Say Anything...

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Say Anything...
Theatrical release poster
Directed byCameron Crowe
Written byCameron Crowe
Produced byPolly Platt
CinematographyLászló Kovács
Edited byRichard Marks
Music by
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • April 14, 1989 (1989-04-14)
Running time
100 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$16 million[1]
Box office$20.7 million[2]

Say Anything... is a 1989 American teen romantic comedy drama film written and directed by Cameron Crowe (in his feature directorial debut). The film follows the romance between Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack), an average student, and Diane Court (Ione Skye), the class valedictorian, immediately after their graduation from high school.

Say Anything... was theatrically released in the United States on April 14, 1989, by 20th Century Fox. The film received highly positive reviews from critics. In 2002, Entertainment Weekly ranked Say Anything... as the greatest modern movie romance, and it was ranked number 11 on Entertainment Weekly's list of the 50 best high school movies.[3]


The iconic Sharp GF-7600 boombox that John Cusack held above his head

At the end of their senior year of high school, noble underachiever Lloyd Dobler falls for valedictorian Diane Court and plans to ask her out, though they belong to different social groups.

Lloyd's parents are stationed in Germany in the U.S. Army, so he lives with his sister Constance, a single mother, and has no plans yet for his future. Diane comes from a sheltered academic upbringing, living with her doting divorced father Jim, who owns the retirement home where she works. She will take up a prestigious fellowship in England at the end of the summer.

Lloyd offers to take Diane to their graduation party. She agrees, to everyone's surprise. Their next "date" is a dinner at Diane's, where Lloyd fails to impress Jim, and the Internal Revenue Service informs the latter he is under scrutiny.

Diane introduces Lloyd to the retirement home residents and he teaches her to drive her manual transmission Ford Tempo graduation gift. They grow closer and become intimate, to her father's concern. Lloyd's musician best friend Corey, who has never gotten over her cheating ex-boyfriend, Joe, warns him to take care of Diane.

Jim urges Diane to break up with Lloyd, feeling he is not an appropriate match, and suggests she give him a pen as a parting gift. Worried about her father, Diane tells Lloyd she wants to stop seeing him and concentrate on her studies, giving him the pen. Devastated, he seeks advice from Corey, who tells him to "be a man". Meanwhile, Jim discovers his credit cards are declined as the investigation drags on.

On a boombox at dawn, Lloyd stands under her open bedroom window and plays "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel, which played when they became intimate. The next day, Diane meets with the IRS investigator, who says they have evidence incriminating Jim with embezzling funds from his retirement home residents. He suggests she accept the fellowship as matters with her father will worsen.

Diane finds the cash concealed at home and confronts Jim, who tells her he took it to give her financial independence. Jim feels justified in doing so as he provided better care of his residents than their families. Distraught, she reconciles with Lloyd at his kickboxing gym.

At the end of the summer, Jim is incarcerated on a nine-month sentence. Lloyd visits him at the prison, saying he is going with Diane to England; Jim reacts with anger. Lloyd gives him a letter from her, but she arrives to say goodbye and they embrace. Diane gives him the pen she'd given Lloyd, asking him to write to her in England. Lloyd supports and comforts Diane, who is afraid of flying, on their flight.



Jennifer Connelly and Ione Skye vied for the role of Diane Court, but Skye was cast. Robert Downey Jr. was offered the role of Lloyd Dobler, but turned it down.[4] Christian Slater and Kirk Cameron were also considered for the role.[5] Dick Van Dyke and Richard Dreyfuss were considered for the role of Jim Court.[6]


The Smithereens originally wrote "A Girl Like You" for the movie, but the film's producers ultimately cut the song believing it revealed too much of the plot, and used "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel in its place; "A Girl Like You" was released later that year on their album 11 and became a top 40 hit in the US.[7][8]

AllMusic wrote that the soundtrack, like the film, is "much smarter than the standard teen fare of the era."[9] The soundtrack consists of these songs:

1."All for Love"Nancy Wilson4:37
2."Cult of Personality"Living Colour5:07
3."One Big Rush"Joe Satriani3:25
4."You Want It"Cheap Trick3:43
5."Taste the Pain"Red Hot Chili Peppers5:04
6."In Your Eyes"Peter Gabriel5:23
7."Stripped"Depeche Mode6:41
8."Skankin' to the Beat"Fishbone2:49
9."Within Your Reach"The Replacements4:26
10."Keeping the Dream Alive"Freiheit4:14
11."Lloyd Dobler Rap"John Cusack0:33
Total length:45:29

Critical reception[edit]

Say Anything... was well reviewed. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 98% based on 49 reviews, with an average rating of 8.1/10. The website's consensus reads, "One of the definitive Generation X movies, Say Anything is equally funny and heartfelt—and it established John Cusack as an icon for left-of-center types everywhere."[10] On Metacritic the film has a score of 86 based on reviews from 19 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[11] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade B+ on scale of A to F.[12]

Giving the film four stars out of four, Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert called Say Anything... "one of the best films of the year—a film that is really about something, that cares deeply about the issues it contains—and yet it also works wonderfully as a funny, warmhearted romantic comedy."[13] He later included it in his 2002 Great Movie list, writing, "Say Anything exists entirely in a real world, is not a fantasy or a pious parable, has characters who we sort of recognize, and is directed with care for the human feelings involved."[14]

In a less positive review, Variety called it a "half-baked love story, full of good intentions but uneven in the telling." But, the review also said the film's "[a]ppealing tale of an undirected army brat proving himself worthy of the most exceptional girl in high school elicits a few laughs, plenty of smiles and some genuine feeling."[15] In a mixed review, Caryn James of The New York Times wrote:

[The film] resembles a first-rate production of a children's story. Its sense of parents and the summer after high school is myopic, presented totally from the teenagers' point of view. Yet its melodrama—Will Dad go to prison? Will Diane go to England?—distorts that perspective, so the film doesn't have much to offer an actual adult, not even a sense of what it's truly like to be just out of high school these days. The film is all charming performances and grace notes, but there are plenty of worse things to be.[16]

Cultural influence[edit]

The film features one of the most culturally recognizable scenes in American movie history, in which John Cusack holds a boombox above his head outside Diane's bedroom window to let her know that he has not given up on her. Crowe and producer James L. Brooks believed the scene could become a hallmark of the movie, though Crowe found it difficult to film because Cusack felt it was "too passive". The scene was first scored with Fishbone's "Question of Life", but after viewing the scene, Crowe opted to replace it with Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" to better fit the mood that he wished to convey. Gabriel initially turned down Crowe because he confused the film with another film in production at the time, a John Belushi biography called Wired.[17]

"That scene is like Romeo under the trellis," said Crowe reminiscing about the iconic scene. "But I have this feeling when I watch it that it's filled with double emotion – both with the story and the actors, whose own trepidation bleeds in."[18]

In a September 2012 interview with Rolling Stone, discussing the 25th anniversary of So (from which "In Your Eyes" hails), Gabriel commented on the cultural impact of the scene, "It definitely gave [the song] a second life, because now it's so often parodied in comedy shows and it is one of the modern day Romeo and Juliet balcony clichés. I've talked to John Cusack about that. We're sort of trapped together in a minuscule moment of contemporary culture."[19] In October 2012, as Gabriel played the first few bars of the song during a performance at the Hollywood Bowl, Cusack walked onto the stage, handed him a boombox and took a bow, before quickly walking off again. Cameron Crowe was also present at the concert and later tweeted "Peter Gabriel and John Cusack on stage together at the Hollywood Bowl tonight. Won't forget that... ever."[20]

At a concert in Madison Square Garden on September 18, 2023 (touring his album I/O), Gabriel held up an inflatable toy boombox during a performance of "In Your Eyes," reported as "a nod to Lloyd Dobler."[21]

Canceled TV series[edit]

A television series based on the movie was planned by NBC and 20th Century Fox, but producers Aaron Kaplan and Justin Adler did not know that Crowe had not approved of the project. When they found out his views, the show was dropped.[22]


  1. ^ "Box Office Information for Say Anything..". TheWrap. Archived from the original on December 11, 2013. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
  2. ^ "Say Anything.. (1989)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
  3. ^ "50 Best High School Movies". September 15, 2006. Retrieved May 17, 2012 – via
  4. ^ "Robert Downey Jr.…Previously on The Howard Stern Show". The Howard Stern Show. May 4, 2016.
  5. ^ Lyttelton, Oliver (April 13, 2012). "Five Things You Might Not Know About 'Say Anything . .'". IndieWire.
  6. ^ Reilly, Dan (May 1, 2019). "We've Been Mispronouncing Lloyd Dobler's Name from Say Anything This Whole Time". Vulture.
  7. ^ Freeman, Paul (September 20, 1990). "Smash For Smithereens". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on July 1, 2016. Retrieved November 7, 2023.
  8. ^ Robinson, Joanna (May 28, 2015). "Cameron Crowe Takes Us on a Musical Tour Through His Filmography". Vanity Fair. Retrieved November 7, 2023.
  9. ^ Say Anything ... (soundtrack) at AllMusic
  10. ^ "Say Anything... (1989)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved October 16, 2023.
  11. ^ "Say Anything..." Metacritic. Retrieved October 16, 2023.
  12. ^ "Say Anything (1989) B+". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on December 20, 2018.
  13. ^ Ebert, Roger (April 14, 1989). "Say Anything". Chicago Sun-Times. Ebert Digital LLC. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  14. ^ Ebert, Roger (February 17, 2002). "Great Movie: Say Anything". Chicago Sun-Times. Ebert Digital LLC. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  15. ^ "Say Anything..." Variety. December 31, 1988. Retrieved January 13, 2021.
  16. ^ James, Caryn (April 14, 1989). "Mismatched Teen-Agers Fall in Love, Of Course". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 16, 2017. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  17. ^ Say Anything... at the AFI Catalog of Feature Films
  18. ^ Alexander, Bryan. "'Say Anything' at 30: John Cusack's real concerns about boom box serenade ensured immortality", USA Today. April 14, 2019.
  19. ^ Greene, Andy (September 4, 2012). "Q&A: Peter Gabriel Reflects On His Landmark 1986 Album So". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on September 9, 2012. Retrieved September 4, 2012.
  20. ^ Zimmerman, Neetzan (October 8, 2012). "Peter Gabriel's Performance of In Your Eyes Interrupted By John Cusack Holding A Boombox". Gawker. Archived from the original on February 18, 2013. Retrieved October 8, 2012.
  21. ^ "Peter Gabriel brought the moon to Madison Square Garden". Brooklyn Vegan. September 19, 2023. Retrieved September 20, 2023.
  22. ^ Elavsky, Cindy (October 23, 2014). "Celebrity Extra (October 23, 2014)". Florida Weekly. King Features. Archived from the original on October 24, 2014. Retrieved October 23, 2014.

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