Sometime during the spring of my freshman year at college, a friend of mine decided to break out a big romantic gesture for his girlfriend of just a few weeks – they weren’t celebrating anything special, no anniversary or holiday to peg it to, he just wanted to do something – and he decided to recreate the infamous boombox scene from Say Anything. It went over like gangbusters. He drove his truck to the back of her dorm, stood in the bed of it, and blasted Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” for everyone to hear. I’m certain that was part of the charm – his girlfriend heard it, the rest of her dorm heard it, people walking to class heard it. (She was, to put it delicately, a bit of a show-off.)
Most importantly, everyone seemed to get it. Cameron Crowe’s film was nearly fifteen years old when this particularly over-the-top expression of love occurred, and although I’d never dare to compare the epic love story that was Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) and Diane Court (Ione Skye) with a pair of dumb college kids eager to make their affections public in a world pre-Facebook, they did have something in common – neither couple is still together.
Crowe’s film turns twenty-five-years-old today, as the filmmaker’s first feature arrived in theaters on Friday, April 14, 1989. The film faced off with two other new releases: Disorganized Crime and She’s Out of Control (which, notably enough, featured Matthew Perry in one of his first film roles). Major League came out the week before. Pet Sematary and Field of Dreams would arrive the week after. It didn’t make a tremendous amount of money – just about $21M across its entire release – but it still made more than Crowe’s Singles did three years later, and it was a first feature. Ultimately, the film was the fifty-second highest earner of 1989. Not too shabby, right?
Box office earnings aside, the film was well received on the critical side (over at Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 98% rating – Crowe’s highest) and it remains a modern classic of the romantic dramedy genre.
It is also a love story with a traditionally happy ending that is still worth wondering about. Say Anything ends with Lloyd and Diane heading off to London so that Diane can embark on her snazzy (and long-looming) fellowship. The duo have already been through quite a bit – a stop-and-start romance, bad advice from friends, a break-up complete with a pen consolation prize, Ice Man Power Lloyd, more bad advice from friends, and her father’s incarceration for bilking the IRS – and exiting America for a new adventure certainly sounds like a nice way to start over.
But nobody thinks it will work. No, really. Diane even says to Lloyd, “Nobody thinks it will work, do they?” to which Lloyd responds with the most perfect line: “No. You just described every great success story.”
It’s implicit in what happens next that Crowe believes – or, at the very least, wants us to believe – that Lloyd and Diane turn out okay. Diane, who has never flown, is totally freaked out by the experience. Lloyd, however, has a theory – the old “if anything happens, it’ll usually be in the first five minutes of the flight” theory. Lloyd’s take is that “when you hear the smoking sign go ‘ding’, you know everything’s going to be okay,” because the first five minutes of the flight are now over (also, how weird is it to think about smoking signs on planes?). The two hold tight, stare at the sign, and wait.
It goes ding. The screen goes black. The credits roll. Everything’s going to be okay.
Even as a kid – I estimate that I saw the film around the age of eight or nine, when it played on television, as there is no way I caught it in theatrical release at our little one-screen movie theater at the age of five – I didn’t think that Lloyd and Diane were in for the long haul. I wasn’t a cynic in the single digits, but even I didn’t think their relationship was feasible, mainly because I worried (somewhat obsessively) about what Lloyd would do in London. Did they have kickboxing gyms in England? Wasn’t he going to miss his sister and nephew? Would they have to go back to visit her dad in jail and didn’t that sound just goddamn terrible?
My stance on the matter hasn’t changed – even though it still makes me kind of sad.
To celebrate the film’s anniversary in the most accidentally depressing way ever, I conducted a poll (via Twitter and email, score one for technology) that asked the simple question: are Lloyd and Diane still together? Almost overwhelmingly, people said no. (And, yes, I realize that this is entirely theoretical, I’m not that obsessed with the film.)
The few people who do think that Lloyd and Diane are still together don’t mince words about their feelings – they are in it for the romance of it all. Our own Allison Loring shared, “I’m a hopeless romantic so I think they’re still together. I think Diane needs Lloyd’s unabashed optimism in her life and Lloyd needs Diane’s more pragmatic outlook to anchor him in reality. They work because they balance each other, they still fight and make each other crazy, but in the end, they simply love each other and can’t imagine being with anyone else. They believe high school love can last, and so theirs does.” JoBlo writer James Oster also sees his take on the romance as one rooted in optimism, saying: “I’m an optimist so yes. Hell, I met my wife at the same time and we are still happily together.”
But the majority, those who think that the pair didn’t make it, keep it quick and simple. IndieWire’s Sam Adams actually answered my query first, sharing on Twitter, “…no way. Underachievers don’t stay charming forever.” MovieWeb’s Brian Gallagher had a similar take, writing in response to my question: “Nah. He’s probably too busy buying, selling and processing stuff…”
Our own Chris Campbell weighed in, too, writing: “Nobody lasts that long from that early in life.” Jordan Hoffman, film critic to many, took a different approach as to why it didn’t work out, sharing on Twitter: “Definitely not together but because of Dad in jail they lasted 2 years instead of 8 months.”
Elsewhere, people just said “no.” Nobody thought it would work back then, and few people think it will work twenty-five years down the road. But doesn’t that describe every great success story?
What do you think: are Lloyd and Diane still together?