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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

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Cusack ... Lane Meyer
David Ogden Stiers ... Al Meyer
Kim Darby ... Jenny Meyer
Demian Slade ... Johnny Gasparini
Scooter Stevens Scooter Stevens ... Badger Meyer
Diane Franklin ... Monique Junet
Laura Waterbury ... Mrs. Smith
Dan Schneider ... Ricky Smith (as Daniel Schneider)
Yuji Okumoto ... Yee Sook Ree
Brian Imada Brian Imada ... Chen Ree
Chuck Mitchell ... Rocko
Amanda Wyss ... Beth Truss
Curtis Armstrong ... Charles De Mar
Aaron Dozier Aaron Dozier ... Roy Stalin
Frank Burt Avalon Frank Burt Avalon ... Roy's Ski Buddy #1
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

I have been going to this high school for seven years... I'm no dummy. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Romance

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

11 October 1985 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Better Off Dead See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$56,371, 25 August 1985, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$10,297,601

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The sound bite "Mr Myer?!" that the math teacher Mr Kerber (Vincent Schiavelli) says to Lane Myer (John Cusack) in the classroom when he chooses him as the fourth student to put their formula for figuring out the mathematic equation on the chalkboard, is used in a small part as a sound bite in the Pre-Jackass movies CKY. See more »

Goofs

After Roy and Lane's showdown on the K-12, a sign can be seen in the background revealing the ski slope to be in the state of Utah. The film is set in Northern California. See more »

Quotes

Paperboy: 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 »

Alternate Versions

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 »

Connections

Referenced in The Simpsons: Little Girl in the Big Ten (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

Shine
Written and Performed by Martin Ansell
Courtesy of Island Records
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Endlessly quotable 80s teen comedy ...
20 December 2017 | by filmbufferxSee all my reviews

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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