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:
“This movie is the most autobiographical movie ever made that’s just exaggerated,” Holland says (yes, his high school girlfriend dumped him for the captain of the ski team). “It 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, ‘Maybe I shouldn’t do this. This might be the worst idea EVER,’ 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, ‘Wow, life is just really short.’ It was a big lesson to me. Nothing’s that serious.”