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Fox Home Entertainment presents
Say Anything: SE (1989)

"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."
- Lloyd Dobbler (John Cusack)

Review By: Dan Heaton  
Published: March 04, 2002

Stars: John Cusack, Ione Skye, John Mahoney
Other Stars: Joan Cusack, Lili Taylor, Eric Stoltz, Philip Baker Hall, Loren Dean
Director: Cameron Crowe

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for (language and adult situations)
Run Time: 01h:40m:11s
Release Date: March 05, 2002
UPC: 024543024521
Genre: romantic comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A AA-A- A

DVD Review

In a scene reminiscent of countless high school romances, Lloyd Dobbler (John Cusack) has decided to call beautiful class valedictorian Diane Court (Ione Skye) and ask her for a date. His friends remain extremely skeptical, but he takes the chance with surprising optimism. Unfortunately, her father (John Mahoney, Frazier) answers the phone and notes the message for the nervous young man. Still fighting tremendous anxiety, Lloyd blurts out "She's pretty great, isn't she?" This peculiar question could elicit a wide array of responses from Mr. Court, including anger or bewilderment. Instead, he ponders the thought for a moment, and a smile crosses his face in sparkling realization. It is this type of elegance that raises Say Anything far above the usual teen movie and leads to the resounding success of this magical story. Cameron Crowe (Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous) confidently creates realistic individuals who waver from the typical mold and have a life of their own. Unlike the one-dimensional caricatures that often appear in the movies, his subjects embody the diverse traits that make us human beings: love stories about young people can be complex without losing their excitement in Crowe's world. Diane may be the "class brain," but she is also an attractive, personable girl with strong thoughts and values. Lloyd may not stem from her social structure, but they have more in common than their backgrounds might indicate. Caught in the middle is James Court—Diane's loving father—an ambitious fellow with high hopes for his daughter that do not involve Lloyd. The intricate relationships in this story never feel forced or false, and everyone has more lurking beneath the surface (good and bad) than is originally apparent. This film begins at high-school graduation with Diane giving a commencement speech to her class about the direction of their future. Surprisingly, this amazing and talented young woman places her own fears on the table in front of the entire assembly without flinching. This immediately removes us from categorizing Diane as a highbrow, arrogant woman. When she finally speaks to Lloyd on the phone, he slowly charms her with his down-to-earth sincerity about the date. This leads to the classic party that ranks as one of my favorite scenes. This event retains its wild and youthful nature without resorting to the over-the-top debauchery of the American Pie films. Hosted by a 22-year-old guy dressed as a rooster (Eric Stoltz), this scene introduces numerous brief, memorable characters that add energy to the primary story. Jeremy Piven (P.C.U.) plays the crazy party animal wonderfully with a bit too much testosterone ("You must chill!"). There's also the drunk kid, depressed about his botched Simply Red-style hair cut, and the slightly ditzy blonde who constantly makes quote marks with her hands while speaking. Although the most prominent roles belong to Ione Skye and John Cusack, an intriguing collection of supporting characters really bring this tale to another level. John Mahoney nearly steals the movie from the leads with a remarkably intricate performance. It's obvious that John Court truly loves his daughter, but he also manipulates her to further his own ambitions. This attribute makes it nearly impossible to admire him, but his motives are easily understandable. Lili Taylor also shines as Lloyd's best friend Corey—a songwriter obsessed with Joe (Loren Dean), her former love. She's written countless painful songs about him with silly, tortured lyrics like "Joe lies, Joe lies, Joe lies, when he cries." Corey also has some fine moments with Lloyd, and their friendship provides a nice counterpoint to his relationship with Diane. In the unforgiving role of Joe, Dean exudes just the right level of cool, combined with a simple outlook on the world. He also fronts the gang in the classic gas station scene, where Lloyd once again realizes that he's not just another "guy." Music always plays a predominant role in supplementing the emotions in Crowe's films, and this is no exception. It is difficult to recall this tale without immediately remembering the image of Lloyd holding the boombox above his head outside of Diane's window. Through the lyrics and context of Peter Gabriel's In Your Eyes, Crowe has Lloyd express so much without uttering a word. This soundtrack also contains effective numbers by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Fishbone, and The Replacements, which perfectly mesh with the images presented. Say Anything succeeds on so many different levels that reveal themselves upon repeated viewings. We identify foremost with the love story between the leads and the family relationship between Diane and her father. However, Crowe also draws us in with universal moments about the fear related to starting a new life and the uncertainty about the future. Lloyd may not have a definite career path (besides kickboxing), but he realizes quickly that his primary goal is to stay with Diane. This may draw laughter and scorn from her father and other adults, but it's a truer goal that many other "reputable" objectives. Audiences from all walks of life can understand their motivations, and this makes their ultimate fate even more satisfying.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Although this film is only 13 years old, it is not a surprise to notice significant grain on releases from this era. Luckily, this 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer contains only a few moments that waver from impressive clarity. The picture sparkles with brightness and offers nearly pristine images, especially during the daytime shots. The locations in a majority of the scenes are fairly simplistic, so there are limitations placed on the "awe" factor here. Still, this transfer is top-notch and improves remarkably over the often-seen television version.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes
PCMEnglish, Frenchyes


Audio Transfer Review: Featuring a soundtrack that includes Peter Gabriel, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Fishbone, Say Anything benefits immensely from this impressive 5.1-channel transfer. The songs spring wonderfully from all of the speakers, and this helps to create the proper emotional tone for each scene. Much of this story revolves around clever dialogue, and the words are easily understandable throughout this presentation. The only minor hindrance of this track is that it could have used a bit more power. The audio moves nicely through the soundfield and has plenty of complexity, but a little more force would have made it even better.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
2 Original Trailer(s)
8 TV Spots/Teasers
10 Deleted Scenes
1 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Cameron Crowe, Ione Skye, and John Cusack (with introduction)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual
Layers Switch: 01h:27m:42s

Extra Extras:
  1. Cameron Crowe personal photo gallery
  2. Five alternate scenes
  3. 13 extended scenes
Extras Review: 20th Century Fox has given Say Anything the excellent treatment it deserves with this impressive special edition. The highlight is an enjoyable feature-length commentary from Cameron Crowe, John Cusack, and Ione Skye. Before the film even starts, they spend 20 minutes discussing the story's origins and their reasons for choosing this project. While a "slide show" of photos appears on the screen, all three of them give plenty of information about their roles. Crowe is his usual down-to-earth self, and he shares a nice chemistry with the two leads. It's apparent after only a few moments that all three of them really like each other, and this adds to the entertainment value of the discussion. This is my first experience with an introduction of this type, and it works wonders in making the commentary even more effective. Instead of spending the first 20 minutes of the movie talking about its background, they're able to jump right into the scenes when it starts. During the film proper, they continue to provide interesting material while staying fun and laid-back. Cusack is especially well-spoken and seems to possess little of the arrogance that often exists in his peers. It's a surprise to learn that he initially rejected the role because he was tired of playing high school characters. Skye sounds as young as ever, and she also retains a high respect for this classic movie. Having all three together in one room is a major bonus because they play off each other wonderfully. There is a decent amount of plot summary, but it remains interesting due to their excitement about the production. Even without the commentary, this disc would be worthwhile for its incredible amount of additional footage. Separated into three sections, this area fails to offer anything truly surprising, but it does provide a more extensive look at the characters. First, there are five alternate scenes that all take place during the final act. Three of them concern the infamous boombox scene, and the noteworthy item is the inclusion of songs from Elvis Costello and Fishbone instead of Peter Gabriel. More interesting is the collection of 10 deleted scenes, which run for about 13 minutes. An intriguing one shows James Court giving a proposal in court to expand his business. John Mahoney is wonderful here and deftly shows the contradictions within this character. Several scenes have Lloyd helping other elderly residents at the nursing home. Finally, we have a large group of 13 extended scenes that widen the scope of the movie. While all of these cuts were necessary for pacing purposes, this material showcases both impressive acting and intriguing character development. We see priceless moments with Diane's mom, Ray (the boyfriend), Mike from the party, and Eric Stoltz's rooster. This disc also contains two lengthy theatrical trailers and eight brief televsion commercials. The previews follow the usual trend of showing too many of the key scenes and revealing plot points. Each one runs for over two minutes, and this duration does not seem necessary to sell this picture. One of them utilizes the theme of hokey titles, while the other lets the music carry the events. The television spots do an impressive job featuring the witty dialogue, and are better than many I've seen on DVD releases. John Cusack obviously remains at the forefront of each entry. The remaining supplements are an almost worthless featurette and small collection of photos from Crowe. The seven-minute promotional piece includes groan-inducing narration and plenty of scenes from the film. There are a few good insights provided by the director and cast, but they occur rarely. The photo gallery has only seven shots, mostly of John Mahoney. Considering the wealth of pictures shown during the commentary introduction, it's odd that most of them were not included in this collection.

Extras Grade: A

 

Final Comments

In his directorial debut, Cameron Crowe crafts a picture that will last through generations due to its intelligence and wit. Throughout his career, he has continued to improve his directorial skills while retaining the sincere emotions of his first picture. Say Anything provides an entertaining experience, revealing complicated thoughts and humanity within the minds of high schoolers. Its considerable success once again proves that the public will accept and cherish smart material about young people if Hollywood is willing to give it a chance.

 


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