Just look at him. Isn’t he so dang handsome?
John Cusack has been one of my favorite leading men since the 1980s. I’m not sure if it’s the underdog characters he plays or those puppy dog eyes or that voice—that deep, indescribable voice that tells anyone listening he’s cool, he’s smart, he’s irresistible, and he always gets the girl.
Not in conventional ways, but he gets her. And I sigh, swoon, and ha cha cha.
His first romantic comedy is the 1985 cult classic, Better Off Dead. In this National Lampoon-esque teen comedy Cusack plays Lane Myer, a teenager who’s slightly suicidal after his girlfriend breaks up with him for a jock—a jock who can ski some crazy mountain. He dares said jock in a ski race, thus sealing his fate. While training, he befriends a cute little French exchange student, is stalked by the paperboy for his pay (that classic line will forever stay with me, “I want my two dollars”), gets stuck street racing two Asian brothers who learned to speak English by listening to Howard Cosell, is forced to eat his mother’s lethal cooking, and hates his job as a cook at a burger joint. It features songs by David Lee Roth, Booger from Revenge of the Nerds, and claymation dance ensembles. Can’t get anymore ’80s than that.
Cusack followed up with another campy teen romantic comedy, One Crazy Summer. And it is one crazy movie set in Nantucket and co-starring Demi Moore, Bobcat Goldthwait, Joel Murray (Bill Murray’s brother, and Curtis Armstrong (Booger). Jeremy Piven even has a small role.
Hoops McCann doesn’t get a basketball scholarship to college (’cause he sucks). He really wants to go to art school where his passion lies with drawing cartoons. Again, the hot chick is his elusive prize and her jerk boyfriend keeps trying to beat him up. And of course the jerk can play basketball. Hoops is also afraid of boats, and of course challenges said jerk to a boat race. Demi Moore’s character, Cassandra, is a hippie-ish lounge singer who helps Hoops try and get the girl and they fall for each other in the process. This movie also has King Kong, cartoons, a jaws costume, a crazy looking dog who wear a cone, and one of the funniest fart scenes ever. (This is secretly my favorite movie of his!)
Next, is the end-all-be-all of ’80s romantic teen movies, Say Anything. Oh, Lloyd Dobler, when are you going to stand outside my window blasting Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” from a boom-box? Lloyd Dobler went for the golden girl and got his heart stomped. While Say Anything had its comedic moments, this film was far more dramatic then his previous two. John Cusack stole all our hearts when his got shattered. You all remember the famous line, “I gave her my heart and she gave me a pen.” In the end, the golden girl realizes how awesome Lloyd is and goes to win him back. I liked that most about the movie.
It took him nearly eight years to do another Romantic Comedy after that, and when he did, the film was on the dark side. Grosse Point Blank is about a man returning home for his high school reunion. But he’s a professional hitman and his next mark is his high school sweetheart’s dad. Minnie Driver plays his love interest and their comedic chemistry sizzles.
He followed that up with the cult classic, High Fidelity, about the record store owner trying to figure out why he keeps getting dumped and seeks out his ex-girlfriends to prevent said love of his life from leaving him. That was followed by America’s Sweethearts starring Julia Roberts, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Hank Azaria, and Billy Crystal. The cast alone says enough, but in case you need more, Cusack plays a Hollywood actor who thinks he is still in love with his leading lady, Catherine Zeta-Jones, but finds out he really loves her formerly fat sister, Julia Roberts.
In Serendipity he longs for Kate Beckinsale after a chance meeting, and years later hopes for a chance reunion before he gets married. Must Love Dogs is one of the first Romantic Comedies to deal with internet dating. The lovely Diane Lane places an ad and meets the adorable dog-loving Cusack. Antics ensue and Lane has the most adorable street chasing scene fresh from the pedicure chair.
You can’t go wrong with a Cusack Romantic Comedy. John Cusack will forever be one of my Hollywood Husbands and my Romantic King of Comedy. Who’s yours?