Better Off Dead... (1985) Poster

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8/10
Endlessly quotable 80s teen comedy ...
filmbufferx20 December 2017
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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7/10
Bizarre. But disarmingly so.
pleiades1018 December 2000
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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10/10
Classic 80's Movie Must See
gurks734 June 2004
This is a must have in your DVD collection. Some love it, some say OK, some don't laugh at all. I say, you must have the uncanny ability to laugh at things ordinary people wouldn't understand the humor in. I've owned this movie on VHS and now DVD and have a steady belt of laughter each countless time I watch it. This is one of those movies where you are with your friends twenty years later and go, "I WANT MY TWO DOLLARS" and the room jocularly erupts and instigates discussion. If you find yourself easily amused, can see the humor in the way life hands you a sour glass of milk to wash down lifes trials in love, then you MUST see this Classic Movie that made me a Cusack fan!
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9/10
Blurred Realities
jldmp115 February 2006
Ahhhh...an actual dark comedy. I watched this again, to clear my mind of "Wilbur..."

What makes this a cut above is the composition of sight gags -- 'How to build a space shuttle out of household items' is in the foreground, and then the eye pulls back to reveal the mother battling a sea monster in a pot, which frustrates her attempt to cook it...Cusack frets over an impossibly broken binding, and in the same frame the 'paperboy from hell' appears on a weatherized delivery bicycle...it's priceless stuff.

The story is told visually, you see...this has less to do with dialogue (although what there is of it, is classic), than with the idea of the writer's imagination conflated with movie imagination conflated with movie 'reality'. We see Holland seeing Cusack seeing the situations somewhere in between Holland's imagination and the platform of the movie (high school role playing - already a confused reality). At key points, Holland literally invents characters on paper or in stop motion animation to further warp that perception. These realities continually blur with 'real' reality, and the sheer absurdity keeps it seamless.

Some impressive camera work during the skiing portions.

This is capable film-making that can be enjoyed as what it was meant to be.
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10/10
The ultimate teen angst flick!
MrBallroom23 August 2005
If there was ever a role that John Cusack milked until it mooed, this one would have to have been it. His portrayal of Lane Meyer will forever be remembered in high school lore as the Ultimate Champion of the Underdog. I laughed so hard my sides ached and tears were running down my cheeks. What has long been a cult classic, this film did an excellent job of portraying the awkwardness of those teenage years that all adults thank God every day that we now have behind us. "Savage" Steve Holland's directorial debut was simply sensational; he could not have picked a better vehicle in which to make his mark!

Rounding out the cast includes Amanda Wyss as the fickle girlfriend who is more interested in her popularity than anything else; David Ogden Stiers (Major Winchester from M*A*S*H fame) as the dad who tries too hard to be "in", Kim Darby is priceless here as the mother who is completely, absolutely and utterly clueless, Scooter Stevens as Lane's little brother Badger is one ongoing surprise after another, and what is probably going to go down as BY FAR the most coveted film role in the 20th century, Demian Slade plays the paperboy from Hell. His portrayal alone makes the film not only worth watching, but worth buying! To close matters off in the casting department, the chemistry between Cusack and Diane Franklin – who plays the French foreign exchange student Monique Junot, is something that simply cannot be denied. Keep in mind however, that whatever you do – that like The Cable Guy – DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT take your eyes off that paperboy!

Cusack and Holland do a perfect job of capturing that period of time in the 1980's better than any other film of the period. This film is well worth an evening's entertainment. Rent it once, and then buy it, as you will want to watch it many times over. It took me SEVEN YEARS to find a copy in VHS. The DVD was just bought for $10.00 and change from from Wal-Mart.com. I highly recommend this film to one and all as a MUST-OWN!

On a scale of 1 to 10, I give this film a 12/10. ***
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10/10
Truly, a sight to behold!
baumer26 July 1999
Better Off Dead is the zaniest movie that I think I have ever seen. Let's just recap what this movie has in it. We have a guy that attempts suicide but he can't even succeed at that. There is his best friend that declares that a mountain they are on in the dead of winter is pure snow, saying " Do you know what the street value of this is?" We have a father that is trying to speak the lingo of his kids and fails miserably and a mom that cooks food that literally slides off it's plate. We have a math class full of genius' that get upset when they don't have homework to do. Lane has a younger brother who orders books on how to pick up trashy women and learns how to build rockets. We have the entire male population ( and Barney Rubble ) that wants to go out with Lane's ex-girlfriend now that they are broken up. There is two Oriental guys that want to constantly race Lane and then broadcast it over the loud speaker on their car. There is Porky from the Porky's movies basically playing the same role here, dancing hamburgers, a basketball team that grunts and of course the most relentless paper boy in the history of paper delivery.

Whoooooooo! I'm out of breath. So why do I mention all of these things about the movie? Because all of these little issues combine to somehow make one of the funniest and zaniest movies you will ever see. Better Off Dead is so full of energy that there is enough material in here for ten movies. But Savage Steve Holland makes it work. Don't ask me how, but he does. I think I'm going to stop here because if you haven't seen this movie you have to see it now. This is a completely original film and it also one that no one will ever have the guts to make again. This is one hell of a film.
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8/10
Reminds me of how awkward and stupid it was to be a teenager in the 80s
zkotpen27 August 2018
The whole cast & crew nailed it perfectly.

Brilliant!
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8/10
Unconventional teen movie with surreal elements
aquascape29 March 2018
I've seen "Better Off Dead..." in late 2017. I have a tendency to avoid teen comedies or coming-of-age films once I passed into adulthood. To my defense, most teen films done lately are atrocities, to say the least, with dumb down characters, playing on stereotypes and modern social issues in the wrong way. Not ten minutes in and I instantly regretted not seeing this movie earlier. It has such a wacky take on teenage days in the 80's, with a hint of surreal and supernatural.

"Better Off Dead..." is about a high school student, played by boy-wonder John Cusack, who gets dumped by his girlfriend, leaving him with suicidal inclinations while trying to win her back by extreme measures. The characters are simply excellent, just mildly stereotyping the teen genre, with a memorable newspaper boy and his eternal yell "I want my two dollars!"

Savage Steve Holland's debut film would assure him as a cult director, but sadly once the 90's emerged, he would fall into an abyss of mediocraty.

"Better Off Dead..." is a unique teen movie that captures the vibe of the 80's and is an essential watch in a period where the "brat-pack" ruled.
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7/10
Language Lessons
claudio_carvalho4 September 2016
The teenager Lane Meyer (John Cusack) has a crush on his girlfriend Beth Truss (Amanda Wyss). When Beth dumps him to stay with the successful skier Roy Stalin (Aaron Dozier), 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 (Laura Waterbury) receives the exchange French student Monique Junot (Diane Franklin) and her fat son Ricky Smith (Daniel Schneider) 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?

"Better off Dead" is a cute romantic comedy even thirty-one years later. The story is funny and there are hilarious situations. Further this film has not aged and entertains. Maybe the greatest difference is that in the viewer that enjoyed this cult-movie in 1985 now is able to understand much more Lane's father attitudes. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Minha Vida é um Desastre" ("My Life Is a Disaster")
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Suicide Is A Question You Don't Wanna Answer
Chrysanthepop15 August 2008
Savage Steve Holland's sensational 'Better Off Dead...' is another one of my favourite teen films. I had seen this movie decades ago but didn't catch the name. I've been looking for the nameless film for years and only recently I found out the title and got it immediately.

Ah, the nostalgic 80s when kids knew how to be young rather than spend their days on the cellphone or behind the computer. The film delightfully spoofs those teen angst movies that were so popular at the time. Lane's ex-girlfriend giving him an excuse that she dumped him for someone better looking and more popular, Lanes failed suicide attempts, Lanes cartoons are among some of the most amusing sequences.

Holland gives the film a unique treatment. 'Better Off Dead...' has an innovative quality that makes it one of a kind. It includes the adorable claymated romantic Hamburgers, cartoons, a stalking paperboy, a ski competition on one leg, a little brother who's a silent genius and an international language. Holland put a lot of heart in the writing and some of the lines had me rolling on the floor laughing.

The acting is splendid. The character Lane seems tailor-made for John Cusack. I've always thought of Cusack as an underrated actor and 'Better Off Dead...' is one of the few movies that does justice to his talents (even though this is perhaps one of his first roles). A vivacious Diane Franklin is supercute and she has the loveliest smile. The chemistry between her and Cusack is undeniable and both have excellent comic timing. David Ogden Stiers and Kim Darby are hilarious as the nutty parents. Curtis Armstrong provides some morbidly funny moments.

To say it in one sentence, 'Better Off Dead...' is one of the rarest examples of teen movies at its best. It already is a classic and while many of us watch it for nostalgic reasons, others may like it simply for the heart and humour.
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9/10
Everybody Wants Some....
Figgiedan10 March 1999
I recently held a movie survey for an upcoming 12-hour "silly film" party at my house. This movie, surprisingly, was the top title to be voted on out of about 40 movies. Then I thought about it a bit - I loved this flick, and over 14 years, videos have been rented and others saw it and love it as well. What other flick can have a homicidal paper boy, a japanese guy who speaks only as howard cosell, a car that has darkened our driveway for six months, the k-12, and charles demar? The love story inside of it is good as well. "Reminds me of the moonshine Ricky's dead pappy used to make - God Bless him!" 9 of 10.
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9/10
A teenager with a death wish.
lost-in-limbo22 September 2008
Eighties teen films, I love 'em. I never tire of this brand of entertainment that's a true product of it pop-culture times. There's something about this wonderful era. Everything about the humour had a natural build up, and even during the hits or misses it stayed consistently amusing without resorting to gross-outs. 'Better off Dead' fits that buck. Here's another cherished coming of age story through the eyes of a troubled teenager dealing with a dumped relationship and the embarrassments that seem to follow through the painful years of high school and everyday life. Wallowing in self-pity, eventually it comes to identifying self-confidence over what isn't the impossible. What am I going to type that someone hasn't already. Nothing. The plot is secondary to the oddball episodic set-pieces and comic characters, where the flow is unpredictable and original like out of some daydreaming teenager's imagination. John Cusack (a pin-up boy for these roles) has that likable, down-to-earth awe which fits. Surrounding him is a fantastically hearty support cast in David Ogden Stiers, Kim Darby, Diane Franklin, Demian Slade, Amanda Wyss, Curtis Armstrong, Dan Schneider and Laura Waterbury. Director Savage Steve Holland throws caution to the wind with his animatedly interesting style, but manages to make sure everything still comes together without really trying. Well it looks so. Visual gags also have a powerful note like the night-time chase sequence involving a persistent paperboy after his 2 dollars and the drag racing scenes with a pair of Asians. Even the ski scenes are well shot. An upbeat soundtrack pounds out the catchy, nostalgic tunes and cements an provocatively charming sincereness. It's hard to pass up this self-knowing, off-kilter teenage comedy/romance winner.
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8/10
Half 80s teen comedy, half insane
cherold6 January 2016
Savage Steve Holland, who went on to create the insanely wonderful Saturday morning cartoon series Eek! the Cat, combined two 80s genres - John Hughes romantic comedies and gag-a-second movies like Airplane! to create one of the more unusual teen comedies of the 80s.

The movie stars John Cusack as a jilted teen pining for his ex while oblivious to the absurdly perfect girl across the street, the two girls falling into the classic 80s stereotypes of the cold blonde and the magical, quirky brunette.

Cusack is more emotionally unstable than a Hughes protagonist, spending much of the movie in inept attempts to kill himself.

He also has to deal with living in an insane world. His mom makes weird gloppy dishes that crawl away on their own power, a newspaper boy seems to be the beta version of the Terminator, Cusack's best friend snorts all his food. The movie is frequently hilarious, resulting in a minor classic.
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10/10
I've watched this film about 7 times and I'm no dummy!
Sylviastel17 July 2002
Better Off Dead is a spoof takeoff of the John Hughes' eighties films about teen angst. John Cusack plays wonderfully as Lane Myer who had an obsessive relationship with his ex girlfriend, Beth, who breaks up the relationship for somebody better. Miserable, he tries to kill himself several times without failure. As his friend played brilliantly by Curtis Armstrong tells him "Suicide is not the answer" and lines like "I've been going to high school for 7 years, I'm no dummy." While Lane depresses over his adolescence existence in a small northern California town, the laughs just keep getting better. His mother is obsessed with cooking. The father sets him up with a date when he worries his son is going insane. On top of all that, Lane is being hunted down by an unpaid paper boy who will stop at nothing to get his $2.00 and surprisingly, he finds love under his nose. I have to say this movie will leave you wanting more and more.
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10/10
You just don't get it.
imzadi0011 October 2016
Number 1 sign of clueless viewers is when they compare this to other 80s comedy movies.

Fast times at ridgemont high? Really? Come on that's pure laziness. This movie has NOTHING to do with THAT movie and you were obviously NOT watching this while watching it.

What's going on here is pure unadulterated, beautiful weirdness.

And of course, love and romance.

But, back to the weirdness for a second.

There's nothing that's normal in this movie, well almost nothing (back to that in a minute).

This is like the twilight zone of comedy.

Every single character in this movie is a wonderful weirdo in some way or another.

And in the midst of all this, the single most normalizing element is romance and love!

So lane gets rejected by a total bitch who can't think for herself and then meets this beautiful french exchange student who speaks the international language of love haha.

That's all the info you're getting for now.

If I had to watch this or another quirky comedy like Napoleon dynamite it's this 10 out of 10 times!

As a matter of fact I wouldn't doubt it if that other title I just mentioned was inspired by this, but this is the original! Make no mistake. And it's much more quirky funny and most importantly NOT boring.

Anyway, don't pretend you're watching ANY other movie when watching this and you'll be good to go!
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7/10
Funny movie!
grahamsj320 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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10/10
80s classic
jgood7382 August 2018
Love this movie along with One Crazy Summer. The critics didn't have a clue. These are the feel good 80s movies.
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Brilliantly Surreal
ada1crs31 January 2005
Better off Dead is definitely one of John Cusack's better 80's teen movies and far superior to the dull 'Say Anything'. The surreal situations and characters (the dreadful cook mother, the homicidal paper boy, Lane's best friend) are wonderful and recall the best work of the Coen brothers, while Cusack's hangdog performance is excellent, standing alongside 'the grifters' and grosse pointe blank as one of the best of his career. It stands as one of the most interesting and original teen movies to ever grace the genre and it is a great shame that writer/director Savage Steve Holland never hit these highs again, spending the remiander of his career languishing in TV hell.

I cannot praise this film enough.

**** out of five
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9/10
For fans of absurd humor and silly 80's teen comedies.
Idolprincess16 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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9/10
A hilarious and memorable movie, best enjoyed without expectations
thelastjedi_good13 July 2017
I read the plot summary for Better Off Dead... and immediately assumed that it would be a darker, heavier high school movie than most. I could not have possibly been more wrong.

Better Off Dead... fits in a genre that I think would be considered absurdist/surreal comedy. It compares well against films like Airplane! (1980), Monty Pyton & The Holy Grail (1975), Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), and others. If you're willing to buy into the wackiness, you'll be rewarded with a charming movie that you will quote with friends forever.

Lane Meyer (John Cusack) is a high school kid obsessed with his popular and beautiful girlfriend, Beth. When Beth dumps Lane for the most outrageous jock stereotype in the world, Lane decides that his life is no longer worth living, and devises ways to kill himself. The remainder of the movie is more or less a barrage of bizarre episodes of nonsense as Lane fights to win Beth back.

Any semblance of a real story and real character development takes a back seat to the movie's absurd humor. Some characters are simply self-aware exaggerations of tropes from other movies (see the laughably hammy jocks).

The cast is great in portraying the off-the-wall. Cusack is, as always, mostly normal with lovable quirks while the others in the film excel in their over-the-top portrayals of their mostly one-note characters.

Comedy is subjective, but in the eyes of this viewer everything in Better Off Dead... works. The film's greatest triumph is its ability to make the viewer ask himself "what the hell is happening?" dozens of times. If absurdist comedy is your thing, this will be a hell of a good time for you.
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9/10
Lookin Good Meyer...Lookin Real Good...
lalonnie28 March 2006
I must give this movie a 9.9, but that wasn't an option on the scroll-down. The score would have been a 10, but I was forced to deduct one percentage point for the Van Halen burgers. This movie is a classic in my book and a favorite for all time. I had just recently watched this movie again, with a friend from back-in-the-day, and I couldn't stop laughing from the opening seen on. (Typically, this would have been annoying if she hadn't been laughing just as hard.) The characters in this movie are perfect! I love the little things, like Ricky jumping after his balloon floating away after the dance; and the obvious things that are hilarious, like a math class where students are actually, well, awake. Great, great flick. If you haven't seen this, go and get it now...leave now...go.
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9/10
One of the funniest movies I've seen
Barry-7326 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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10/10
Better Off Watching again and again
diskomboabulated2 April 2004
Sitting in my flat one night restless and unable to sleep, I decided to watch Better off Dead, a film I had not seen since my carefree days as a Youth in the glorious 80's. Well I'm glad I did! Better Off Dead Is without doubt one of the funniest films ever made, from the moment Lane's Mother accidentally. nearly hangs him while she is hovering, I was hooked. This film manages to capture everything that was good and bad about your Teenage years in the 80's in a very. very funny way. Bizarre as they are I can Relate to all of Lane's situations and problems from the Cotton Buds scene to the trouble your first love brings. There are so many scenes and quotes from this film that had me laughing and I still laugh at them after numerous viewings 'It gets Better the more you watch it' All the characters in the film are Hilarious from Lane's family his wacky neighbours Ricky and his Mom. I don't want to spoil the film for anyone by saying anymore except just watch it and enjoy... And then watch again and you too will be hooked... Here is some of my favourite quotes 'Come on my little Buckaroo', "Gee, I'm sorry your mom blew up Ricky ... guess she'll have to lay off the Spicy foods for a while", 'Buck up little camper, we'll beat that slope Together', "Right Off", " Do you have any idea what the street value Is of this mountain", "Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through Life, son, 'Everybody will be wearing one', "A got it for my Christmas' .. Ps ... I never slept all night due to laughing and watching twice.
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2/10
Have You All Gone Mad?
BloodTheTelepathicDog7 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 Amazon.com.

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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9/10
One of Cusack's best movies!
wildcatian26 July 2021
A fantastic comedy full of bizarre and funny moments. Truly a must watch for any Cusack fan or 80's comedy fan. The soundtrack is amazing and the writing is hilarious. I recommend that everybody see this movie at least once.
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