Find yourself someone who looks at you the way Lloyd Dobler looks at Diane Court.
That’s what Cameron Crowe’s charming 1989 rom-com “Say Anything” leaves you with: a young couple, gazing into what might be a future together, knowing that something has ended and something might be beginning. Taking place during that tricky, free-floating summer after high-school graduation, when you feel like an adult but you’re not, “Say Anything” lives in John Cusack’s eyes, which gaze at Ione Skye like he can’t quite believe that she’s real, that she’s there next to him.
Everyone remembers “Say Anything” for the boombox scene, in which Lloyd stands in a park near Diane’s bedroom window, wordlessly holding up a cassette player blasting “In Your Eyes” (a perfect — and late — song choice), his face a mask of determination as he lets the music speak.
But, in revisiting the movie for its 30th anniversary, I remembered how many other perfect moments it has: the sweet, awkward little hug Diane gives Lloyd at the end of their first date; Lloyd joyously strumming his small nephew like a guitar; the supportive, loving friendship between Lloyd, Corey (Lili Taylor, whose rendition of “Joe Lies” is as classic as that boombox) and D.C. (Amy Brooks); Lloyd’s nervous dinner-party talk; the row of guys hanging at the Gas-n-Sip (who are there “by choice, man”).
Thirty years after its debut, “Say Anything” now looks just a bit dated — particularly Diane’s very ’80s dresses — and it’s impossible not to be distracted by supporting cast members who later became better known for other roles. (Most notable: the “Frasier” connection, with John Mahoney and Bebe Neuwirth turning up as Diane’s father and Lloyd’s ignored guidance counselor.)
But the central story line, even when watched by someone long past her own high-school graduation, remains as poignant as ever. “I wanna get hurt!” shouts Lloyd, early in the film; he wants untouchable, beautiful Diane, and all the joy and pain and confusion that love — and life — brings.