This is an excerpt taken from the book "Pretty in Pink: The Golden Age of Teenage Movies", written by Jonathan Bernstein. So if any lawyers are reading this, I am definitely committing copyright infringement. So unless I'm told to take it off, this page is staying, for the benefit of all "SAY ANYTHING" fans.


"I'm going to take out Diane Court" are the first words out of Lloyd Dobler's mouth in Cameron Crowe's "Say Anything" (1989), a movie which manages to be entirely affecting and entertaining at the same time as hitting heights of parent-bashing from which John Hughes would recoil in shocked horror. Crowe's Lloyd, though, is no Hughes hero hiding his hurt under hipster posturing, warding off rejection with his snappy vocabulary. He's a tall, pale, vulnerable but defiantly optimistic kick boxer. He once sat across from Diane Court at a mall, and now on the eve of graduation, the only thing in his life of which he has any certainty is that we wants to take her out. His best friend Corey (Lili Taylor) and D.C. (Amy Reiner) overflow with reasons why this will not happen. "Diane Court doesnt go out with guys like you....she's a brain....trapped in the body of a game show hostess...Brains stay with brains. The bomb could go off and their mutant genes would form the same cliques....You're a really nice guy and we dont want to see you get hurt." "I want to get hurt!" declares Lloyd.

"I have glimpsed our future and all I can say is go back!" This is the lovely, gifted and brilliant Diane Court (Ione Skye) rehearsing her valedictorian address in front of her father Jim (raspmaster John Mahoney) who creases with laughter. All that beauty, all those brains, and she's funny, too. But he's not just her devoted dad, he's her friend. They can tell each other anything, thats the nature of the relationship. "History, oceanography, creative writing, biochemistry...We're going to remember this student who said 'Hey world, check ME out!" Thats how Diane Court is introduced to her fellow graduates of Seattle's Lakeside High School, most of whom regard her as an alien being. Her big laugh line bombs but she presses ahead with her speech: "I have all the hope and ambition in the world, but when I think about the future the truth is, I am really scared."

Her fears seem unwarranted. Jim Court tolerantly takes a message from Lloyd, figuring him for just another schmo, unworthy of his daughter's attentions. The next message knocks him off his feet. Jumping in his car (and warbling tunelessly but exuberantly along with "Rikki, Dont Lose that Number"), he drives to the nursing home he runs. Practically levitating with pride, he informs Diane that she's won the coveted scholarship, the Reid Scholarship; she'll be studying in England. She slumps to the ground in disbelief. "You're the best in the country...One brilliant person who is so special they celebrate you on two continents."

Even though she has no idea who he is, the courteous Diane returns Lloyd's call. He wades thru some small talk before taking the plunge and asking her to a postgraduaton party. She blows him off, saying she's busy. "So you're...monumentally busy?" he asks, and this unexpected retort amuses her and holds her attention. Lloyd, a nervous talker who becomes increasingly whimsical the more he's forced to improvise, promises to give her tips, many tips, important tips on living in England (an Army brat, he was there for two months). Surprising herself, she agrees to go with him, then reaches for the yearbook to check that she hasnt committed to being seen with a pock-marked buffoon.

Jim Court, too, is amused by Lloyd's babbling assurances of his stability and suitability as an escort for his daughter, but-especially after Diane has made a knockout entrance, a vision in white- he's baffled as to what she's doing with him. A wasted party reveler voices Jim's bafflement" "How'd you get Diane Court to go out with you? What are you?" The answer: "I'm Lloyd Dobler." If, as I attested in the previous chapter, the soiree in "Weird Science" ranks as one of the all-time worst teen movie party scenes, the raging postgrad kegger in "Say Anything" is one of the best. It has Eric Stoltz dressed as a rooster. It has Lloyd's response to an impromptu bout of career counseling from his guidance teacher: "I'm looking for a dare-to-be-great situation." It has the Corey and Joe saga. "I wrote 63 songs this year and they're all about Joe, and I'm going to play every single one of them tonight," announces Corey of the guy who broke her heart and left her suicidal. "He likes girls with names like Ashley," she wails. At that exact moment, Joe ambles in not with an Ashley but a Mimi, causing Corey to kick up the tempo, slash at her guitar and snarl, "That'll never be me, never be me, never, never, no." By the time she's howling "Joe lies when he cries," the subject of her repertoire is asking to get back together again when Mimi goes to college. This, of course, motivates Corey finally to get over him.

The party is also a belated opportunity for diane to interact briefly with all the people from whom her intense study schedule shielded her. one girl, Sheila asks "Did you really come here with Lloyd Dobler? How did that happen?" Diane says, "He made me laugh," which is both a "Yeah, right" moment and an "If only" moment. as dawn breaks (they've spent the last 3 hrs driving around till the drunk kid in the back remembers where he lives), diane and lloyd stop off at a 7-11 for something to eat. returning to the car, he points out broken glass on the ground for her to walk around. she tells him, "i've never really gone out with anyone as basic as you." he takes it as a compliment and tells her he wants to see her all the time.

lloyd's girl buds are nervous because diane's made the 2nd date a dinner with her dad, his accountant and a couple of his employees. "its a family audition...its not his crowd, he's got that nervous talking thing. i told him not to speak." the skeptical corey asks,"if you were diane court would you honestly fall for lloyd?" she weighs her words for a second, then her face relaxes into a grin. she says "Yeah" and her "Yeah" is unanimous.

At the Court dinner party, lloyd is polite and silent and uptight. then the accountant says, "So, Lloyd, you graduated Lakewood...what are your plans for the future?" all eyes are on him. its a crucial opinion-forming, confidence-building (or killing) moment. the way lloyd dobler responds to his deceptively innocuous question is a strong indicator of character. turning to Jim Court, who is jovially eyeing him like a snake, he responds, "To spend as much time with diane before she leaves as possible." but jim's frozen smile demands more. lloyd tries to articulate a correct response. "a career?...i've thought about this quite a bit, sir. i dont want to sell anything, buy anything or process anything as a career. i dont want to sell anything bought or processed or buy anything sold or processed or process anything sold, bought or processed or repair anything sold, bought or processed as a career. I dont want to do that." talk about sucking the atmosphere out of a room. this really isnt lloyd's crowd. jim court stares at lloyd like he's a disease. lloyd has more to impart. "My father's in the army. he wants me to join, but i cant work for that corporation, so what i've been doing lately is kick boxing, which is a new sport...as far as career longevity, i dont really know..." shifting under jim's get-out-of-my-house gaze, lloyd shrugs. "i cant figure it all out tonight, sir. I'm just gonna hang with your daughter." a few years down the line and a speech like that would have made lloyd the hit of the party, a living, breathing poster boy for generational malaise. but this is 1988. the adults in the room lapse into embarrassed silence and Jim looks like he's counting the seconds till he can throw Lloyd out before the punk's lack of direction infects his genius daughter. attention is diverted from the black hole of lloyd by a knock on the door. its a surprise visit from the IRS, telling Jim he's under criminal investigaion. here's where things start to go awry for the 2 men in diane's life.

"Get ready for greatness," corey tells lloyd, after intuiting that he and diane have gone all the way (in the back of his clunky Malibu to the sappy accompaniment of Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes"), then reading the letter he sent her. "I'll always be there for you, all the love in my heart, Lloyd." But corey reckons with jim court's emotional manipulation of his daughter. using the wide parameters of their liberal relationship, his mounting IRS problems and the gulf separating her specialness from Lloyd's schmo-hood, he weakens her resolve. "You owe it to yourself to be on that plane with no attachments...Give him a present, here. let him know you still care; give him this pen." she shakes her head in disbelief. "in a million years i would never give him a pen." at the exact moment when lloyd makes the big leap and tells diane he loves her, she breaks up with him. "I feel like a dick, you must think i'm a dick." the distraught and suddenly inarticulate diane ends up giving him the pen before rushing out of his car in floods of tears.

for lloyd, the downward spiral is hanging out a Welcome sign. standing in a phone booth, soaked to the skin in the middle of a Seattly monsoon, lloyd laments to his sister constance (joan cusack) "I gave her my heart, and she gave me a pen," which, in some movies, would have been the cue for a wailing duet called "I Gave You My Heart and You Gave Me a Pen" to well up on the soundtrack. taking up residence in the slough of despond, lloyd drives thru the dark lonely night, composing a letter to corey on a dictaphone. " i hardly remember her; i've wiped her from my mind...this is it, the site of our controversial first date. i met her at a mall, i should have known our relationship was doomed." deciding he knows too many girls, lloyd takes a detour into Guyville. the advice from the lunkheads and losers hanging around outside the convenience store is direct and to the point. "find a girl that looks just like her, nail her and then dump her...your only mistake is that you didnt dump her first. diane court is a show pony, you need a stallion my friend, walk with us and you walk tall...." lloyd bleeds in front of the boys: "that girl made me trust myself, man. i was walking around, i was feeling satisfied...then she cuts me loose...she wont tell me why." he hurls a bottle against the wall in frustration, cuasing a spontaneous outburst of white boy freestyling: "wigging out, he's wigging out...Lloyd, Lloyd, all null and void."

back on the road to nowhere, lloyd resumes his monologue "That was a mistake. the rain on my car is a baptism...my assault on the world begins now. believe in myself, answer to no one. Iceman. Power Lloyd." corey and d.c. upbraid him for trying to act like a guy. "the world is full of guys. be a man, dont be a guy."

the ground beneath Jim Court begins to subside when he's out buying luggage for diane's flight to england. taken by the saleslady's sunny smile and pear-shaped ass, he gives her a big grin and starts to strike up friendly conversation. then she has to tell him his credit card has been rejected. there's a decline code on his account. next time we see jim, he's shriveled up in fetal terror, hunched fully clothed in his own bathtub, cowering from the consequences of his actions.

lloyd launches an offensive on diane's emotions by standing outside her window, holding aloft a boombox blaring Peter Gabriel's limpid "In Your Eyes." trying hard to stand by her dad, she appeals to the human decency of an IRS guy to tell her the truth. he tells her jim's been under investigation for 5 years; he's been making a tidy sum, stealing from the geriatric inhabitants of his nursing home. "we have the records...its going to get worse." diane succumbs to suspicion and searches her house for incriminating evidence, which she finds in the form of a hidden stash of bills. she goes straight to the nursing home to confront Jim. "i told you everything and you lied to me." fleeing from the man she thought she could trust, diane rushes to be with the man she should have trusted but didnt. lloyd is sparring in the ring-with don "the dragon" wilson!- and diane's surprise appearance distracts him, giving The Dragon the opportunity to fell him like a tree. dazed and bloody, lloyd is still conscious enough to hear diane's whispers of contrition. "If i hurt you again, I'll die."

Jim is hit with a fine of $125,000 and a 9 month sentence in a minimum security prison. lloyd turns up in the prison yard, telling the bitter, chain-smoking jim that diane came to see him but wouldnt get out of his car. still protective of diane's potential, Jim wants to make certain that Lloyd wont be following her all the way to England. lloyd says, "i've thought about it quite a bit...i should use this time to make plans. i mean, diane and i can wait for each other." jim tells lloyd he made the right decision. "my daughter's a lot different from you. she's very successful, very talented." letting the beartrap clang shut, lloyd goes on, "and then i reconsidered. i think what i really want to do with my life...i want to be with your daughter." Jim, furious, calls him a distraction. "I'm the distraction thats going to England, sir." Jim is stewing in his orange prison jumpsuit. "You alright, sir?" asks a concerned Lloyd. "I'm incarcerated, Lloyd!" he thunders. "I dont deserve to lose my daughter over this. I dont deserve to have you as my go-between, and I can't for the life of me figure out how she could choose to champion mediocrity the way she's learned to around you." lloyd gives him a letter from diane which is bulging with expressions of her disappointment and hurt (although he tries to comfort jim by telling her how an earlier draft concluded with, "I still cant help loving you."). diane plucks up the courage to come into the prison yard. Jim clings to her, but she pulls away and, as she leaves, gives him a pen. "Write me." Ouch.

Finally, Diane, who's petrified of flying, and Lloyd are on the plane to England, waiting for takeoff. "when you hear that smoking sign go 'ding', you know everything's going to be okay," he tells her. "Nobody thought we'd do this. Nobody really thinks it'll work," she shudders. "You just described every great success story," retorts Lloyd who, by this time, could pilot the plane with his confidence. As they begin their ascent, diane and lloyd fixate on the smoking sign which, after a long moment, goes ding. Then the screen goes black.

If there was ever a film ahead of its time, it was "Hudson Hawk," but right behind it was "Say Anything". Wasnt lloyd dobler a sweeter-natured precursor of the ragamuffins from the same region who would soon rail against corporate rock whores? Wasnt his "bought, sold or processed" speech a manifesto of befuddled rejection predating the work-shy ethic of the yet-to-be-detected slacker species? wasnt diane's "i am really scared" address a blueprint for several million subsequent admissions? and wasnt Corey, with her catalogue of heartsick defiance, an early incarnation of the alt-rock chick? Of course, as ahead of its time as the moviea absolutely was in many ways, in its treatment of Jim Court, it was entirely of its era. In fact, it was more so. Other eighties teen movies punished errant parents by humbling them or smashing up their prize cars. "Say Anything" stuck its father in the joint. His stated crime was bilking the aged, but his implicit and far more heinous felonies were smothering his daughter with love and interfering in her romance with a cool due. Definitely harsh.

My only problem with the movie lies with the casting of its heroine. No disrespect to Ione Skye, but in the context of the film she's supposed to be extraordinary, a character to whom two men of completely disparate natures willingly and without question choose to devote their lives. Thats a tall order for a mere mortal and Skye doesnt quite rise to the challenge, rarely exuding qualities more exotic than niceness and concern. Is there anyone who could have done the part full justice? Lets see, lovely, brilliant and gifted (uma, uma)....a brain trapped in the body of a game show hostess (Uma, Uma)....someone so special she's celebrated on two continents (UMA, UMA). Nope, cant think of anyone. I draw a further blank trying to think of anyone who could have embodied Lloyd Dobler as unforgettably as John Cusack. Lloyd's character traits-cheerful, devoted, undirected, sensitive, kickboxing-could in the hands of another actor have curdled into a scary, overemoting stalker. Cusack makes him a one of a kind, a guy with a heart of gold, but a guy you dont feel like punching. Trying to salve some of Jim Court's heartache over his daughter's letter full of pain, Lloyd says, "Just knowing a version like that exists, knowing that for a moment, she felt that and wrote, 'I still cant help loving you', thats got to be a good thing, right?" for all that the movie is supposed to be about an ordinary boy and a special girl, nobody who saw "Say Anything" had any doubt that it was the story of an extraordinary guy."

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