The Great Scenes: “Gas ‘N Sip Wisdom” from SAY ANYTHING

The Movie: Say Anything

Spoiler Level: Moderate

The Setup: Following the cool reception that greeted 2005’s Elizabethtown, Cameron Crowe migrated away from and off of most people’s cinematic radars.  The only upcoming project currently listed on his IMDB profile is an “Untitled Pearl Jam Documentary” slated for release in 2011.

In the meantime, I’ve actually started to jones a little for some classic Crowe action. Although I admit I’ve never seen Elizabethtown all the way through and do not endorse Vanilla Sky, I have no problem being considered as a Cameron Crowe-fan, in general.

After all, he did give us Fast Times at Ridgemont High (which he wrote), Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous, and the underrated Gen-X comedy Singles, which seems to get unfairly overshadowed by Ben Stiller’s similar-in-theme Reality Bites.

If and when Crowe does return behind the camera, I hope he can tap into and embrace the spirit of his maiden directorial effort: 1989’s Say Anything. John Cusack stars as Lloyd Dobler: a confused, wannabe-kickboxer (it’s the sport of the future) who finds himself in an unexpected and complicated relationship with the school’s valedictorian Diane Cort (Ione Skye).

At this point in the movie, Diane has broken up with Lloyd and he seeks advice from a band of ne’er do wells who pass their time brown-bagging it in the parking lot of the local gas station.

Why It’s Great: For me, this scene demonstrates Crowe’s powerful ability – as a writer – to tap into the psyche of the modern-day, American male and honestly convert that into cinematic language. If ever there existed one of those ‘this is what my buddies and I sound like’ moments in movies, this is definitely one of them.

With this scene, you’ve also got to give credit to Crowe the filmmaker. He decides to shoot it with one long tracking shot that moves from right to left, stopping at each philosopher (one of whom is played by Jeremy Piven) to listen to their respective nuggets of romantic wisdom.

When we get to the end of the line, Crowe proves that – not only is he a great writer and director – he is also a pure comedian. As if the four bits of dialogue we heard before reaching the scene’s conclusion weren’t funny and ‘insightful’ enough, Crowe tops all of them with one fell swoop that must to be seen to be believed.