CONCORD — John Cusack, who has been chatting with audiences across the country about some of his signature movie roles, is headed to the Capitol Center for the Arts for a screening of his break-out role in 1989’s “Say Anything” and a Q&A with fans.
Cusack’s charm has always been imbuing characters with a sense of being adrift or out of their depth while tapping into an inner strength and resolve to take the next step. In “Say Anything,” he gives endearingly driftless kickboxer Lloyd Dobler a relatable earnestness. And thirty years after Lloyd summoned up the courage to ask out high school valedictorian Dian Court (played by Ione Skye), audiences are still pulling for him.
Part of his appeal is his knack for quips. Cusack turns stream-of-consciousness rambling into clever commentary with a wry smile that’s half grin and half grimace. (Take Lloyd’s response when Diane’s father (played by John Mahoney) asks what he plans to do with his life: “I’ve thought about this quite a bit, sir, and I would have to say considering what’s waiting out there for me, I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed or buy anything sold or processed or repair anything sold, bought or processed as a career. I don’t want to do that. My father’s in the army. He wants me to join, but I can’t work for that corporation, so what I’ve been doing lately is kick-boxing, which is a new sport…as far as career longevity, I don’t really know. I can’t figure it all out tonight, sir, so I’m just gonna hang with your daughter.”
Cusack, who has done more than 70 movies over the past four decades, has also done screenings and Q&As for his signature films “Grosse Point Blank,” about a conflicted hit man who reconnects with the girl he stood up at the prom (Minnie Driver), and “High Fidelity,” in which Cusack is the owner of a failing record store who must come to terms with his life, love and inescapable adulthood.
The screenings for “Say Anything” aren’t as rowdy as, say, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” but expect some crowd reactions, especially to that now iconic boom box-raising scene in which an aching Lloyd stands outside Diane’s house and blasts Peter Gabriel’s haunting “In Your Eyes.”
And, of course, that classic line: “I gave her my heart and she gave me a pen.”
Ranked by Entertainment Weekly as one of the greatest modern movie romances, “Say Anything” was ranked No. 11 on the list of 50 best high-school movies.