Tuesday, December 14, 2010

12 Days of Favorites: Better Off Dead

The story of Love & Squalor begins many years before the fateful meeting of Wilde.Dash and M, long before the almost nightly movie marathons on uncomfortable and rank smelling dorm furniture and Sound of Music sing-a-longs. From the mid 80’s on, unaware of each others’ presence, M and Wilde.Dash were bonding with family, not over board games or a large family meal (ok, there was a lot of that too), but over the likes of Woody Allen and Walter Pidgeon. The holidays in said families were filled with the usual Christmas fair, but also with strange family film favorites and traditions. So hang your stockings with care and when your sister starts complaining about your billionth viewing of It’s a Wonderful Life and how boooooring it is, spend your 12 Days of Christmas with the movies that have followed Love & Squalor from infancy to bloggerhood.

Better Off Dead, how do I love you?  Let me count the ways.  1. I love you for your forever quotable lines..."gee, Ricky, I'm sorry your mom blew up,"  "it has raisins in it, you like raisins," "do you know the street value of this mountain?"  "Fronch fries, Fronch dressing, and Peru!" "They speak the international language," the term "auto cocoon."  2. I love you for making attempted teen suicide quite literally amongst the funniest things I have ever seen.  3. Your glorious claymation hamburger/Van Halen musical number.  4. For being one of the smartest, slickest teen comedies around. 5. For John Cusack...I could go on and on.  Once upon a time my family watched Better Off Dead and, it was, essentially the result of a mistake.  It was a different time, and IMDB wasn't for common folk.  While I have no idea why this was happening, I remember that my dad had been on the  hunt for the film featuring a character named Booger, remembering only that he might be played by Curtis Armstrong.  Before he got around to supposing it might be Revenge of the Nerds, he'd checked out Better Off Dead.  Best. Mistake. Ever.  In our house, Better Off Dead took on a life of its own.  It's one of those rare movies no one will object to watching even after they've seen it some 15+ times.  In conversation, the references pop up with astonishing regularity.  Lane Meyer's (John Cusack) infatuation with Beth was the textbook example for how not to manage your relationships when the younger sibling fell into puppy love, there's no way of knowing how many times a variation on the aardvark coat has been sighted, that aforementioned "raisin" line?  Every time a raisin shows up in a food product.  Better Off Dead is an almost untouchable piece of comedy gold that effectively brightens up the dark pit of teen angst, stashes a sneaky sports underdog story at its core, and delivers the goods on memorable characters.  If it weren't so damn funny, it might be upsetting.  But, I dare you to consider that while you're watching it.

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