Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Better off Dead

Lane Myer will do anything to win back the love of his life after she dumps him for the captain of the ski team. One part teen romance, one part farce, and one part black comedy, Better off Dead was more or less destined for cult status the minute it left the cutting room. Watch what happens when a young John Cusack puts his budding career in the hands of a guy who calls himself “Savage Steve Holland.” He honestly has no one to blame but himself.

  • For being the feature film debut from the guy who created Eek! the Cat = +25pts 
  • At what point does the number of photos of your girlfriend on your wall go from saying “love-struck teen” to “future murder-suicide?” = -7pts 
  • Socks in the shower. = -10pts (Eeeeeeeewwwwwwwww) 
  • Almost positive the paperboy in this movie was a pre-Super Mario Bros. attempt to bring a popular video game character to the big screen. = +9pts 
  • Constant jokes about the mom being a terrible cook. In 1985 = +6pts; in 2013 = -18pts. Final score = -12pts 
  • Did everyone in the ‘80s have black and white 8x10s of themselves? = +3pts 
  • Casting Booger from Revenge of the Nerds as the wacky best friend. = +22pts 
  • John Cusack’s romantic rival is named “Ray Stalin.” = +10pts 
  • …And he’s about thirty years old. = -5pts 
  • Suicide attempt #1: Death by hanging. =+1pt (Why did Beth want to break up with this guy, again?) 
  • Geometry teacher’s lectures are just a random assemblage of mathematical jargon that, when combined, don’t even form complete sentences. =+18pts (He’s like the William S. Burroughs of math teachers) 
  • Wait, the condom broke? Did Beth have an abortion? Lane’s in-class flashback steers this movie into some dark territory. =-12pts 
  • Most perplexing piece of motivational romantic advice ever given: “The K12, dude. You make a gnarly run like that, and girls will get sterile just looking at you.” =-1pt 
  • ‘80s fashion alert: Girl dressed as Boy George sitting at Lane’s lunch table. =+2pts 
  • Lane’s drawing of a monster eating Roy Stalin. In 1985, a whimsical display of teen angst = +10pts; in 2013, an expellable offense that would precipitate court-ordered therapy = -20pts. Final Score= -10pts 
  • Can’t tell if boy with roller skates is gay, or if it’s just the ‘80s. =-3pts 
  • ‘80s fashion alert: Girl in Thriller jacket. = +5pts 
  • ‘80s fashion alert: The Terminator shades on the chunky kid standing behind Lane in the lunch line. = +4pts 
  • Kris Cremins really should have seen the disrobing incident coming when she decided to wear a tearaway stripper outfit to school in lieu of her actual cheerleading uniform. = +11pts 
  • Suicide attempt #2: leaping into expressway. = +2pts 
  • Lane’s parents are going to do weird sex stuff in that aardvark coat. = +12pts 
  • Suicide Attempt #3: death by carbon monoxide. = +3pts 
  • Quintessential '80s moment: Live band at school dance singing a song with the name of the movie in it. =+25pts 
  • ‘80s fashion alert: The Dracula collar on Roy’s leather sweatervest. = +9pts 
  • ‘80s fashion alert: The Freddy Krueger sweater on the kid in Roy's entourage. = +12pts 
  • ‘80s fashion alert: The shapeless frock the French exchange student is wearing. =+3pts 
  • We're pretty sure the “foreign exchange student” is actually just a victim of human trafficking. =-10pts 
  • Night of the Living Paperboys = +23pts 
  • All of those women in Badger’s room are child sex predators. =-15pts 
  • Mom cooking some kind of Lovecraftian horror. =+7pts 
  • And now, for no reason, a Claymation Van Halen music video. =+39pts 
  • Suicide attempt #4: Self-immolation. =+4pts (But does he really need to get in yellow-face first? =-20pts) Final score = -16pts 
  • Not sure how we didn’t notice this before, but the neighbor lady has a HUUUUUGE rack. = +8pts 
  • Aw, Lane’s unholy Frankenburger creation has found true love, too! =+5pts 
  • Quintessential '80s moment(s): Not one, but TWO montages showing incremental improvement. = +17pts
  • So, wait, the French girl is fluently bilingual, a professional mechanic, and an Olympic-level skier. We suspect she’s actually Batgirl on vacation. =-14pts 
  • Lane outraces Roy down the K12, thanks to a single afternoon of skiing with Monique, which somehow has advanced his skills farther than his entire lifetime of training. =-10pts 
  • Apparently Beth’s only consideration when picking a mate is whether he’s the best skier in her line of sight. =-11pts 
  • Ricky gets his own happy ending! =+5pts 
  • Camera pans away from Lane, Monique, Lane’s sax, and the Camaro in the center of Dodgers Stadium, just as the paperboy bears down upon them with furious speed. = +22pts (For sparing us the sight of the grisly slaughter that surely ensued after the fade to black.)
Total Score = +163pts
Available on: DVD, a list of warning signs that your partner may be unstable

Better off Dead is the story of an alienated teen who develops an unhealthy obsession with his high school girlfriend and becomes suicidally unstable when she leaves him for another boy. We’re pretty sure that’s the plot to at least 25% of the movies on Lifetime, and none of those are (intentional) comedies. In fact, if the movie hadn’t ended in Lane and Monique’s brutal murder by the unkillable paperboy, it’s pretty likely that Lane would have ended up shooting both Monique and himself during a depressive spell sometime in their college years. Cute stuff.

Score Technician: Joe Hemmerling

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