Movie Monologue Monday – John Cusack in Say Anything…

This week’s Movie Monologue Monday is taking a look at John Cusack’s performance as Lloyd Dobler in Say Anything…

I think this is an important piece for young actors to watch for a few reasons.

First, it’s a great performance. We’re watching a young actor hold his own with the likes of John Mahoney. Note his remarkable stillness, which has come up time and time again on Movie Monologue Monday. Also note his subtle use of facial expression. He’s very even with his face but uses it effectively when it counts. I love the little move he makes just before he starts the speech (right after Mahoney says, “No, really.”) There’s a great deal of weight there. We learn much about his character in the eye shift and the throat clearing.

Second, I think young people will identify with the content of the piece. In the film, Dobler’s girlfriend (played here by Ione Skye) is very self-assured and knows exactly where she’s going with her life. And Dobler clearly doesn’t. Many young people wrestle with this notion that they should know exactly where they’re headed in life but don’t.

Lastly is the content itself. This is a great piece for script analysis and discussion. I think it’s very open to interpretation what he’s actually saying here.

Here are some questions to ask your class to get the discussion rolling:

  • Is he “totally and completely serious” as he says?
  • Has he really “thought about this quite a bit?”
  • Is he sincere in his list of things he doesn’t want to do with his life? Or is the list just a rambling string of text that he hopes will pass for an answer?
  • Is it hard for him to talk to the father like this or does he not care about impressing adults?
  • Is he serious about kickboxing or is it something to do while he figures out what he wants with his life? (for the sake of argument, take him at his word that he is a pretty decent kickboxer)
  • On a scale of 1 to 10 – How comfortable is he in this situation?
  • Where do you think the character will be 20 years from now?

About the author

Craig Mason