I can't say that this is number one on my list of romantic comedies or high school movies, but I think it might have made the list. The main plot was somehow very realistic (at least to me) and I thought that the two characters relationship was believable. The best part was how well-written the support characters were - they felt familiar, like people I knew, and I really got a kick out of them.
The movie is about Diane, the smart valedictorian of her class. She lives with her dad, who is her best friend. She's beautiful, but spends all her time studying and not really socializing. Lloyd is a kind of doofy, sweet guy who wants to date her, but he's very different from her. He has no real goals in his life - he thinks kick boxing, the sport of the future, might be a good career choice. Of course, there are struggles are Diane and Lloyd become involved, mostly because her father disapproves. Later in the film, though, Diane begins to learn that her father isn't the honest man that she always thought he was. Probably you guys know how this ends - happily, of course.
I usually am all anti-happy endings, but I thought it worked well here. The whole story just impressed me so much that I was just happy everything worked out for the characters. It's such an honest story of growing up. We've all struggled with how to cope with our parents expectations of us, and our expectations of them. I think that for many people, it's hard to finally break away and follow your own path. For others, it's hard to realize that your parents are not perfect. I liked that it was very realistic and relateable that Diane experiences both of these things in the film. It's not just a "romantic comedy" - it's also a really great movie about growing up, going out on your own, becoming your own person. So many movies for high schoolers focus on boozing and sexing, which is fine. But it's rare to find a movie that you might think "I remember feeling that way" - or that high schoolers might think, "I'm not a freak because I feel this way."
Of course, much of the focus is on the romance aspect. Even that is somewhat realistic. It's not like some weird fantasy guy, or two characters who do something cliche like hate each other but then realize they were in love all along. People do date partners who are totally different from them, and not just different in social status or something. I liked that Lloyd and Diane were just different people, with different interests and goals, and still managed to have a pretty normal relationship. It felt like a real relationship that people of any age could relate to, and I really appreciated that.
I also really loved how funny it was. It was great that the supporting characters were so well-written. I laughed so hard during so many parts of the party scene at the beginning. It felt so fresh and exciting to see that even just the people populating a house party had some amount of depth. They all felt like people I knew in high school, and didn't seem...well, cliche. They all felt like they had a ton of personality, but never distracted me from the main characters, either. It just felt like high school, and I had a lot of fun watching it!
I really liked this movie. It seems rare to see a romantic comedy that feels like it takes place on our plane, let alone a teen romance. The comedy was all from good writing, instead of just dick jokes and shock value. Say Anything is funny to me because it reminded me of my own experiences, because I could relate to it and knew the type of people it was teasing. It's not that I don't like raunchy humor - I like plenty of recent comedies. I just like this one because the humor was so different, and it took a lot of talent to write this screenplay. That's why it's masterful - not just because the romance plot worked for me (for once), but because it took a lot of skill to create a realistic romance film, that was funny but still dealt with issues that teens really go through. If you've never seen this movie, I recommend it (and I'm usually so cynical!). If you have seen it already, I imagine it would be so fun to go back to it. Let me know if you check it out!
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Ebert's Great Movie Essay on Say Anything
Buy it on Amazon