find talking head interviews, clips from the film, and a bit of behind-the-scenes footage.
Photo Gallery (1080p, 6:20)
This self-playing gallery contains loads of publicity shots, stills, and on-set photos.
TV Spots (SD, 4:17 total)
Trailers (SD, 4:36 total)
Say Anything... Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I love Say Anything. Sweet, funny, charming, and full of relatable characters, it's likely to echo your own post-high school experiences in one way or another. It's also one of the best teen romance films ever and I'm glad to see it receive such a great treatment on Blu-ray. Highly recommended.
Say Anything... Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - November 3rd - November 3, 2009
When 'Forrest Gump' received its theatrical release 15 years ago, the media quickly latched onto the realistic special effects used to insert Tom Hanks character into a number of historically significant film footage that can be seen throughout the film. ...
• Say Anything Blu-ray Announced and Detailed - August 21, 2009
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has announced that it will release Cameron Crowe's teen romantic comedy 'Say Anything...' on Blu-ray on November 3. This 20th anniversary edition BD carries over all of the bonus materials of the previous DVD edition and adds ...
Say Anything... Blu-ray Screenshots
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