Tag Archives: Eric Stoltz

Say Anything (1989)

say anything

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: Geek dates honors student.

Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) is a classic underachiever living with his sister Constance (Joan Cusack) and no real idea what he wants to do with his life after graduation. He has a crush on Diane Court (Ione Skye) who is a valedictorian. Lloyd manages to ask her out, but finds that she is set to go to England in the fall on a scholarship. Her father (John Mahoney) feels that Diane can do better and tries to convince her to dump him, but it turns out he has some serious problems of his own.

The film is a refreshing change of pace from most Hollywood romances that tend to portray relationships in too much of a shallow way. Here you see things build slowly and are full of all the awkward moments and obstacles that come into play with any blossoming relationship. The two don’t just jump into the sack right away either. In fact after their first date they don’t even kiss, but instead share a nice little hug, which I really liked.

Both characters are likable, but in opposite ways and I enjoyed how the film cuts back and forth between the two during the beginning and shows the viewer just how different their personalities and lifestyles are. Skye has a highly appealing face and the fact that she is not some partying ditz, but instead a studious student who even enjoys working with old folks at a retirement home makes her all the more interesting. Cusack’s inability to decide on a career path is quite relatable and it is nice seeing him share some scenes with his real-life sister, who strangely appears unbilled.

The humor is subtle, but amusing. I loved the part where Diane accepts a date with Lloyd after he calls her up and then when she hangs up the phone she takes out her yearbook to see what he looks like. The best moment though is where Lloyd is getting advice about women from his guy friends only to turn around and ask them why if they know so much about women are they sitting on a street corner all alone on a Saturday night.

The talented Lili Taylor appears in an early role as Lloyd’s friend and famous model-turned-actress Lois Chiles can be seen briefly as Diane’s mother. I was a bit shocked to see Eric Stoltz in such a small and insignificant role that had only a few lines as he was at the time only four years removed from his starring role in Mask.

The only complaint that I have about this otherwise gentle slice-of-life flick is the secondary story thread concerning Diane’s father who gets into trouble for embezzling money from the senior citizens at the retirement home that he runs, which when compared to the romantic angle seemed very jarring and out-of-sync. In a way it kind of tarnishes the coming-of-age quality of the story and I felt the film would’ve have been more successful had this part been left out completely. I also wasn’t quite sure what the meaning was for the title or how it had anything to do with the story.

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: April 14, 1989

Runtime: 1Hour 40Minutes

Rated PG-13

Director: Cameron Crowe

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Available: VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, Netflix streaming

Surf II (1984)

surf 22

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Surfers turn into zombies.

When compared to other low grade teen comedies of the 80’s this one fares a bit better. The story is about a nerd (Eddie Deezen) who decides to take revenge on all the ‘cool’ surfers by forcing them to drink a cola that will turn them into zombies.

The idea of mixing the crude humor of the 80’s with the zany surfer themed films of the 60’s is not a bad one. The film initially avoids the sterility that the other teen comedies usually have. The first fifteen minutes are fresh and inventive and there’s even a chuckle or two. It’s nice how it mixes old B-list actors with up and coming young stars like Eric Stoltz, Corinne Bohrer, and the late and underappreciated Tom Villard. The film also shows definite venom towards the surfers and some of which is accurate while taking some fun shots at the adults particularly two of the dads of the surfers who seem very much like what happens when ‘surfer dudes’ have to grow up and actually start earning a living. There is also a garbage eating contest between one of the zombies and a fat guy that has to set some sort of gross out precedent.

The problem comes with the fact that the story has no direction and eventually loses all momentum. There are too many absurd elements thrown in that have no connection to the main plot. The film comes off as derivative and convoluted and the manufactured calamity filled finale is incoherent.

Star Deezen looks and acts so much like a nerd you wonder if he was bred in some sort of laboratory. It is almost hard to believe how scrawny his arms are. Initially it is kind of funny and diverting to hear him say such megalomaniac statements with his high pitched voice, but his act is one-dimensional and eventually becomes annoying. Lyle Waggoner is another bad actor whose only claim to fame is his chiseled good looks. However, his bumbling police sergeant character Chief Boyardee is funny and he does get the film’s best line, which he says to a group of mouthy teens. “If I need any shit out of you kids I’ll squeeze your heads.” Ron Palillo who is best known for playing Horshak on ‘Welcome Back Kotter’ plays his deputy named Lt. Underwear and even sports gray hair! Cleavon Little though is wasted in a meaningless role of ‘Daddy-O’.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: January 14, 1984

Runtime: 1Hour 31Minutes

Rated R

Director: Randall M. Badat

Studio: International Film Marketing

Available: VHS