"So Let it Be Written... So Let it Be Done"

The life and times of a real, down to earth, nice guy. A relocated New Englander formerly living somewhere north of Boston, but now soaking up the bright sun of southwestern central Florida (aka The Gulf Coast). Welcome to my blog world. Please leave it as clean as it was before you came. Thanks for visiting, BTW please leave a relevant comment so I know you were here. No blog spam, please. (c) MMV-MMXV Court Jester Productions & Bamford Communications

Sunday, September 19, 2010

SNMR 8.24: "Better Off Dead"


High school senior Lane Meyer (John Cusack) is contemplating suicide because his girlfriend Beth (Amanda Wyss) has just dumped him in favor of the snobby ski team captain Roy Stalin (Aaron Dozier in his only screen appearance). Lane's next door neighbor Ricky (Dan Schneider) and his obnoxious mother (Laura Waterbury) have taken in Monique (Diane Franklin), a beautiful French foreign exchange student who claims not to speak any English and whose lifelong dream is to see Dodger Stadium. Lane is also taunted by a goofy family, a neurotic paperboy and a pair of drag race loving Japanese brothers...

I'm still cracking up just thinking about scenes from this movie - and I've seen in about a gazillion times.

Writer/director "Savage" Steve Holland's screenwriting and directorial debut no doubt was a box office failure, grossing just over $10 million in its short lived US theatrical release, according to boxofficemojo.com. Over the years this film has become a cult classic and leaves a far greater legacy than box office dollars ~ especially for those of us who were high school age at the time of the film's release almost twenty-five years ago.

Holland's incredibly witty script has a host of quotable lines, memorable scenes and just as many wonderfully quirky and lovable characters, played beautifully by a mostly unknown character actor cast, except for David Ogden Stiers (M*A*S*H's incorrigible Major Charles Winchester.) Looking back, except for Stiers, star in the making John Cusack is really the only actor who has had a notable film career since.

The screenplay takes a page from John Hughes many high school age teen angst movies also made in the 1980's. He hits all the big teen issues: relationship problems and triumphs, a weird and wacky family, goofy best friends and hated rivals, your first car, and your first (unwanted) job.

I clearly remember pitching this movie to a friend of mine in college who had never heard of it. After seeing it told me that he was in hysterics while watching and couldn't believe he missed this.

What is sorely needed to do this film justice is a nice two disc DVD release with some retrospective interviews from cast and crew. The current DVD release has no special features at all, unless you count English subtitles as such.

If you haven't watched this movie in a while or happen to be among those who aren't familiar with it, you're seriously missing out on the fun.

***** out of *****

Better Off Dead (1985, PG, 97 minutes), starring John Cusack, David Ogden Stiers, Diane Franklin, Curtis Armstrong, Amanda Wyss, Kim Darby, Dan Schneider and Aaron Dozier. Written and Directed by "Savage" Steve Holland.



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