BY IRENE KARRAS
Year Released: 1989
How it Fared Back Then: Despite relatively-glowing reviews from critics like Roger Ebert, Cameron Crowe’s directorial debut didn’t fare all that well at the box office. Interest in the film increased as Crowe’s career developed and as early adopters like yours truly forced friends to watch it overandoverandoveragain.
Why It’s Lasted: It’s consistently ranked in top 20 lists of best teen movies and has even been called “the greatest modern movie romance” by Entertainment Weekly, so it definitely has street cred. The characters are complex, the dialogue was snappy before snappy became de rigueur, and a good love story featuring a sympathetic protagonist never really goes out of fashion. Plus, some scenes and lines from the films have entered the cultural zeitgeist so the ongoing references don’t hurt its longevity.
- Lily Taylor just about steals the movie with her portrayal of Lloyd’s best friend Corey Flood, who has written 65 songs about her on-again/off-again boyfriend Joe and performs the angry “That’ll Never Be Me” with the requisite amount of teen pathos
- John Mahoney makes Diane’s stealing-from-old-people-white-collar criminal, over-protective dad sympathetic even as he remains hypocritical (much of parenting requires being a hypocrite, dear readers)
- Diane’s dad: “What are your plans for the future?”
Lloyd’s response: “I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything or process anything as a career. I don’t 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. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that.”
- Joan Cusack’s uncredited role as her brother’s on-screen harried sister
- It takes place in Seattle juuuuust before Starbuck’s and grunge made Seattle hip
- The post-first-time-sex scene that set unrealistically romantic and vulnerable standards for every teenager in the world since
- There was also this little scene with Lloyd holding a boom box over his head blaring “In Your Eyes”–only the most romantic song ever–by Peter Gabriel post-break-up that’s been recreated in everything from The Simpsons to Gilmore Girls to Arrested Development, and referenced in countless more. It’s become the pop cultural touch-point for any and all romantic gestures
- The soundtrack features Depeche Mode, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Replacements, Living Colour and Fishbone. Oh yeah, and that song by Peter Gabriel
Does it Hold Up? Heck yeah! The slacker-boy and high-achieving girl match-up is a fairly realistic, rather than unique, representation today. Lloyd Dobler’s impassioned anti-commercialization speech was cutting-edge for its time, but fits right in with post-Occupy philosophies and the global social, economic and political shifts occurring. The motto of the film, as told by Crowe and Cusack in the DVD commentary, “Optimism as a revolutionary act,” is even more profound in our snarky-web-commentary, irony-as-a-lifestyle world. Though the tech might be outdated, the spirit and soul of the film remain intact and relevant.
Irene Karras is a Calgary-based communications consultant and freelance writer with a fondness for 1950s Greek melodramas, 1980s coming of age movies, weird Canadian films, and, by necessity, PG movies. She blogs at misplacedmysassy.wordpress.com and tweets @irene_karras.