Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"Better Off Dead" not a study in moppishness 25 years later

"The once great champ, now a study in moppishness. No longer the victory hungry stallion we've raced so many times before..."

It's kind of been a 25th anniversary celebration year for "Better Off Dead" here in LA what with two special screenings, one at the Aero earlier this year and the other a little over a week ago. What has amazed me both times during the Q&A with "Savage" Steve Holland is how he talks about the movie bombing at the box office back in the day. I very specifically remember critics liking the film's off center humor and style, especially one critic with the Boston Globe (where I was living when the movie came out) who praised it's zaniness and originality.

I remember at the time how people use to refer to Holland as John Hughes Jr. Even though his follow up, "One Crazy Summer", was in fact a total dive, audiences continue to eat up John Cusack as Lane Myer obsessing over his lost girlfriend, his parents and little brother, Monique, the French foreign exchange student living across the street with Ricky and his Mom, and the strange creepy paper boy who just won't give up on getting his two dollars.

The soundtrack is also a big part of this movie, which I actually heard first because a friend of mine at the time had a copy on that new high end music format that just came out a few years before, CD. And don't forget "Savage" Steve's animation and drawings that frame some of the action and comedy. This is definitely one of my favorite films of all time and one that I certainly know backwards and forwards.

It's ashame that John Cusack has distanced himself from the teen movies he did during the 80s. But in the meantime, Diane Franklin and Curtis Armstrong have been very involved and appreciative of the fan adoration this year. My only hope is that at some point someone will decide to put out a special edition DVD. Although when asked during the screening at the Silent Movie Theatre Holland stated that he holds no claim to owning the rights to film. It's pretty much in public domain at the moment, but hopefully that will change soon. "Better Off Dead" absolutely deserves the full-on special featured treatment and version.

Photos of our night at the Silent Movie Theatre and the Q&A after the screening will be up shortly.


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