Sunday, January 29, 2012

Scene Stealer: Say Anything

Lloyd Dobler has got to be one of the most likeable, relatable film characters of all time. Lloyd’s “basic;” at least that’s what Diane Court tells him after their first date. He’s an underachiever without definitive goals or a plan for the future. He has a crush on Diane Court. She’s beautiful, sweet, smart, and according to most people, out of his league. But they go out. They fall in love. They make love in the back seat of his car. They face challenges. They break-up. They get back together because love won’t keep them apart. It’s all very basic as far as romantic comedies go, yet it’s a rare kind of movie.

John Cusack delivers one of the best performances of his career as Lloyd Dobler – so believable, so appealing, and so earnest. He thinks and talks like a real person. He fidgets and paces nervously when he calls Diane up for a date. He’s level-headed and uniquely insightful and perceptive. He says things like, “I’m looking for a dare to be great situation.” He doesn’t spout clichés. He wears his heart on his sleeve. He knows himself and he doesn’t fake anything or ever pretend to be someone he’s not. The film’s movie poster reads: “To know Lloyd Dobler is to love him,” and it’s true. Lloyd is, quite frankly, one of the best boyfriends in film and no scene proves it more than the iconic boom box serenade.

It’s the scene in the movie that gets the most attention because it’s one of the most memorable declarations of love in film. When Diane breaks up with Lloyd out of a combined fear of commitment and her father’s disapproval, he’s absolutely heartbroken. Lloyd does everything to win Diane back, and in the grandest, most romantic of gestures, he stands outside her bedroom window holding a boom box over his head as “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel plays. It’s the song that played on the radio after their first time in Lloyd’s car. The look of resolute determination on Lloyd’s face as he hoists the boom box higher overhead, feet planted firmly on that spot outside Diane’s window, defiantly pleading with her to take him back, has become one of the most enduring and iconic images in 80s film.


  1. Being a lover of SAY ANYTHING, I had to read this.

    Great piece JBT - you certainly captured who Loyd was and is - along with his relentless dedication to keep the one he loves from ever getting away.

  2. Next to Almost Famous, this is my favorite film by Cameron Crowe. I loved the humor of it and Lloyd Dobler. He wasn't like any other character at that time.

    I should note that the music that was originally played in the boom box when it was shot was some Fishbone song. Good thing Crowe chose something much more appropriate.

  3. I love 'Say Anything'. I saw this last year and I had to see this since I love Jerry Maguire. You could immediately sense the resemblance of the leading man character from Crowe's scripts, although Maguire was an ambitious workaholic man.

  4. @Sam Fragoso - Thanks for the kind words. 'Say Anything' is such a fantastic film and the character of Lloyd Dobler is one of my absolute favourites.

    @thevoid99 - 'Almost Famous' and 'Say Anything' are a near tie for me - they're both such great Crowe films.

    Yes, I know about the original plan to use the Fishbone song. Like you, I think Crowe's choice to go with Peter Gabriel was the right move. Part of the reason that scene is so powerful is because of 'In Your Eyess.'

    @Andina - 'Jerry Maguire' is another great Cameron Crowe film. I think Lloyd and Jerry are very different characters, but both are written very well and fully developed, and both are so endearing in very special ways.

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  6. @thevoid99 and JBT - They originally were going to use another song because Gabriel was refusing to let In Your Eyes be used. After the umpteenth time of them contacting him for the rights, they finally found out that he had somehow confused their movie for a differnt movie about killers that was filming at the the same time. When Gabriel realized his mistake, he let them use the song. So, persistence pays off.

  7. I completely adore Lloyd Dobler. Awhile back French Toast Sunday did a list on our podcast on movie characters we'd want to date and he was my #1. You pretty much summed up exactly why he made my top spot!

  8. @Chip Lary - I'm glad Crowe persisted and Gabriel acquiesced. I can't imagine another song fitting that scene better than 'In Your Eyes.'

    @Jess - cool podcast topic, and great #1! Lloyd Dobler will always be one of my favourite male characters.


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