I love, love Better Off Dead beyond the telling of it. From the first time I saw in on HBO, I would watch it over and over — absolutely in love with the surreal absurdity. While Sixteen Candles is the first movie that I saw so many times that I actually memorized it — at age 10 — this is the film start started my lifelong crush on John Cusack. And added to my lifelong need to recite random pieces of movie dialogue.
I also adored Monique — the feisty, French brunette who was far, far better for Lane Meyer than that stupid, shallow blonde. (Yes, I have hair issues.) I practiced my “french accent” from Monique (“He keeps putting his testicles all over me. You know, like octopus? Testicles?”) which I thought was very convincing until our summer French Exchange student came by a few years later and mocked Monique incessantly. And, okay, it is really bad. But I was young!
It’s one of those ridiculously quotable movies, with ridiculously brilliant scenes and ridiculously perfect acting. And also, very important life lessons:
There’s a new Blu-Ray out of the Better Off Dead and yet again, there’s no extras. I wish there was a full commentary track plus outtakes, because it would bring so much joy it would probably create world peace by just existing. Until then, I’m just going to re-read EW’s mini-commentary with Director “Savage” Steve Holland. It’s too damn short for my liking, but it does give us gems like:
â€œThis movie is the most autobiographical movie ever made thatâ€™s just exaggerated,â€ Holland says (yes, his high school girlfriend dumped him for the captain of the ski team). â€œIt was very heartbreaking, and I did think about committing suicide. I did the stupidest thing, which made me kind of write the movie. I stood on a plastic garbage can with an extension cord around my neck going, â€˜Maybe I shouldnâ€™t do this. This might be the worst idea EVER,â€™ and then the garbage can lid caved in. The pipe that I had my little neck thing on broke, and it started to pour water into this garbage can that I was stuck in, so I was basically drowning in a garbage can, and then my mom came out and yelled at me for breaking a pipe. First of all, I was very grateful that the pipe broke and that everything worked out. But I thought of stupid ways that people try to kill themselves, and I was like, â€˜Wow, life is just really short.â€™ It was a big lesson to me. Nothingâ€™s that serious.â€