Better Off Dead… and One Crazy Summer

American Cinematheque at the Aero, June 23

Left to right: Armstrong, Franklin, Holland

An Open Letter to John Cusack: Don't Be A Dick

Hey, Cusack – let's just level with each other, OK? We know you are a smart guy. We know you are prodigiously talented when you apply yourself. And we know that you are passionately committed to films with a powerful message; witness the resonance today of such milestones of cinema as Hot Pursuit, Money For Nothing and Must Love Dogs. (Kidding! None of them can hold a candle to Fat Man and Little Boy) But sometimes it pays to take a step back from the ups and downs of ones career and reevaluate what you thought you got wrong. And when it comes to the films you did with Savage Steve Holland, which you legendarily did your best to distance yourself from from the get-go and which you refuse to talk about today, it's time to check the ego and feel the love.

Charles De Mar forgot to bring his trademark top hat (which he stole from George Harrison in Help. True story!)

Franklin brought her kids, which must have been jarring for all the guys who had foreign exchange fantasies about her back in the day

It was hard not to revel in it at the American Cinematheque's double feature at the Aero on Friday night, packed to the gills with cinema geeks, including staffers from rep giant the New Beverly Theater on their night off. There were Gen Xers – some of whom brought their kids – and a whole new generation of fans who have come to adore Holland's 1985 opus Better Off Dead… – and to a lesser though palpable extent, 1986's One Crazy Summer, which let's not forget features one of the archetypal performances of one Sir Bobcat of Goldthwait – for exactly what it is: gleefully outrageous, and superbly silly fun. And if you can really clear your head, John, and dig deeper than the marvelous pratfalls, gross-out sight gags and the lot, there's great material in Savage Steve's work that speaks directly to teen insecurities, discovering the courage to be the person we want to be, and good old fashioned l'amour; as a fan in pointed out during the Q&A, neither of these films is any less a goofy farce than it is a romantic comedy at heart. These flicks spoke just as loudly to their audience as any of John Hughes' CV, and truthfully, both of them are ten times smarter than Weird Science. Fact.

Savage Steve gets his TWO DOLLARS!!

So it's a shame you missed it, John – Savage Steve himself was there, delighting in the fans' response, telling some brilliant anecdotes during a very long Q&A and even allowing one bonkers fan to cart his cardboard box of memorabilia up to the stage before the questions were through. We had the still-gorgeous Diane Franklin (Better Off Dead…'s lovely Monique), and the legend that is Curtis Armstrong (who may yet be Booger to some, but his work in the Holland films – especially BOD's Charles De Mar – is amongst the best comedic gold of its time: “This is pure snow! Do you have any idea what the street value of this mountain is?!”) We haven't given up on you yet, though, Cusack, you've still got time to come around. Maybe it'll hit you like a ton of bricks on the shoot for The Ice Harvest 2.

LA Weekly