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Film: Say Anything

"I am looking for a dare to be great situation."
Lloyd Dobler

Say Anything is a 1989 High School romance starring John Cusack and Ione Skye. Cusack plays Lloyd Dobler, an unambitious C student who pursues valedictorian Diane Court after graduation. They fall in love, but unfortunately, Mr. Court (played by John Mahoney) doesn't approve of this slacker in his perfect daughter's life.

AFI named this one of the Top 100 romantic movies of the last hundred years, and Roger Ebert considered it the greatest romantic movie made since 1980. There's a well-known scene from this film where Dobler holds a boombox playing Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" over his head. Contrary to what you may have heard, this does not win her back, but that scene has become almost iconic. Also, there's some stuff about the IRS investigating Mr. Court for embezzlement.

Not to be confused with the emo band of the same name.


This film provides examples of:

  • Auto Erotica: Lloyd and Diane consummate their relationship in the back seat of Lloyd's car. Lloyd is more nervous than Diane is.
  • Brick Joke: Diane's fear of flying comes back in the end of the film.
  • Broken Pedestal: Diane learns some unpleasant truths about her father.
  • Call Back: The pen.
    • Also the boombox scene. The song Lloyd plays is the same one that was on the radio when they became lovers.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Averted. Kickboxing star Don "The Dragon" Wilson is an idol of Lloyd, yet he plays Lloyd's sparring partner at the karate gym. Possibly justified to the low status of kickboxing then.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Mr. Court.
    "I'M INCARCERATED, LLOYD!"
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Lloyd's detailed explanation of what he doesn't want in a career.
    Lloyd: I don't want to buy anything, sell anything, or process anything as a career. I don't want to buy anything sold or processed, or sell anything bought or processed, or process anything bought or sold... or processed."
  • Establishing Character Moment: see above.
  • Meaningful Name: The film's called Say Anything because Diane's dad insists that she tell him everything. It adds to the Dramatic Irony when you realize at the film's end how he wasn't completely honest with his daughter.
  • Military Brat: Lloyd. It seems his father is stationed in Germany.
  • Missing Mom/Disappeared Dad: Lloyd's parents are spending time in Germany, and are only mentioned in passing. Lloyd doesn't even refer to his father as "dad". The one time he mentions him, Lloyd calls his father "The Colonel".
    • Also, Diane's mom, after the divorce. She appears in one scene.
  • Motor Mouth: Lloyd, when nervous. Which, given the nature of the film, is basically all the time.
  • Nice Guy: Lloyd. He spends all night driving some drunk kid home while said drunk kid tries to remember where his house is.
  • Nobody Thinks It Will Work: Trope Namer.
  • Obsession Song: Corey's songs about Joe. The content of the songs is not quite evidence that they're obsessive, but the fact that she wrote more than five dozen of them is hard to get around.
    Corey: I wrote 63 songs this year; they're all about Joe, and I'm going to play every single one of them tonight.
  • Opposites Attract: Golden girl Diane and slacker Lloyd? Ha!
  • Overprotective Dad: And how.
  • Peerless Love Interest: Diane Court. Since she's beautiful and the valedictorian, everyone assumes that she's completely unapproachable. When Lloyd Dobler asks her out and she accepts, everyone is astonished—not least of all Diane (who at first seems to regret the idea) and Lloyd too for that matter.
    Mike Cameron: "I don't know you very well, you know, but I wanted to ask you... how'd you get Diane Court to go out with you?"
    Lloyd Dobler: "I called her up."
    Mike Cameron: "But how come it worked? I mean, like, what are you?"
    Lloyd Dobler: "I'm Lloyd Dobler."
    Mike Cameron: "This is great! This gives me hope! Thanks!"
  • Redemption in the Rain
  • Satellite Love Interest: discussed. What Lloyd really wants to do for a living is be one for Diane, because 1) he's good at it and 2) she pretty clearly needs it. (And 3) she could probably serve as an effective breadwinner, push come to shove.) Mr. Court sees this as evidence that Lloyd isn't good enough for her.
  • Serenade Your Lover: the dominant example of the trope in public consciousness.
  • Stalking Is Love: Lloyd's pursuit of Diane, and specifically the boombox scene, can be seen as this. On the other hand, Lloyd does finally accept the end of the relationship after it fails.
  • Stealing from the Till: Diane's dad is a thief who steals from the people he's supposed to take care of.
  • Suspicious Spending: The IRS agent gives a very useful primer on how to spot it.
  • Title Drop: "You know you can say anything to me." -Mr. Court.
  • Those Two Guys: Corey, D.C. and Rebecca, Lloyd's three female friends.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: The Signature Scene of Lloyd holding a boombox over his head might not have the same impact today if he were holding an iPod instead. Then again, a 21st-century Lloyd would be holding up some kind of iPod player that looks something like a boombox.
  • Uptown Girl: Fancy, rich, stylishly dressed Diane Court.
  • Virgin Vision: Lloyd's friends can tell instantly after Lloyd and Diane do the deed. Lloyd will only say "I admit nothing." (then again, the huge shiteating grin on his face is a dead giveaway).
  • Woman in White: Diane has a tendency to wear white dresses.


Saturday Night FeverRoger Ebert Great Movies ListScarface (1983)
Santa SangreFilms of the 1980sSee No Evil, Hear No Evil

alternative title(s): Say Anything
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