Welcome to "Then and Now," a bloghop hosted by The Armchair Squid, Suze, Nicki Elson and Nancy Mock. Tell us about a movie you loved when you were younger and have come to see differently over time - for better or for worse.
A great lead character and outstanding writing are usually enough for me and Say Anything... certainly ranks among my all-time favorites. However, the ending of the film - particularly the fate of the father/adversary character - has always bothered me. I've never been sure why. But in pondering this bloghop, I believe I've finally figured it out.
My apologies to those of you unfamiliar with the film. A quick synopsis:
Lloyd has just graduated from high school. He has modest prospects and modest ambitions, apart from a big old crush on the class valedictorian, Diane Court (Ione Skye). Diane, regretful over the fact that she doesn't know her classmates better, is charmed by his advances and agrees to a date. They start spending more time together and become quite the item.
Diane's father, Jim (John Mahoney), is not so keen on Lloyd. He recognizes the intellectual superstar in his daughter and wants her to pursue every opportunity, including a prestigious fellowship to study in England. For Jim, Lloyd is a pest.
I'm okay with everything so far, until...
Jim is skimming off the top at the nursing home he runs and the IRS comes a-knockin'. He is arrested and carted off to jail. More importantly to our story, his integrity with his daughter plummets beyond repair and she is now free to pursue love with Lloyd, in addition to the fellowship. The dragon is vanquished, the princess won.
As noted above, this ending has never sat very well with me. I get it from Lloyd's perspective. Jim's fall from grace has to be total for his daughter to lose faith in him. Lloyd carries the day, rah rah! But from Jim's perspective, I feel the punishment outweighs his crimes. I don't mean the tangible crimes against society. He deserves what he gets for stealing from the people he was supposed to protect. I mean his crimes as Lloyd's antagonist.
Jim Court is basically a good father. Yes, he is living vicariously through his daughter but it's not as if he's pushing her towards something she doesn't want. He's encouraging her to fulfill her own potential. Their relationship is a healthy one. He treats her with love and respect. The movie's title comes from the confrontation between father and daughter about the nature of her relationship with Lloyd. When she confesses - a bit too gleefully for his tastes - that they'd had sex for the first time that night, he doesn't betray her trust. Even though he's clearly upset by the revelation, he does nothing to shame her. He's not perfect but he's definitely not the rotten parent you see in so many teen movies. As both character and actor, he's a big part of why this movie stands apart in my mind from others of its genre.
By the end of the movie, Jim is a shattered man. Bitter disappointment really would have been enough.
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