Teenage geniuses deal with their abilities while developing a high-powered laser for a university project. When their professor intends to turn their work into a military weapon, they decide to ruin his plans.
Martin Blank is a professional assassin. He is sent on a mission to a small Detroit suburb, Grosse Pointe, and, by coincidence, his ten-year high school reunion party is taking place there at the same time.
Freddy the gym teacher has to teach remedial English in summer (high) school, if he wants tenure. As he can only teach gym and his students want fun, emphasis is on "field trips" - until he's fired unless all his students pass the test.
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
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 Monique is working on Lane's car, we see various parts lying on the ground in the opening shot. She shows Lane she has gotten his car running, despite the fact one of the parts is the distributor, which is necessary for the car to start or run. See more »
I have great fear of tools. I once made a birdhouse in woodshop and the fair housing committee condemned it. I can't.
"I cannot do it" is your middle name.
See more »
When Lane and Monique are at Dodgers Stadium sitting on his Camaro, the camera pulls away to a long shot. The paperboy (I want my two dollars!) can be seen riding across the baseball field towards them. See more »
The network version (which most commonly airs on Comedy Central) had several scenes removed, including the jello snorting scene, Lane's brother with the "How to Pick Up Trashy Women" (along with the women themselves), and the Q-Tip scene in the bathroom. See more »
BETTER OFF DEAD is an impressively energetic debut feature for writer/director Savage Steve Holland. First time director Holland is conspicuously the new kid on the block as he saturates his film with so many ideas, a clear giveaway that he is yet to trust himself enough to release the reigns enough to let his movies breath. The results are spectacularly manic but it really works. Amidst the zany comedy and plentiful sight gags (the cereal boxes with all the giveaways cut out, for example), Holland throws in some amusing cel animation, a stop-motion fantasy sequence, and a cameo from Barney Rubble. Yet despite all the mania, the film's comedy has a level of discipline and restraint that ensures all the jokes land and humorous plot points established early on are satisfyingly resolved.
One of my favourite characters in the film is super-enthusiastic maths teacher Mr Kerber, played by late-great character actor Vincent Schiavelli. Telling maths formula jokes to his spellbound class, Schiavelli spins comedy gold using that discomfortingly warm tone that made him such a sought-after talent. His is one of several casting choices that are pitch perfect: John Cusak as the self-involved teen who wants to end it all when his vapid girlfriend (Amanda Wyss) dumps him for someone more popular; Laura Waterbury as the odious loud-mouthed neighbour and gas guzzling mother of shy bullish nerd Ricky Smith (perfectly played by Dan Schneider); Kim Derby as the timid clueless stay-at-home mom who makes slime-ridden meals that seem somehow sentient and slide off the plate by themselves (her "Frawnch" dinner party host is unforgettable); Curtis Armstrong ostensibly reprising his role from REVENGE OF THE NERDS gets the lion's share of one-liners and he delivers them with so much aplomb; Chuck Mitchell reprising his PORKY'S role is perfect as bad-tempered burger baron Rocko; Diane Franklin as the hapless frustrated French exchange student who is both a fairy godmother and the surprise love interest; monster child Scooter Stevens who wields newspapers as weapons and to whom two dollars means the world; and the super talented David Ogden Stiers as the priggish father attempting to bridge the generation gap with his checked-out son.
BETTER OFF DEAD is not for everyone and the film is most likely best enjoyed by those who lived through the 80s and understand its cultural peccadilloes, but if you have watched your fair share of 80s comedies like SCREWBALLS, 16 CANDLES, BACHELOR PARTY, PORKY'S, NATIONAL LAMPOON'S VACATION, REAL GENIUS, ZAPPED, or POLICE ACADEMY, you might wanna give BETTER OF DEAD a chance. Who knows, after seeing how everybody wants some, you may just want some too!
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