In this 80s classic, we explore the tangled relationship of post high-school sweethearts Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) and Diane Court (Ione Skye), an average guy and an above-average girl.
Lloyd develops a crush on Diane after running into her at the food court at the mall. On the day of their high school graduation, he makes up his mind to finally ask her out. Lloyd is an aspiring kick boxer who lives with his sister, Constance (played by Cusack’s actual sister, Joan Cusack) and nephew, while Diane lives a sheltered, firmly middle-class life with her single father and has a prestigious fellowship in England awaiting her at the end of the summer. Lloyd doesn’t let any of this deter him and when he gets a date with Diane, he deeply impresses her, to the surprise of Diane and everyone else.
What everyone thought was a pity date becomes a full-blown summer romance. Diane teaches Lloyd to be more serious. He teaches her how to relax (and how to drive). And despite Diane’s father, Jim (John Mahoney) ,being first passively and then aggressively against the relationship, the two fall deeply in love.
Unfortunately for Jim, all the time he spent judging Lloyd could have been better spent keeping his own nose clean. When her father is investigated for embezzling money from the seniors at the nursing home he runs, Diane must make a choice between the controlling father who has always given her a secure path and an uncertain future with her supportive boyfriend.
Besides a great soundtrack and awesome late 80s fashion, this film is one of my favourites because Lloyd Dobler is a fucking unicorn. First, as a boyfriend, Lloyd isn’t bothered by the fact that everyone thinks Diane is too good for him; he is proud of her achievements and supportive of her. When she tells him of her fellowship, he is ready to shift his plans to align with hers and travel across the oceans to be with her. He does not seek to make her smaller in order to feel better about himself because he’s secure in who he is. He is always kind, patient, and honest to boot. And Lloyd has dreams besides Diane. He doesn’t just want to be a kick boxer; he trains for it, consistently. While Say Anything seems at first to be a movie about a guy who is dating “out of his league”, it quickly becomes clear that while Diane has beauty and brains, it is Lloyd who is grounded in an unwavering sense of self.
Secondly, Lloyd is the best friend a girl could ask for. Lloyd’s best friends, DC (Amy Brooks) and Corey (Lili Taylor), are two straight women and he’s a straight man, yet they have the most enviable platonic relationships. They are not exs who “settled” for a friendship, or friends who want to be lovers. Lloyd cares deeply about them and even defends them in their absence. They can all talk to each other plainly about relationships without an ounce of reservation and give helpful advice without any trace of jealousy or animosity. Lloyd doesn’t see himself as being “friendzoned” because they aren’t having sex with him, nor is he is refraining from pursuing them because he finds them unattractive or biding his time until it’s “his turn”.
Not before or since have I seen such an incredible friendship between the opposite sex, free from resentment or ulterior motives, displayed on screen. Lloyd and his friends respect one another. As Lloyd attempts to seek the advice of some of the (toxic) guys that he went to school with, it becomes very clear what a profoundly positive influence his sister, DC, and Corey have had in his life. Say Anything is refreshingly unique because while Lloyd and Diane give us romance, Lloyd’s relationships with his best friends display love.
I give this one 4 stars.