189 user 41 critic

Better Off Dead... (1985)

A teenager has to deal with his girlfriend dumping him among family crises, homicidal paper boys, and a rival skier.
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Demian Slade ...
Scooter Stevens ...
Ricky Smith (as Daniel Schneider)
Brian Imada ...
Aaron Dozier ...
Frank Burt Avalon ...
Roy's Ski Buddy #1


The teenager Lane Meyer has a crush on his girlfriend Beth Truss. When Beth dumps him to stay with the successful skier Roy Stalin, Lane is depressed and decides to commit suicide. However he gives up and tries to improve his skill of skier to ski the dangerous K12 slope to impress Beth. Meanwhile his neighbor Mrs. Smith receives the exchange French student Monique Junot and her fat son Ricky Smith considers Monique his girlfriend; however, Monique has an unrequited crush on Lane that does not note her. When Lane stumbles upon Monique in a high-school party, he befriends her. The upset Lane challenges Roy in a competition on the K12 slope but then he regrets. However Monique is a great mechanic and skier, and fix Lane's Camaro and teaches him how to ski the K12 slope. What will happen to Lane? Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Insanity doesn't run in the family, it gallops. See more »


Comedy | Romance


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

11 October 1985 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Better Off Dead  »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$56,371, 25 August 1985, Limited Release

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$10,297,601, 31 December 1985
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Henry Winkler was instrumental in getting the film made. In the early 1980s, Savage Steve Holland's short film, My 11-Year-Old Birthday Party, played at the Los Angeles Film Festival. Winkler saw the film and took a liking to Holland. At Winkler's suggestion, Holland checked out John Cusack in The Sure Thing (1985), which Winkler executive produced. After seeing the movie, Holland thought Cusack was perfect for the lead role. Holland had to fight to cast, as the studio didn't think he was much of a leading man, based on his nerdy turn in Sixteen Candles (1984). See more »


When Lane lights the three candles in the restaurant, the ambient light brightens much more than three candles would allow. See more »


Johnny: I want my two dollars!
See more »

Crazy Credits

As the credits roll, Badger's home-built space shuttle launches through the roof of the garage and soars into the night sky. See more »


Referenced in Family Guy: Road to Rupert (2007) See more »


Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover
Written and Performed by Paul Simon
See more »

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User Reviews

Bizarre. But disarmingly so.
18 December 2000 | by See all my reviews

John Cusack's girlfriend has just dumped him for the biggest jerk in school, and John deals with the depression, anger, and frustration in humorous ways. Slowly, he finds himself bonding with French exchange student Diane Franklin, a beautiful and clever young woman, that helps to build up Cusack's self-image so he can win his girlfriend back.

Better Off Dead follows a familiar basic storyline. Main likeable character is dealt a bad hand in life, pulls themselves up by their bootstraps, and ends up triumphing over the people who pushed them down. This formula led to such films as "Animal House", "Revenge of the Nerds", and "Porky's". Not that these films are bad, they are just similar in basic plot.

Better Off Dead however, adds a bizarre surreal quality unaccomplished by these other films. Perhaps this is due to the claymation hamburger sequence, or the unlikely skiing competition at the end of the film.

Or perhaps it's due to the parade of familiar faces from other 80's films. John Cusack's best friend is none other than Curtis Armstrong, best known as "Booger" in the Revenge of the Nerds movies. Next door neighbor and consummate slob Dan Schneider is recognizable as "Dennis" from the TV show "Head of the Class". Cusack's boss at the fast food joint is played by Chuck Wallace, the title character from "Porky's". And with a bit part, yet one the funniest in the whole film, Yano Anaya reprises his "Grover Dill" persona from "A Christmas Story" in the form of a vengeful paperboy. I WANT MY TWO DOLLARS!!!!

Also has some of the funniest lines in 80's teen comedy, such as Franklin's accidental misuse of the word "testicles", and the comment made by an onlooker when Cusack tumbles into a trash truck.

Definitely better than the majority of 1980's teen comedies.

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