Better Off Dead... ★★★★

An imaginative semi-cult teen comedy that’s ten times better than almost any John Hughes movie. John Cusack stars as Lane Myers, a quirky high-school kid who’s just been dumped by girlfriend Beth (Amanda Wyss). The only way Lane can win her back is to triumph on the hazardous K-12 ski slope. Then he meets beautiful French foreign-exchange student Monique (Diane Franklin) and forgets all about Beth. That’s about all that’s conventional in this inventive, sometimes surreal feature debut from former animator Savage Steve Holland, who has a deadpan ironic style that perfectly matches Cusack’s performance. Get a load of the psychotic paper boy (“Two dollars!!”) and the totally gratuitous (but great) dancing-Claymation-hamburger video for Van Halen’s “Everybody Wants Some.” Lots of classic sight gags, too, which shall not be spoiled here. Rent it along with Savage Steve’s next, One Crazy Summer, also with Cusack and Curtis Armstrong (memorable here as a wastoid who snorts everything). Where the heck is Savage Steve now?