A Look Back: Teen Witch

If movies were (literally) cheese, “Teen Witch” would be a mammoth hunk of Velveeta. It’s slightly less cheesy than “The Worst Witch,” another eighties movie about a young girl discovering that she possesses superpowers, but both feature over-the-top musical numbers, and in “TW’s” case, ends with a prom, as most teen movies seem required to do, where everyone performs as if they’re professional dancers. It was the kind of movie, I would rent from my local video store, back in that era, when all my first choices were gone, and none of the usual fallbacks appeared to be in either. But as an adult, I still find it adorable, although the rappers, who act like a kind of Greek chorus throughout the movie, still make me wonder what the people who made this movie were thinking.

“Teen Witch,” stars Robyn Lively who plays Louise Miller (ever notice how unpopular protagonists always get stuck with dweeby names?), who longs to be seen as more than a study buddy to studly Brad, the BMOC, (Dan Gauthier), but things look bleak on that front until she has a birthday and discovers that she is one in a long line of bona fide witches and now has magical powers. Which she promptly puts to use to get even with a potential date rapist, turn her bratty little brother (Joshua Miller) into a dog, enchant her best friend into a temporary rapper so she can catch eye of the head of the aforementioned rapping trio, and use voodoo (she’s multi-talented) on her teacher who had previously humiliated her. And yes, she becomes the most popular girl in school. We don’t get to see her parents’ reaction to her rather shallow use of her powers, but they do notice their son is better behaved and decide to chalk it up (really) to drugs. In this case, just say yes.

Robyn’s mentor is played by Zelda Rubinstein who has long ago come to terms that she needs to use magic to get people to like her, but of course, eventually, Robyn starts having moral qualms about whether it’s right to enchant Dan – and she eventually, makes an important decision at the prom which leaves her both with the dream guy and her self-respect intact. Looking back, I still can’t figure out why the movie makers thought this film would be improved by adding some of the musical numbers they did, but I guess it doesn’t really matter, if everyone lives happily ever after in the end.

Still Alice: An Abridged Script

FADE IN

INT. A RESTAURANT

JULIANNE MOORE is celebrating her birthday amid a happy circle of family – but she has a worrisome SECRET.

ALEC BALDWIN
(furrows brow, sets it on Automatic, does not change for entire movie)
Honey, it’s so wonderful that we’re all happily here being happy together. Despite my perpetually concerned look I, too, am happy. Let’s try really hard not to OD on happiness, so we can be happy for the rest of our lives.

JULIANNE MOORE
(after a beat)
Yes, dear. And it’s also great that we have three highly photogenic, smart and gifted children. Roll call, please.

KATE BOSWORTH
I’m pregnant! With twins by my gorgeous, uber-supportive husband.

HUNTER PARRISH
I’m a budding doctor. Also handsome enough to be a leading man.

KRISTEN STEWART
I’m the family black sheep – a term here, which means beautiful, feisty, and artistic. Right now, I’m the family’s biggest concern because I’m skipping college in order to try to become an actress. Of course, this means I won’t be a barista with debts, just a barista if it doesn’t work out, so it’s totally a sound decision.

JULIANNE MOORE
(after several beats)
We’ll argue about that later, honey. And I’m an accomplished, brilliant Ivy League professor, who has it all. Are you jealous yet?

HUBRIS
(snickers under breath in corner)

INT. A DOCTOR’S OFFICE

NEUROLOGIST
“OK, JULIANNE, after what you told me about experiencing recent memory loss, I’m going to perform a mental status exam. Also remember the name JOHN BLACK, too because I’ll ask you it later on.”

JULIANNE MOORE
No problem.

HUBRIS
(snickers a little louder; is ignored)

NEUROLOGIST
Where are we?

JULIANNE MOORE
In an Oscar-bait movie.  Just kidding!   In a doctor’s office.

NEUROLOGIST
Please spell supercallifragilistic.

JULIANNE DOES.

NEUROLOGIST
Now spell it backward.

JULIANNE DOES

NEUROLOGIST
Now, in the eponymous song, what comes directly after that word?

JULIANNE MOORE
Expeealadocious.

NEUROLOGIST
Exactly. Now what was that name I asked you to remember a few minutes ago?

JULIANNE BLANKS.

NEUROLOGIST
This is very worrying. You should not be experiencing such memory loss at age 50.

AUDIENCE MEMBERS PRONE to HYPOCHONDRIA
(start worrying about whether they may have Alzheimer’s, regardless of age)

NEUROLOGIST
I’m going to run some more tests. Next appointment, bring in a family member or friend, OK?

JULIANNE MOORE
If you insist.

SOME TIME LATER –

INT. BEDROOM

JULIANNE MOORE
Honey, I think I may have Alzheimer’s. I’ve been forgetting people’s names, need to check my phone to see my schedule, and sometimes think it’s Friday when it’s really Thursday.

ALEC BALDWIN
You’re joking, right? Everyone does those things. You’re a brilliant, accomplished professor, it’s normal to have a few lapses here and there.

JULIANNE MOORE
Yes, but I got LOST JOGGING ON CAMPUS. That’s different from forgetting the milk at the store, dear.

ALEC BALDWIN
Well, I’ll go into the doctor’s office with you, but I don’t think it’s anything to worry about.

HUBRIS
(snickers audibly)

INT. DOCTOR’S OFFICE

NEUROLOGIST
JULIANNE, it looks like you have Alzheimer’s. Even though you’re relatively young, this is still possible.

ALEC BALDWIN
This is ridiculous. This is just temporary because she’s been so busy.

NEUROLOGIST
It’s likely JULIANNE’s estranged, alcoholic FATHER also had it before he died. It’s GENETIC, which means your children may want to get tested. Especially, your PREGNANT daughter.

ALEC BALDWIN
Well, don’t hold back, okay, just hit us with all the bad news at once.

NEUROLOGIST
Since you insist, I might as well add, JULIANNE, that although you’ve been doing a fine job fooling other people by camouflaging your memory lapses, with charm, self-deprecation and humor, I wasn’t fooled for a second. This has been going for much longer than you’ve been letting on to anyone.

JULIANNE goes home and makes elaborate PREPARATIONS to KILL HERSELF when she can NO LONGER REMEMBER ANSWERS to questions posed by her COMPUTER which raises INTERESTING QUESTIONS about the use of TECHNOLOGY to help people DIE with DIGNITY, or would, if it wasn’t handled later on in a TOTALLY ANTICLIMATIC MANNER.

EXT. PUBLIC STREET
PHONE RINGS

JULIANNE MOORE
Hello? Oh, hi, KATE. You’ve gotten the test results, and you’re POSITIVE, but you’re going to have the kids anyway? Are you…

KATE BOSWORTH
We won’t go there. Oh, and HUNTER is negative, and KRISTEN has chosen not to get tested. All of which would make GREAT FOOD for DEBATE, but is NEVER MENTIONED AGAIN.

By not brushing her hair, foregoing makeup and also by STELLAR ACTING, JULIANNE gives a poignant portrayal of a woman grappling with ALZHEIMER’S.

INT. HOME

ALEC BALDWIN
Where have you been?  It’s been ages, and I’ve been seriously worried.

JULIANNE MOORE
At PINKBERRY’s having product placement yogurt.

ALEC BALDWIN
We were supposed to have dinner with VERY IMPORTANT COLLEAGUES.

JULIANNE MOORE
Alzheimer’s, dear.

ALEC BALDWIN
(look of patient concern wobbles slightly, but holds)

JULIANNE MOORE
There’s got to be a silver lining here. I know, I’ll blackmail KRISTEN into going to college!

She TRIES this. It DOES NOT WORK. But she gets points for trying.

INT. HOME A FEW MONTHS LATER PRESUMABLY

ALEC BALDWIN
I got a NEW POSITION that’s crucial to my career progression, which requires that we move a million gazillion miles away. What do you think?

JULIANNE MOORE
What a supportive thing to do your suffering wife.

(pauses)
That was sarcasm, not Alzheimer’s.

ALEC BALDWIN
Of course, if one of our CHILDREN decides to pick up the slack and be your caregiver, we could STAY.

KATE BOSWORTH
Don’t look at me, I just delivered twins.

JULIANNE MOORE
I seem to recall that I have a son, too?

ALEC BALDWIN
Yes, but either he’s off doing doctor stuff or the script forgot about him.

KRISTEN STEWART
Oh, all right. I guess it’s up to me to rise to the occasion and DISPLAY COMPASSION and MATURITY.

She DOES.

INT. HOME

KRISTEN STEWART
Even though this must really suck for you, MOM, at least we can still enjoy the simple pleasures in life. Like Pinkberry’s yogurt.

JULIANNE MOORE
(after a few beats)
And love.

KRISTEN STEWART
You are so right. Love will see us through.

On this UPLIFTING NOTE, the movie ENDS.

A Look Back: “Big”

I imagine after “Big” came out in 1988, FAO Schwarz had to put up a sign instructing patrons who wanted to imitate the dance Tom Hanks and his boss do on the walkable floor keyboard, “No ‘Chopsticks.'”  Kind of like the sign in the guitar shop in “Wayne’s World,” that said, “No ‘Stairway to Heaven.'”  In the movie  “Big,” it takes them only a few seconds to coordinate their moves and perform an impromptu rendition of “Chopsticks,” although I’m sure it took them far longer to get it down pat in real life.

There were several movies in the eighties (“18 Again,” “Vice Versa”) in which the main character switches places and/or gets to experience becoming a grownup.  “!8 Again” was dragged out of mothballs and remade starring Zak Efron, while “The Parent Trap,” which originally featured Hayley Mills got an update with Lindsay Lohan playing the spunky, scheming identical twins who try to reunite their divorced parents.  And Lohan also did another remake of a Disney classic, “Freaky Friday,” in which mom and daughter switch places.  “As a father, you’re swell,” says the original Annabelle, played by young Jodie Foster, as she contemplates her new status, “but as a husband, you’re more like a traffic cop.”

The one problem I’ve always had with movies where the main character wakes up in the morning in a dramatically different body is how long they take to figure it out.  In Tom Hanks’ case in “Big,” he goes from a preteen to a fully grown man, but it takes him a surprising amount of time to grasp this.  Now this would be extremely frightening, but I think a even glance down at your arms when you’re in bed would clue you in.  Also, the fact that your sleepwear no longer fits.  Anyway….

Tom Hanks gets his wish to become big by making a wish on a mysterious gypsy machine, but of course, being an adult is hardly a panacea for his current childish problems, and he winds up having to flee his house when his mom thinks that he’s kidnapped her son.  So Tom finds his best friend (still a kid), (Jared Rushton) who helps him get an apartment and a job at toy company.  He’s’ thrilled to get a paycheck, and winds up bonding with his boss through the FAO Schwarz scene (in which Tom’s shopping for toys – for himself).  The boss is also impressed when Tom suggests changes to a Transformer-like toy to make it less boring, and his stock soars.  Soon he’s playing racquetball with a colleague (John Heard), who’s dating the beautiful Elizabeth Perkins, who soon begins to find Tom’s open enthusiasm and naïveté charming.   She even agrees to “sleep over” at Tom’s fancy new man cave, which he’s equipped with all sorts of toys and gadgets, not to mention a bunk bed.  The movie sidesteps whether or not they actually have sex, which is wise because that raises questions that aren’t in sync with the film’s tone.  (There’s a similar scene in “13 Going on 30” in which Jennifer Garner’s boyfriend starts to strip to “Ice Ice Baby,” and it cuts to an indignant Jennifer informing her girlfriend the next day, “He didn’t have any toys at all!”)

Tom manages to convince his parents that he’s been kidnapped but will return home – after he’s found the fortune telling machine and made another wish to be a kid.   Surprisingly, he realizes that he’s not really keen on being an adult, with all the adult-sized issues that come with it, and fortunately, he is successful in once again becoming small.  “Big” is a movie whose charms rest mostly on the shoulders of Tom, which I realized even when I originally saw it.   It’s one of those films that you enjoy when you’re in the theater, but after you come out, you start to wonder about implausibility (not with the switch itself, of course, but how it’s handled).  However, such discussion is just part of the fun.

 

Review: Woman in Gold

When “Woman in Gold,” opens, it’s on a presumably humorless setting: a funeral in which Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren) is giving an eulogy for her sister, but only a few minutes in, she starts making jokes, which the attendees receive at first uncomfortably but then manage to chuckle at.  This will set the tone for the entire movie, in which many characters, from Maria to the various judges, will indulge in humor, some of it gallows, and most of it there to give the audience a slight break from the gravitas of the subject: which is the based-on-real-life story of how a Jewish woman who lost most of her family in the Holocaust and was forced to emigrate to America, hired a young lawyer (Ryan Reynolds) to force the Austrian government to return a Klimt portrait of her aunt (hence the film’s title), which was stolen by Nazis (along with many other of her family’s possessions).

Helen plays an outspoken, fiercely independent woman in her eighties, who is given the name of Reynold’s lawyer by his mother.   He’s just failed at attempting to open his own firm and is about to interview for a job which he gets, but not before the interviewers point out that not only he is the grandson of the composer Schoenberg and the son of a judge.  (Luckily, the film does not attempt to whip up some drama in a stereotypical father-son conflict.)  Despite an awkward first meeting (“This was a test, and we both failed,” Helen says at its conclusion), Ryan finds himself persuaded by Helen to do some research into her case.  This leads to them going to Austria (in Helen’s case returning after having to flee for her life with her husband from the Nazis).  Here they meet a Good Samaritan (Daniel Bruhl), who offers for reasons that will later be made specific, to help guide them through the bureaucratic maze that they must negotiate in order to successfully get the painting back.  This is fortunate, as many of the officials they encounter are less than helpful, and a few are downright hostile at the thought of having a priceless work of art leave the country.  Anti-Semitism, which Helen correctly predicts will greet them, is still lingering.  In flashbacks, we get Maria’s backstory (her younger self is played by Tatiana Maslany), and how she overcame just about every obstacle you could think of in order to get out of Austria safely.  (Unexpected transportation delays take on a whole new meaning when you have Nazis a few steps behind you.)

When they return, discouraged but not yet defeated, Ryan quits his job, even though his lovely, supportive wife (Katie Holmes) is expecting their second child soon, and decides to bring the case to the US – all the way to the Supreme Court.  (After this, and “The Giver,” I hope Holmes doesn’t get too typecast.)  It’s in those scenes that he began to impress me because usually when an actor performs in a courtroom drama, they can’t resist the temptation to start chewing scenery like a Hungry, Hungry Hippo – but Ryan doesn’t do that.  He just plays an ordinary person who believes in what he’s doing, not someone keeping in the back of their mind that they may be acting in a future Oscar clip.  As for Helen, she’s excellent, but then I was expecting that.  The flashbacks, too, that show Maria interacting with her family, especially as what we know will be their deaths draws closer, are also moving, and cynic that I am, I couldn’t help but find the portrayal of them sticking together with dignity, pride and affection, heartwarming.

 

Pretty in Pink: An Abridged Script

FADE IN

INT. HOUSE on the WRONG SIDE of the TRACKS

HARRY DEAN STANTON
Honey, you look stunning.  How much did that outfit cost to put together?

MOLLY RINGWALD
Nine ninety-five and not a penny of my self-respect.  Now, Daddy, don’t forget that you have a job interview today.

HARRY DEAN STANTON
Become a productive member of society when I can lounge around here drinking beer with your friend, JON CRYER?  Surely you jest.

EXT. HIGH SCHOOL

JAMES SPADER
Hey, MOLLY, let’s go out.

MOLLY RINGWALD
JAMES, you’re wearing the hair mousse of shady morals, which means you must be the villain in this story.  Besides you look like you’re heading into your thirties – which would mean checking the definition of statutory rape in this state.  No thank you.

JON CRYER
Besides, I have dibs on MOLLY.  I’m her friend, which means I spend approximately every waking hour thinking about her.  Non-waking ones, too.  In fact, if I were ever in a coma, I’d still crush on her.

MOLLY RINGWALD
Uh, JON, that’s not exactly the definition of a FRIEND, but no one in the movie is ever going to address that directly, so we’re cool.

INT. SCHOOL LIBRARY

ANDREW MCCARTHY
(via computer)
Good afternoon, MOLLY.  Perhaps you’d like to go out sometime?  Like on a date because apparently, I’m totally attracted to your funky clothes and fierce integrity.

MOLLY RINGWALD
(via computer)
JON, cut it out.  Go study and get those grades up so you can get out of this hellish black hole of conformity, materialism and Reagan-era values.

ANDREW MCCARTHY
No, it’s me, ANDREW.  Despite having the sex appeal of vanilla pudding, I’ve been cast as your PRINCE CHARMING.

MOLLY RINGWALD
Well, okay, but only if you pick me up at the record store at the mall where I work.  Heaven forbid, you should see the hovel where I live.

INT. RECORD STORE

MOLLY RINGWALD
Oh, ANNIE POTTS, do you think I could ever fall for a richie?  And just why is my best girl friend so old anyway?

ANNIE POTTS
If he were genuinely nice and sexy in a non-threatening way, why not?  Also, you’re way too cool for the bitchy material girls at school.

ANDREW MCCARTHY
Ready for our series of comical misunderstandings to commence because we come from such different backgrounds?

MOLLY RINGWALD
Sure thing.

The misunderstandings multiply, but somehow they hit it off anyway!  Shock waves ripple throughout the entire school.  This is, like, literally the most horrifying thing that any of the other students have witnessed because like most movie teens, they are SHALLOW and don’t have the courage of their convictions like MOLLY.  Which means that there must be repercussions.

EXT. A STABLE at a COUNTRY CLUB

ANDREW MCCARTHY
MOLLY, I love you, but there’s one thing I just don’t get.

MOLLY RINGWALD
That I’m the only girl at our school with integrity?

ANDREW MCCARTHY
No, it’s that you have our own car, bedroom and phone, yet you consider yourself poorer than dirt.

MOLLY RINGWALD
Hey, I have to sew my own clothes.  You don’t seriously think I got these off the rack at the mall.  The Gap staff wouldn’t even use these to clean bird crap off their car.

ANDREW MCCARTHY
Touché.

INT. HIGH SCHOOL – SOMETIME LATER

MOLLY RINGWALD
Why have you been avoiding me?  Last night, I heard something on the roof, but that turned out to just be more of JON’s wacky lovesick antics.

ANDREW MCCARTHY
(looks down, scuffs Gucci’s in the dirt)
I dunno.

MOLLY RINGWALD
WHAT ABOUT PROM?  WHAT ABOUT PROM?

ANDREW MCCARTHY
Well, uh….I really have to well, I just can’t do it.  Plus, all this open display of anger is giving me hives.

JAMES SPADER
Forget her, bud.  She’ll always be nada, nada, nada.

JON CRYER
I’m gonna beat you up.  First, for dissing MOLLY.  And second, because somehow you’ve got all the good lines.

JAMES SPADER
Would you like some cheese with your whine, JON?

INT. ANNIE POTTS’ APARTMENT

MOLLY RINGWALD
My God, you’ve become a yuppie!  Pod people have taken over your soul.

ANNIE POTTS
Hey, at least I’m finally happy with who I am.

MOLLY RINGWALD
Touché.  Can I borrow your old prom dress to mutilate?

ANNIE POTTS
Be my guest.

INT. THE HOVEL

MOLLY RINGWALD
So, Daddy, how was the job interview?

HARRY DEAN STANTON
Huh?

MOLLY RINGWALD
Just get over MOM already!  She left us, and she’s not coming back!

HARRY DEAN STANTON
If it was anyone but you doing all this judging of adults, MOLLY, it would come off as kind of obnoxious, but you’re just too adorable to send to your room.  Besides, I brought home a dress for you to play with.

EXT. A bunch of shots follow, in which it is established that MOLLY is passionate about sewing, ANDREW is conflicted, and JON is a stalker-in-training.  Because it needs reiteration.

INT. PROM HALL

JON CRYER
That is quite a dress, MOLLY.  ANDREW is going to be….surprised.  By the way, he came alone.  He’s sitting over there with his evil friends, looking like he’s about to undergo a root canal.

MOLLY RINGWALD
JON, you are so sweet to show up and give me moral support.  Look, DIRECTOR JOHN HUGHES has even come up with a love interest for you.  It’s BUFFY, the vampire slayer, and she’s looking right at you.

JON CRYER
OK. Because my feelings for you were apparently so deep, I can just switch off the obsessive stuff and crush on a conventional blonde.  See ya.

JAMES SPADER
(referring to MOLLY, not KRISTY SWANSON)
Looks like that low rent piece of ass came anyway.

ANDREW MCCARTHY
(develops cojones for the first time ever)
JAMES, you’re in for a lifetime of evil yuppie roles, while MOLLY is forever going to be known as America’s sweetheart.  You’re just jealous.

JAMES SPADER
Whatever.  I think I’ll go snort coke and fuck.

ANDREW MCCARTHY
MOLLY, I’m so sorry I didn’t have the courage of my convictions like you did.  Let’s go kiss in the rain.

EXT. PARKING LOT

MOLLY RINGWALD
Uh, ANDREW, did you do something different with your hair?

ANDREW MCCARTHY
No, it’s just because we’re shooting this scene WAY after the initial movie wrapped because the test audience was adamant that you couldn’t possibly wind up with JON.   You have absolutely no chemistry with him, and they were determined to have a proper romantic ending.

MOLLY RINGWALD
So that explains it.

END

A Look Back: The Sound of Music

Last week, I noticed this movie was playing at a local theater and wondered why, particularly since I’d recently seen a review in the Onion, too. It turns out that it’s the fiftieth anniversary of “The Sound of Music,” a movie, which along with such cinematic gems as ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” “Mommie Dearest,” “International Velvet,” “and “I Know My First Name is Steven,” seemed to be on weekend TV on a permanent loop when I was a kid. Since I already had nightmares about being kidnapped, I found musicals like “The Sound of Music,” much more appealing then. A world where people dealt with their issues by bursting into song, rather than screaming at each other or denying there was a problem in the first place seemed an attractive alternative to my own.

Anyway… Julie Andrews plays Maria, a nun who is having doubts about her faith and likes to sneak away to the hills and sing (she also plays guitar). Even as a kid, this did not seem to strike me as behavior that really needed correction, but this is apparently not so. Early on, the Mother Superior decides that she needs a harsh dose of reality and assigns her the job of being the governess to seven spoiled rich kids, whose father, Christopher Plummer has turned bitter following his wife’s death and deals with this by treating the kids like soldiers and using a whistle to summon them, as well as hiring an assortment of unpleasant governesses. The children, who range in age from sixteen to four-ish, have responded to this by acting out, and if you ask me, a better solution would be letting them go to school, but for reasons I never figured out, this is not an option.

Although all her predecessors have departed with nervous breakdowns, Julie quickly manages to win the kids over, mostly by letting them snuggle in bed with her when there is a thunderstorm, and in the oldest girl’s, Liesl’s case (Charmian Carr) not tattling to her father when she sneaks back into the house after rendezvousing with the telegram boy, Rolf (Daniel Truhitte) in the gazebo.  Charmian is clearly head over heels in love with Daniel, which is probably also a by-product of being cooped up with only her siblings for company.  As a kid, I got that, “Seeennnnd me a telegraammm,” was an euphemism, but exactly how far their relationship extended I couldn’t tell.  Did they actually, well, Rolf?  If the Captain (Christopher) found them, would he kill Rolf, make them marry or just send Liesl to boarding school?  But that is not the direction the movie ultimately takes.

No, after the storm and the sing-along that occurs, Julie decides to make the kids the world’s most hideous play clothes, made from draperies that were hung in her room.  Even as a kid, I thought that accepting that she manages to do all this in a relatively short time period and doesn’t get any lip from the kids about wearing them in public was implausible, but this is a musical.  So the children and Julie have a blast until their father returns with “The Baroness” (Eleanor Parker), to whom he is engaged.  But Christopher starts to have feelings for Julie, and oddly enough, the Baroness doesn’t seem too upset about the whole thing.  So Maria and Christopher wind up married, while Christopher’s brother decides to pressure him to let the kids perform in public.

Also, World War II is looming, and Rolf has joined the Nazi party.  This means that he is having doubts about his relationship with Charmian, as her father doesn’t seem to properly understand how great being a Nazi is.  The result is that the family decides to flee, using the excuse that they are going to a talent contest as a guise.  However, they are intercepted by the Nazis and forced to perform as originally intended.  This brings me to another plot hole – why didn’t the Nazis post some basic security outside the contest venue so no one could escape?  Since obviously they were attempting to flee in the first place?  But they don’t, so the family ultimately escapes.  I did, however, wonder what happened to Rolf, since in a weak moment, when he’s helping the Nazis tail the family, he lets them get away.   But it wasn’t his story.

 

A Look Back: Say Anything

The last time I visited my optometrist for my annual exam I happened to walk (a little unsteadily considering that I was temporarily blind) into the room where they have you wait while your eyes dilute from the eye drops. It’s usually full whenever I go of seniors discussing their cataract operations, but I had to smile when I heard that the piped in music system was now playing Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes,” a song that like Simple Minds “Don’t You Forget About Me,” and “Twist and Shout,” is irrevocably linked to an iconic eighties’ movie scene. In this case, of course, it’s the famous boombox scene where John Cusack’s Lloyd Dobbler declares his love – even though she dumped him by giving him a pen – to Ione Skye’s Diane Court.

“Say Anything” is cinematic proof (or wish fulfillment) that gorgeous girls really do want a guy with a “good sense of humor.”  Witness the moment in the movie when a girl asks Ione why she went out with John, and she simply responds, “He made me laugh.”  When a guy asks John how he got Ione to go out with him, he just responds that he asked her, which makes the guy happy. (“Thanks, that gives me hope!”)  As the movie progresses, it becomes clear that both possess a lot more to them than just the surface qualities.  Ione, who is described as being “a brain trapped in the body of a game show hostess”, may be impossibly elegant and classy, but she’s about to have her character put to the test, when her beloved father (John Mahoney), who she chose over her mom when they divorced, gets a visit from the IRS who suddenly wants to probe into his business affairs.  And John, an aspiring kickboxer, who gives a speech about not wanting to buy, sell or process anything when he’s grilled by Ione’s dad, has to decide whether or not to pursue a relationship that as Ione puts it at the end, no one thinks is going to last.

“Say Anything,” was also a revelation to me as a teen because it was probably the first teen movie I saw in which the characters attempt to behave somewhat responsibly when they attend a graduation party.  John is greeted at the door with, “Lloyd, tonight you’re the keymaster,” and while I’ve never gone to a real life party where this occurs, it always struck me as smart.  (Even the guidance counselor surrenders her key to John.)  Anyway, this means that everyone gets home safely and actually helps prolong his date with Ione, which turns out even better than they probably both expect.

For party drama, however, there’s the plight of poor Corey Flood (Lilli Taylor), a folksinger who discovers that her boyfriend Joe (Loren Dean) is a cheating douchebag and decides to fight back with the power of song.  But she’s also smart enough not to accept his “apology,” which is basically a solicitation for sex.  Forget Stef in “Pretty in Pink,” this guy is the ultimate in scummy boyfriends.  Of course, I realized, though not for years, that his primary function in the movie is to make John Cusack’s Lloyd, who is  is cut from a totally different mold, look even better.

John’s parents in the movie are away, so we don’t get to judge them (he lives with his older sister and her little boy), but we do get to pass judgment on John Mahoney’s character, who at first appears the cliché of a doting dad, complete with giving his daughter a car as a graduation gift (though it’s a stick), but who we discover has been fleecing his elderly clients for years in order to provide Ione with a comfortable lifestyle.  He’s not pure evil, but he is seriously morally flawed – and discovering this, helps make John’s and Ione’s bond even stronger.  Ultimately, John decides to accompany Ione on her trip to England, where she’s received a prestigious fellowship to study.  We last see them about to take off on an airplane.  John points out optimistically that all great success stories start with no one having faith that they’ll happen, and on that note, the movie ends.  Time will tell.