High-schooler Lane Myer (John Cusack), whose girlfriend Beth (Amanda Wyss) dumps him for the arrogant and bullying captain of the high school ski team, Roy Stalin (Aaron Dozier). Lane cannot get past this rejection and decides that death is the only way out of his misery. His half-hearted attempts at suicide, however, always fail, with comic consequences. Lane’s family is odd: his mother, Jenny (Kim Darby) is a sort of deranged Stepford wife and perhaps the world’s worst cook; his genius little brother, Badger (Scooter Stevens), never speaks but can build lasers and attract trashy women; and his father, Al (David Ogden Stiers) is convinced Lane is using drugs. As Lane attempts to either end his life or win back his ex-girlfriend, he gradually gets to know a new girl: a French foreign-exchange student named Monique (Diane Franklin). She is staying with Lane’s neighbors (Laura Waterbury and Daniel Schneider) across the street, who are so annoying that she pretends she cannot speak English. Monique turns out to be a fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers (as she calls them) and is a tough, confident soul. She helps Lane fix up his 1967 Camaro and rekindles Lane’s confidence and his will to live through “language lessons” in the international language of love…

“Better Off Dead” is on one hand a classic 80s high school comedy, but as well surreal and dark. I reckon this is part of the problem with the film. It simply doesn´t know which leg to stand on and thus it becomes neither. I felt as well that several parts/scenes seemed so random and didn´t really connect (clay Hamburgers, animations, two asian brothers who just wants to race, a stalking paperboy..). Logic is not really on the agenda here. John Cusack works as Lane, but at the same time Lane feels just like the same sort of high school character Cusack did in a couple of films back then. According to Savage Steve Holland, Cusack didn’t like the film. Cusack walked out of a screening as both were making “One Crazy Summer”, later confronting Holland saying it “was the worst thing I have ever seen. I will never trust you as a director ever again, so don’t speak to me.” Holland claims that Cusack felt he had been made to look foolish and that his comments “made me not care about movies anymore.” However, in a 2013 Reddit “Ask Me Anything” chat, when asked if he hated filming “Better Off Dead”, Cusack responded “No, I just thought it could have been better, but I think that about almost all my films. I have nothing against the film. . . . Glad people love it still.” (2 and a half out of 5)

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