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Reviews & Ratings for
Better Off Dead... More at IMDbPro »

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17 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Have You All Gone Mad?

Author: BloodTheTelepathicDog from north dakota
7 March 2010

The IMDb user rating seems a bit excessive. Now, I like John Cusack (he was great in Grosse Pointe Blank and Eight Men Out) and I enjoy teen comedies like Ferris Bueller's Day Off, but this flick is about as bad as a movie can get. A dark comedy with very little edge and even less laughter, this was one of the biggest disappointments I have seen in recent memory. Now I know why it was listed for one cent on

The story concerns high schooler Cusack whose girlfriend, played by Amanda Wyss (Shakma) leaves him for a boorish jock. The film's title come from Cusack believing himself to be better off dead than minus Amanda Wyss. So, he tries to commit suicide (he really doesn't, his foolish attempts only give credence to the fact that he can't score at anything) a couple times during the film. Savage Steve Holland tries to coax laughs out of an eccentric family, Cusack's best pal that snorts snow and a deranged newspaper boy demanding his money. It's films like this that give teen comedies a bad name.

STORY: $$$ (There was plenty room here for Holland to give his viewers the goods but his writing skills are wanting to say the least. He fails to build any sort darkness out of John Cusack's character making his suicidal sojourns pointless and flat. Holland was dealt a hanging curveball and popped the darn thing up).

ACTING: $$ (Rather weak here as well. Genre favorites Curtis Armstrong, Vincent Schiavelli and Amanda Wyss do their thing and try to give this some substance but fail. Cusack is far better in other films and David Ogden Steirs is wasted as John's father).

SEXUALITY: $ (Little of note here. The sexy Tina Littlewood is accidentally stripped in the school cafeteria and blushes in her underwear).

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Booger Hath I Loved. (spoilers)

Author: Pepper Anne from Orlando, Florida
19 August 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I picked up this movie to see my favorite 80s comedy actor, Curtis Armstrong who is probably best known for his role as Booger in 'Revenge of the Nerds' or Miles in 'Risky Business.' He's just as good here as the 6-year high school senior and Lane Meyer's friend Charels.

Better Off Dead, sister movie of One Crazy Summer, is one hell of an oddball film for the 80s teen category. It is a mix of strange humor, animated sequences (drawn by writer/director Savage Steve Holland), and a loveable star, to pull off quite an entertaining, and hopefully not too obscure, 80s teen comedy.

John Cusak is his typical outrageous teenager character in his role as Lane Meyer, the same type of character we saw in One Crazy Summer, Hot Pursuit, and others; the one where he is always a regular nice guy who somehow gets caught up in unforseen crazy situations. But Better Off Dead offers the most off-the-wall atmosphere for such a seemingly level-headed kid.

Lane Meyer is a young guy who's long time girlfriend, Beth (Amanda Wyss), breaks up with him. Lane is crushed and isn't quite sure whether he can deal with the problem (even contemplating suicide until he realizes he has not yet even visited New York). Beth has taken up with Lane's blonde macho nemesis, Roy (Aaron Dozier) (who's character is quite similar to Cusak's nemesis character in One Crazy Summer). As guys typically do in these movies to compete for a girl's heart, Lane is going to race Roy in the dangerous K-12 run (there is a joke in the measurement of the slope because 9 is actually the highest and hardest slope rating). But, Lane is in over his head and seems nowhere near ready for such a dangerous slope. But, since things have gone pretty lousy for Lane since breaking up with Beth, what's he got to lose? The tag line ''re Better Off Dead' is quite right for Lane. It seems like for a while, everything is disastorous for Lane such as always losing the race to the two Japanese brothers who mimic Howard Cossell; the date with the girl who just suggests that Lane give her the money that a date would've cost and spare them both the agony of pretending to enjoy each other's company; or when everybody in the school, including Lane's geometry teacher, keeps asking Lane if it's alright if they ask Beth for her number).

But things get better when a French exchange student, Monique, moves in next door with a fat mama's boy (Dan Schneider as Ricky) and his obnoxious mom who make her stay in America literally a living hell. So, she and Lane Meyer soon enough become friends and maybe life without Beth just isn't so bad for Lane Meyer after all.

The movie is great ("Valley Girl's" E.G. Daily plays at the school dance!), and a completely different kind of 80s teen movies, one that should be in a category by itself, because the things that go on around Lane are so weird. For example, Lane's little brother Badger (Scooter Stevens), who has no speaking lines in this movie, spends the entire film cutting off those little sweepstakes mailers from various household food boxes and mailing them in to get stuff, particularly supplies needed to build himself a rocket (really). In another example, you'll notice that the filming locations used for the slope sequences in which the entire city appears to be covered in a blanket of snow is much different from the sunny, dry climate of the locations where Lane is at school or at home or anywhere but the slope. The Nine Lives song, Paperboy, makes the reference to the running gag of the paperboy in the movie who keeps hassling Lane for his two dollars. "Where's my two dollars?" repeats the kid with a paperboy posse. It subtle and unsubtle humor.

If you like this movie, try Holland's One Crazy Summer, which came out a few years later, starring Cusak (again) and Demi Moore and Bobcat Goldwaith, among others. It is just as bizarre and funny.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

For fans of absurd humor and silly 80's teen comedies.

Author: Clara B.
16 June 2004

This is one of my favorite movies of all time. I admit I'm a huge fan of 80's comedies, and that probably affects my judgement as I write this. However, this movie wasn't the typical 80's comedy at all. I'll explain myself.

This comedy has a very particular, absurd humor. Unlike a lot of comedies that were made in the late 80's and early 90's, it's not a rip-off or a bad version of something that was made in the early 80's. However, it's not a type of humor that anyone can enjoy. But if you do enjoy it, you'll love this movie and it can easily become one of your favorite. The strange family of the main character and the main character himself played by John Cusack are extremely amusing and funny.

It's seen as a teen movie by a lot of people, but I personally don't think it is. It's an unique genre, but it's also easy to wonder if it's a parody of the typical 80's teen movies. If it is a parody, it's a lot easier to understand the typical cheesy ski film aspect of the movie and the romance with the exchange student. But if it's not, then the movie would be separated into a horrible cheesy teen movie and a hilarious comedy. This is what is so strange about it. The typical 80's love story really doesn't work in this movie because of how goofy it is.

I prefer believing it's a parody, and it probably is. Basically, I think this is a very enjoyable fun movie that no one can possibly hate. Specially if you're a fan of absurd humor and the 80's.

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9 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Funny movie!

Author: grahamsj3 from United States
20 December 2002

This one's hilarious! My family have borrowed several lines from this film and use them as inside jokes. John Cusak stars in this film about a teenager whose girlfriend dumps him for the Captain of the ski team. The film has enough skiing in it to satisfy most ski buffs, but it's not really about skiing. It's about relationships more than anything and the results are absolutely hilarious. This is destined to be a classic and it's a permanent part of my film library.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

80's with a capital E!!!!!Spoilers!!!

Author: budbundystyles
14 July 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I saw this movie today for the first time, and oh i couldnt believe how out of control 80's this movie was. Like the part where John Cusack comes out of his house and the foriegn exchange student is working on his camaro, and when they go to the interior shot theres cobwebs inside! Lets not forget the one ski race, oh yeeeeaah. I havent seen all the movies from the 80's but this one is top ten material in my book.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Better than comedies today.

Author: Tzin from West Virginia
13 July 2003

This is what a teenage film should really be like! Forget American Pie and all of those other gross-out flicks! This is a movie that actually makes you laugh without being disgusting and that's very rare these days.It's impossible to be bored for one second while watching this! This is a film that will always stay with you.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

One of the funniest movies I've seen

Author: Barry-73 from Mullica Township, New Jersey, USA
26 January 2003

This movie is absolutely hilarious. It's on my list of all-time favorite comedies, along with Johnny Dangerously, the ZAZ movies (Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker), and many of Cary Grant's movies. This movie keeps me laughing from start to finish. The gags, the things some of the characters say, the weird scenarios, and Lane Myer's over-active imagination, all add up to a great movie! Unfortunately when I taped this off tv some time ago I missed the beginning. On my tape the movie begins with Lane's father struggling to get the garage door open before the psycho paper-boy can break another window. So I don't know how the movie actually begins. No matter though. It's funny all the way through. It's got great characters, and the actors that portray them do a great job. I'd rate it at least 9 on a scale of 1-10.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Totally bodacious

Author: almdudler from Indianapolis
27 December 2002

When people ask me what my favorite movie is, they are surprised to hear "Better off Dead." The question is, why? Quite simply, it is the quality of repeat viewing. I have seen this literally dozens of times, and the laughs simply do not subside. I've come to anticipate almost every funny moment in the film, and consequently, I spend the entire time either laughing out loud or eagerly anticipating the next laugh. The pacing of the comedic elements is unrivaled; it is unrelentless, never letting down with gags, funny characters, or hilarious interplay and situations. It also qualifies for me as a Christmas film because of a significant segment of the film that revolves around the family's Christmas antics, and therefore, it has become as much a holiday standard in my home as "It's a Wonderful Life." I will concede, however, that those who didn't grow up in and appreciate the 80's culture will not be as enamored with the film as I am. For me, it's not only the best comedy of all time, it is in some ways a time capsule that captured my high school years and brings a big-time feeling of nostalgia back to my mind.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

At last, a review from the UK

Author: UberLemming from United Kingdom
6 November 2002

What can I say, other than it's sad to see no UK reviews of this great movie.

Shown several years ago (10+), on SKY, I was immediately hooked and must have watched at least a dozen times before I finally tracked down an original copy to add to my collection.

One of my all time favourite feel good, switch off and enjoy movies with great characters and ridiculous skits throughout. John Cusack is great and this performance alone forced me to watch his career very closely there on.

Up there with the greats, incl. Kilmer's Real Genius, if you haven't seen it then you're missing out BIG TIME.

Sadly not released on R2 DVD :o(

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A Sheer Delight (Minor Spoilers)

Author: tayster12-5 from SLC, Utah
4 June 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

First of all, the fact that I used the phrase "sheer delight" in the summary of this film should say something. I mean, if I used this phrase anywhere the bathroom, for instance...they'd beat me up and give me a swirly.

Anyway, on with my review of one of the funniest movies of my time.

The first time I ever saw "Better Off Dead" (referred to as "BOD" from here on out), I was 14 years old and I went to the video store and rented it and "Weird Science". I first watched "Weird Science", then "BOD", then I watched "Weird Science" another two times, because Kelly LeBrock was totally hot, and I really didn't think "BOD" was all that great.

It's now 16 years later, and I can honestly say that I have not seen "Weird Science" since then, but I've watched "BOD" so many times, I can't keep track. (FYI Kelly LeBrock is still hot.)

Sure, I admit, I'm a Cusack fan, so that definitely makes me enjoy the movie. Plus Curtis "Booger" Armstrong makes me chuckle. (Side note: Curtis Armstrong could win the Nobel Prize and he'd still be "Booger".) But "BOD" has so much little things that just make you understand why you watch movies. TO BE ENTERTAINED.

***SPOILERS*** (Is there anyone out there who hasn't seen this movie?)

From "Booger" snorting anything he could (I snorted Smarties when I was 15) to Cusack playing with a claymation hamburger to Van Halen's "Everybody Wants Some" to a very persistent newspaper boy ("I want my two dollars") this movie is just an enjoyable little movie that has since become a classic.


There's only one problem I really have with this movie. Kelly LeBrock doesn't star in it.

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