Director Cameron Crowe really is, in my opinion, one of the finest writer/directors working today. Even at his lightest - "Singles", let's say - there's a fine amount of a lot of different wonderful elements; great character detail; realistic human emotions that aren't yanked around by plot devices; interesting settings and, as per usual for a film from a former Rolling Stone writer, great music. "Say Anything" was released in 1989 and it was an impressive way to end off the eighties, a film that clearly attempted to revitalize the eighties teen comedy - a film that was still funny and still romantic, but one that remained more personal and more substancial.
The film stars John Cusack as Lloyd Dobler, a high school senior who seems intelligent and nice, but doesn't seem to have much in the way of plans aside from the fact that he's really good at kickboxing. After graduation day, he decides to ask out the girl he's been into: Diane Court (Ione Skye), a beautiful girl with plans and potential: she has a scholarship to a school in England and a father (John Mahoney) who dislikes the aimlessness he sees in Lloyd - yet, there are things unsaid about the father's business decisions that could effect all three.
Although Crowe had written "Fast Times At Ridgemont High" and a little-seen teen film called "Wild Life", "Say Anything" was the first time that Crowe had stepped into the director's chair, assisted by famed producer James L. Brooks. Crowe's visual style remains somewhat basic, but there's something wonderful about the way that he offers warm and engaging imagery, yet lets the actors do great things with great dialogue; the music also helps set the scene well.
It also helps that, especially in this case, he'd brought together actors with terrific chemistry. John Mahoney, Lili Taylor and Cusack's long-time friend Jeremy Piven are all part of the Chicago acting scene and really work flawlessly off one another in their scenes. Cusack and Skye also have superb chemistry with each other, which is discussed in further detail by the two on the DVD's commentary track.
VIDEO: 20th Century Fox has given "Say Anything" a very pleasant new 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation. Laslo Kovacs' pleasing and vivid cinematography is offered nicely here; sharpness and detail are generally very good, although there were a few slight instances of softness on occasion throughout the movie.
There's little to be concerned about throughout the presentation. Some very slight grain is visible at times, but I really found it very minor. The print used is in excellent condition, with only the most minimal speck visible once or twice. No edge enhancement was seen and pixelation was absent. Colors look fairly natural, if a little subdued.
SOUND: "Say Anything" recieves a new Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack from Fox for this release. Certainly, I doubt anyone is going to go into this with expectations of an agressive new soundtrack and they would be right not to expect one. Yet, this is a very pleasant effort that opens up the music and does provide light surround use. Audio quality is enjoyably crisp and clear, if not exceptional.
MENUS: Very enjoyable main menu, with slight film-themed animation.
Commentary: This is a commentary from director Cameron Crowe, actress Ione Skye and actor John Cusack. The commentary includes something that I've never seen before on a disc - a 21-minute opening discussion from the three that takes place while production photos play out on-screen. It's a really wonderful way to cover back-story about interesting topics; we hear some terrific stories about how the three met and how the project came about. After this opening, we are taken into the film proper and the three provide a fantastic discussion of the movie itself. Crowe recently provided an excellent commentary for "Almost Famous"; his way of discussion is interesting - there's a certain mellow goofyness to the way he speaks, but there's a lot of intelligence and insight in his comments.
The three seem to be having a great time together and, although Crowe certainly provides the majority of the comments, Cusack and Skye really do contribute a lot of very enjoyable chat about how they approached their performances and how good their chemistry became during the making of the movie. This is definitely one of the best commentaries that I've heard in quite a while.
Alternate/Extended/Deleted Scenes: The disc offers no less than 10 deleted scenes, 13 extended scenes and 5 alternate scenes. While the back of the box states that Crowe offers commentary during the alternate scenes, this feature seems to have been scrapped at the last moment or never done, as it's nowhere to be found here. Still, the quality of these alternate scenes, presented in anamorphic widescreen with production sound, is still quite good.
Also: A short promotional featurettes, a group of trailers and TV spots and Crowe's personal photos from the film.
Final Thoughts: "Say Anything" is certainly one of the best of Crowe's group of marvelous writer/director efforts and is rightly often recognized as a classic in its genre. Fox has certainly realized demand for a very nice special edition of the movie and provided one with a nice presentation of the film itself, as well as exceptional supplements. Highly Recommended and nicely priced at $19.99.
The Film ****