By Randy White,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Smart, edgy coming-of-age story.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Teenagers can get along with their parents if they're honest. Try for the seemingly unattainable and you may attain it. Men and women don't necessarily fall into stereotypical roles. Be contrary. Follow your gut. Great successes are sometimes laughed at in the beginning. Themes include gratitude, compassion, and integrity.
Positive Role Models
Lloyd is kind, caring, and honest and is willing to get hurt to be with the girl of his dreams. Although he doesn't yet have a career plan, he knows he wants to spend his future with the girl he loves. Diane is a smart, hardworking, responsible, and mature teenager who always calls home to let her father know where she is. She's willing to sacrifice the boy she loves to support her father, who is under criminal investigation. The father lies about stealing money from his nursing home residents; he feels justified because he believes he provides them with good care and makes them happy.
Violence & Scariness
When Lloyd gets knocked down kickboxing, his bones have to be snapped back into place. Lloyd throws a glass bottle against a fence in anger.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
French-kissing. Teens have sex in the backseat of a car. Not much is shown, but the event is discussed afterward. The teenagers also are shown in bed, under the sheets.
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Language is infrequent and includes one "f--k," plus a couple uses of "s--t," "bitch," "goddamn," "d--k," and "Jesus Christ" as an exclamation.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens drink and get drunk at a party; the main character drinks one beer and helps make sure others don't drink and drive.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that 1980s classic Say Anything survives as an excellent, coming-of-age movie for teens. Teens-to-be also may enjoy it, but it may not be suitable for them, with its teen drinking, teen sex, profanity (including one "f--k"), and parental betrayal. More than simply a teen film, it boasts fine performances, a lot of humor, and a well-chosen soundtrack. This is a true-to-life depiction of teen life. Both main characters deal with the pain of broken families and oppressive family expectations, which could spark discussion.
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A good way to teach girls early what real love looks like.
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What's the Story?
In SAY ANYTHING, a smart, funny story about growing up and struggling with imminent responsibilities, Lloyd (John Cusack) is a teenage kickboxer on no particular career path. Diane (Ione Skye) is a brainiac with an overprotective father (John Mahoney). After graduation, the opposites fall for each other, spend the summer together, and end up making love, the details of which Diane spills to her father. Her father wants more for his daughter than a future with a slacker like Lloyd -- she's set to go to England to study on a fellowship at the end of the summer. Under pressure from her father, Diane breaks up with Lloyd. But when she discovers that her father has been stealing from the retirement home he owns, she reconsiders. Lloyd's the one person she's come to trust.
Is It Any Good?
A frank portrait of teens on the cusp of adulthood, this movie mines a type of movie that has acquired a (deservedly) negative reputation and comes up with gold. You can call Say Anything a "teen flick," but writer/director Cameron Crowe (Almost Famous) tells a story about people who just happen to be teens. Utilizing stock elements of the genre -- hip soundtrack, slacker kids, and screwed-up families -- Crowe finds the stuff of great drama.
Much of the humor is found in adolescent awkwardness. Viewers can't help but feel Lloyd's angst as he asks Diane out, deals with her father, and evades an overzealous guidance counselor. But the movie's serious themes ring true as well. Diane's father isn't dismissed as a criminal who wants to keep the lovers apart; his stealing is a misguided effort to give his daughter the best of everything. Eric Stoltz (Some Kind of Wonderful) and Lili Taylor round out a superb supporting cast.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about why Diane trusts Lloyd in Say Anything and why Diane's father acts the way he does. Also, how do Diane and Lloyd cope with the stresses of teenage life?
Do you think this movie is still relevant? Why, or why not?
Why do you think this movie is considered a teen classic?
Do you think Diane and Lloyd are role models? Why, or why not?
How do the characters in Say Anything demonstrate gratitude, compassion, and integrity? Why are those important character strengths?
- In theaters: April 14, 1989
- On DVD or streaming: May 23, 2000
- Cast: Ione Skye, Joan Cusack, John Cusack
- Director: Cameron Crowe
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Drama
- Character Strengths: Compassion, Gratitude, Integrity
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: mature themes and sexuality
- Last updated: May 25, 2023
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