DVD Vault: Better Off Dead (1985)

BY KERY LAWSON | JUNE 10, 2009 7:26 AM

A place for us to reminisce about the movies we loved, lost, and still live for to this day.

Better Off Dead, 1985

Directed by Savage Steve Holland. Starring John Cusack, David Ogden Stiers, and Kim Darby.

“You’ve blown up your neighbor’s mom. Your 7-year-old brother has better luck with women than you do. Your girlfriend has a new boyfriend. Relax, you’re never …” Better Off Dead, the 1985 dark teen-angst comedy.

As if a teenage John Cusack (who talks to his own drawings as high-schooler Lane Meyer) isn’t awesome enough, we have the lengendary David Ogden Stiers (Charles Winchester of “M.A.S.H.” ) as his father.

This ’80s teenage rendering of It’s a Wonderful Life brings up the really important stuff in modern existence: paying the paper boy (I am convinced that the creepy hockey murderers in Dogma are based on the paper boy who goes to extravagant lengths to get his “TWO DOLLARS”), French foreign-exchange students (who are not mail-order brides), skiing jocks, snobby ex-girlfriends, and repairing old cars. Lane’s guardian angel drinks lighter fluid for fun, and there’s a remarkable moment when the lovely French exchange student Monique mistakes “testicles” for “tentacles.”

Better Off Dead is so dry it hurts — sandpaper cries when it sees this movie. And so do I.

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