Doubt That the Stars Are Fire

Say Anything's saving grace
Say Anything's saving grace

I know I’m a snob. In my defense, I came by it honestly. My father was a snob; his father was a snob; his father’s father was a snob, and on and on, traversing time and space, to Brooklyn, to Minsk, to Russia, to Palestine, through vast history to the Garden of Eden, which a relative of mine chose to leave because it “lacked imagination.”

Speaking of snobbery, I’m here, at this late hour, to introduce round three, in which our heroes battle it out over the relative value of tragedy versus comedy. Being a snob (and a morbid soul) I’ll be defending tragedy, which would seem, in the case of Shakespeare movies, to be the lighter load, as I don’t know anybody – anybody – who likes Shakespeare’s comedies.

But, since you’ve been brave enough to take the burnt side of this particular piece of toast, the least I can do is provide you with fodder for your morning post. And here it is:

Concerning Kenneth Branagh’s 2000 musical re-imagining of Shakespeare's farce of mistaken identity and mislaid dirty letters Love’s Labor’s Lost, I have three questions:

1) Do you think when Branagh was casting the movie, he looked at Matthew Lillard and thought to himself, “Let's see, he can’t sing, he can’t dance, and he can’t pronounce Shakespeare’s lines. He’s perfect!”?

2) What in the world are the songs of George Gershwin and Cole Porter doing in this movie?

3) Do women in love really giggle that much when they’re around their girlfriends talking about boys?

As for your list of great high school movies, I will give you Show Me Love (and hate myself for not thinking of it first), Igby Goes Down, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, and Splendor in the Grass. But Hoosiers and Hoop Dreams are sports movies, so they don’t count. Stand and Deliver is pure schmaltz. Pump Up the Volume and Heathers are movies from a frozen moment of our misguided youth and should remain there. Pleasantville and But I’m a Cheerleader are fine but not as good as you want them to be. Can’t Hardly Wait is a piece of garbage (plus, it's responsible for the rash of godawful teen movies that clogged up movie theatres in the late 90s). And the others I haven’t seen, so I can’t very well concede those.

And as for Say Anything, I’ve got something to say on that. I long ago resigned myself to the fact that I would never be half the man Lloyd Dobler is in the eyes of every single woman from my generation I might ever hope to sleep with. That’s fine. But what people fail to remember when they’re swooning over Lloyd blasting “In Your Eyes,” Lloyd kicking glass from his date’s path, and Lloyd sniffling in the rain, “I gave her my heart and she gave me a pen,” is that the other half of that movie is a painfully dull, maudlin, and creepy story about a father and a daughter who are a little bit too enamored with each other and whose lives fall apart when it comes to light that the father has been stealing money from the old-folks home he manages. What?!! Please! That subplot is unwatchable.

Just give me Lili Taylor and we’ll call it a day.

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