Better Off Dead is a 1985 comedy film directed by Savage Steve Holland and starring John Cusack.After being dumped by his utterly-unfaithful girlfriend, luckless teen Lane Meyer makes several futile attempts to kill himself, while wandering in and out of a series of encounters with the residents... inmates of his bizarre hometown. These include his super-genius younger brother Badger; his severely-underachieving best friend Charles; a pair of Korean car-racing enthusiasts, the one who speaks English having learned it by listening to Howard Cosell; and one very determined paper-boy. Lane's life finally begins to turn around when he meets Monique, a comely French exchange student who has been sentenced to live with Lane's grotesque neighbors.Probably doesn't quite make it to classic status, especially the ending which veers off into painfully straight teen-movie win-the-athletic-competition territory, but mentioning this film or quoting from it is very likely to bring a smile to the face of Tropers of a certain age. It does have a pretty strong cult following due to the fact that aside from that ending, it has a different sense of humor than most 80's teen comedies and seems far less dated than other films of its type.
The Ace: Everyone other than Lane seems to have incredible skill at doing things. Highlighted by Lane's younger brother, who uses his book knowledge to pick up trashy women and build a launchable space shuttle in the attic.
Lane: My little brother got his arm stuck in the microwave. So my mom had to take him to the hospital. My grandma dropped acid this morning, and she freaked out. She hijacked a busload of... penguins. So it's sort of a family crisis. Bye!
Instant Expert: "Go that way, really fast. If something gets in your way, turn."
Insult Backfire: Played with when Stalin insults Lane and Charles at one point during the New Years dance; Lane is insulted, but Charles finds it hilarious, even interrupting Stalin's dance with Beth because he's still laughing.
Product Placement: A very prominent flag for The North Face is shown directly above Lane's head while in the ski shop, though averted in another scene with a equally-prominent Coke can that is carefully oriented so that the viewer can't see the logo.
Reverse Harem: Chris Cummins is a cheerleader who dates the basketball team. The entire team.