Sunday, September 13, 2015

everybody wants some

I think the point to Better Off Dead... is obvious. That thing we call love drives us crazy, for better or for worse. We do stupid, crazy stuff like ski dangerous mountains or fix cars. We step outside our comfort zones to do some weird shit we would never do. Savage Steve Holland, who wrote and directed this movie supposedly really tried to hang himself from a pipe in his garage, but the pipe broke and his mother was mad at him for breaking the pipe.

And, when it's gone, life is like Mr. Kerber's math class--it just doesn't make any sense at all. Everyone else is perfectly happy; they all get it. But, you've got a mangled paper in your pocket with gum stuck in it, and all it says is DO HOMEWORK instead of, you know, having any actual answers on it... metaphorically. And, everybody else has books full of answers, printouts, file folders, and an eagerness to participate that seems impossible... again, metaphorically (on those books and printouts, anyway).

Better Off Dead... offers up a fairly straightforward view of life--love and togetherness good, loneliness bad. No shit. It's the 80s. It''s a romantic comedy. It ain't gonna be complicated.

There's usually more nuance to the real world, of course. Plenty of other stuff out there to make people happy than just love. Lloyd Dobler and Lane Myer might be obsessed, a little too focused on love, but what can you expect in a world where movies like this exist? Where books and movies tell us constantly that there's something wrong with us if we can't find someone to love. Hell, this movie even goes with a pseudo-take on what TV Tropes calls pairing the spares. Lane drives off with Monique in the end (leaving Beth with Roy presumably) and just to add an extra amusement for us all, Ricky even finds love in the end, when a girl who seems even more dorky than he is helps him up. No one gets to be alone.

Except Ricky's mother... and Charles De Mar. But, the way she appreciates that "liqueur" she could probably teach Charles a thing or two about altered states. As my daughter Saer might say, I ship it.

Don't get me wrong, though; it's nice, the adolescent notion of love as something... mad. It's an easy idea to embrace when you're sitting there in the dark of the movie theater, or your living room. The idea that there can be something so powerful, so all encompassing that it can overtake your life, be more important than your hobbies or your job (your skiing or kickboxing, for example)--that is something we could all use in our everyday lives. We've got school, we've got jobs, we've got chores and obligations. And then there is something... better out there, just waiting to make all that other stuff not matter so much.

Just takes some language lessons.

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