Better Off Dead... ★★★

My wife told me this was a classic, but then confessed that she "probably hadn't seen it all the way through" which is annoying because she's been saying "I want my two dollars" to me for 22 years.

This is a pretty insubstantial teen comedy, fairly gentle compared to other genre films. John Cusack is plenty cute and charming, and his romantic interest steals a few scenes, but everyone else ranges from "unpleasant" to "abhorrent" and so it's unfortunate that we have to spend so much time with them. I mean, I remember being 16, but not every teacher, boss, parent, neighbor, fellow student, romantic interest, and relative was a sneering villain.

I chuckled at a few sight gags. And there's a brainy, absurdist sensibility about things which I'm sure was pretty rare in teen comedies of the time. Seems like the kind of thing someone could really connect with and embrace, but I'm not terribly likely to watch it again.

(With the plot really centering around high school relationships and the captaincy of the ski team, I was wondering if my 12yos would find anything to identify with, but they got into it. We did consider turning it off in the first act, but it got better. They did notice a reference back to Frankenstein, so we can thank Svengoolie again for partially solving my children's woeful cultural illiteracy.)

Dan liked this review