Say Anything: 20th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray)
Directed by Cameron Crowe
Studio: Twentieth Century-Fox
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 100 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo surround English; 1.0 Spanish, French
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin
MSRP: $ 34.99
Release Date: November 3, 2009
Review Date: November 8, 2009
A completely off-kilter slice of teen life in those tentative months between high school graduation and starting the next phase of one’s life, Cameron Crowe’s Say Anything stands tall among teen films with something more on its mind than booze, drugs, and sex. An ingratiating cast of characters and a list of wonderful, unique actors to play them combine with an involving story of life and love among the young who are people one wants to spend time with. Say Anything even twenty years after its premiere charms us while connecting with our hearts.
Newly graduated from high school, kickboxer Lloyd Dobler (John Cusak) wants more than anything to connect with the class valedictorian Diane Court (Ione Skye), but he fears she’s so intelligent and aloof than she’d never consider going out with an average Joe like he is. Surprisingly, she accepts his invitation to the graduation after-party and finds that his gentility, thoughtfulness, and confidence are very appealing, enough that she begins to see him even though she knows in sixteen weeks, she’ll be leaving for England to begin studies having won a full fellowship. Initially, father James Court (John Mahoney) isn’t worried about his level-headed daughter's making any bad decisions concerning this polite but rather rudderless young man, but as his own problems begin to escalate with the IRS over back taxes from the nursing home he runs, he sees his daughter falling for the young man and fears she’ll leave common sense behind and make some wrong decisions and thus ruin her chances for the bright future that seems all but certain for her.
Cameron Crowe’s script may put words into the mouths of his characters that are sometimes a bit artful and too pithy for their years, but they’re played with such charm and good intentions that the lapses in believability are easy to overlook. With this as his first directorial attempt, the film is really rather mundane and straightforward. Again, the sweetness and genuinely blossoming love and subsequent angst seem real and have no real need for any kind of pretentious embellishment with flashy camera moves or tricked-out staging of scenes. The party scene after graduation allows several characters to have a moment in the spotlight, though when their stories are subsequently dropped later on, it’s a bit jarring. Still, these folks do elicit laughs and some genuine empathy (having been to high school and survived, we can all recognize essences at play here that ring true).
John Cusak may appear to be just a trifle old to play the high school senior, but his diligence at pursuing what he wants with an earnest wholesomeness that’s captivating just obliterates any objections one might have initially had. Ione Skye is the epitome of everyone’s ideal dream date: intelligent but with so much more to offer someone who’s interested in digging below the surface. John Mahoney makes the movie as the divorced dad raising his daughter in such a loving, responsible way, so that when surprises come up later in the film, we’re as genuinely shocked as his daughter, rocked to our foundations by what’s transpiring. Lili Taylor has a few effective scenes as the lovelorn friend of Lloyd’s who’s trying to get over the heartbreak of a jerk who dumped her. Look close, and you’ll see Jeremy Piven, Eric Stoltz, and Jason Gould as various high schoolers coping with life after graduation with varying degrees of success.
The film’s 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio is delivered in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Initially the look of the transfer seems dated and rather flat but after the initial couple of scenes, sharpness seems much better and details make themselves known in skin, clothes (a mohair sweater seems very detailed), and even blood during one of Lloyd’s sparring scenes. Flesh tones are very realistic and color overall is solid without being garish or overdone. The film has been divided into 20 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix doesn’t really do much with the few opportunities for enveloping sound (the graduation ceremony and the party that night). What surround activity is there comes from the music which does tend to make reasonably effective use of the fronts and rears but only sporadically. The LFE channel gets the night off.
The audio commentary featuring director Cameron Crowe and co-stars John Cusak and Ione Skye has been ported over from a past DVD release. It’s a low key conversation among these friends who hadn’t seen the film in some time when they sat down to watch and talk. There’s a fair amount of reminiscing, but there’s nothing here of any earthshaking relevance.
More pertinent and fact-filled are some of the new featurettes done for this release:
“An Iconic Film Revisited: Say Anything … 20 Years Later” has director Crowe and co-stars Cusak, Skye, and Mahoney discussing their memories of the project. Crowe talks about their casting, mentions memorable scenes and how easy or difficult they were to capture, and some iconic moments that everyone seems to talk about. This runs 22 minutes in 1080p.
“A Conversation with Camerone Crowe” finds the director thinking back to his first directorial project, at mistakes made and lessons learned on his first time behind the camera. This 9 ½-minute featurette is in 1080p.
“I Love Say Anything” rounds up a group of minor celebrities who all express their love for the film and quote lines or memories the movie dredges up for them. A bit self-serving and pointless, this feature runs 9 ½ minutes in 1080p.
There is a trivia track that the viewer can turn on at any time to pop up facts about the movie, the actors, and the locations. It can also play simultaneously with the commentary if one so chooses.
There are five alternate scenes which can be viewed separately or in one 11-minute group. This and the other cut scenes are all presented in 480i.
There are ten deleted scenes which can be played individually or in one 13 ¼-minute bunch.
There are thirteen extended scenes which play in black and white (the moments that made final cut of the film) and color (the cut moments). The viewer can watch them separately or in one 24 ¾-minute block.
The vintage featurette for the movie is the film’s EPK with interviews from the principals and the director about the movie and the fun of making it. It runs 7 minutes in 480i.
There are two theatrical trailers which separately run 2 ¼ minutes and 2 ½ minutes. They can also be played together in one grouping. They’re in 480i.
There are eight TV spot ads which also may be played together for 4 ¼ minutes or separately.
An extensive photo gallery features mostly color portraits of the stars, behind-the-scenes shots of the movie being made, and stills from the picture. There are seventy-three photos in this gallery.
4/5 (not an average)
Say Anything plays just as fresh and funny today as it did twenty years ago, and this new anniversary release on Blu-ray brings the viewer a nice video and audio update along with some nicely nostalgic looks back by the principals involved in its making. Recommended!