I think even before I developed a real appreciation and affection for '80s teen comedies, I loved Say Anything.... In fact, that appreciation might have come because of Say Anything.... After all, there are few others from that time that really captured the timelessness, and moreover, the sophistication of teenage and early adult relationships, and even if some of the other films of the period chronicled them in broader or bigger ways, understanding the subtleties and nuances of a well-told story in this well-worn genre made me also understand the value of those wish-fulfillment versions.
Fox Home Entertainment released Say Anything... on Blu-ray last month, and it was at the top of my priority list if only to get a chance to watch the film for the millionth time. Unfortunately, other obligations prevented me from getting to it before now, but I know that I'm not the only person who was curious to see whether the new 20th Anniversary Edition surpasses its predecessors or satisfies only the most minimal of upgrade/ double-dip demands. In which case, the Say Anything...: 20th Anniversary Edition is the subject of this week's "Making The (Up) Grade."
What's Already Available: Fox Home Entertainment first released Say Anything... on DVD in 2002 in a set that featured a commentary track with writer-director Cameron Crowe and actors John Cusack and Ione Skye, 10 deleted scenes, 13 extended scenes, five alternate scenes, a vintage featurette, and a gallery of theatrical trailers and TV spots.
What's In The New Set: In addition to all of the special features on the first set, the 20th Anniversary Edition also includes "Say Anything... 20 Years Later," a retrospective documentary, the self-explanatory "A Conversation With Cameron Crowe," the featurette "I Love Say Anything...!," and a trivia track that plays while you watch the film.
What's The Difference In The Movie Itself: Although I liked Crowe's "Untitled" Director's Cut of Almost Famous, I always preferred the theatrical version, and thankfully he didn't add any of those deleted or extended scenes back into the film, entertaining though many of them are. In terms of presentation, the film looks really gorgeous; this is due in no small part to cinematographer Laszlo Kovacs' surprisingly vivid images, but the high-definition transfer really brings out the colors and the clarity of the images in a way that makes the film feel new and fresh.
Meanwhile, a modest but effective DTS-HD master audio soundtrack envelops the viewer and adds small, subtle details in the surround channels that give the film an immersive feeling, even when its emotional content does the job well enough by itself.
What's The Difference In Everything Else: The success of retrospective featurettes are almost always contingent on the participation of original cast and crew members, and the "20 Years Later" doc thankfully enlists Crowe, Cusack, Skye, and Crowe's wife Nancy Wilson to offer their recollections and reflections on the experience of making the film. Crowe of course offers a wealth of production details and creative choices made and re-made, but Cusack and Skye acknowledge their own burgeoning romance during filming, and talk about the depth and substance of what they wanted to accomplish with the film.
Meanwhile, the "Conversation With Cameron Crowe" delves deeper into Crowe's own creative motivations, and brilliantly, his insecurities mounting his first feature directing effort. Crowe is remarkably honest about his inexperience, but uses his confessions to shower praise on his cast and crew members, who by his account shepherded him through to the other side and helped produce a genuine, lasting cinematic classic.
Although most of the participants are serious about their affection for the film, the "I Love Say Anything..." featurette feels a little glib, like, well, a segment on VH1's "I Love the '80s," which seems to be the place from whence this particular material came. On the other hand, the trivia track offers some obvious information ("Lili Taylor played Corey Flood," etc.), but nevertheless provides an ongoing ticker of facts and fun details that will entertain viewers, especially if they're familiar enough with the movie to immediately understand the importance or impact of the various details that are commented upon.
What's The Final Grade: A-. While previous versions of the film's life on home video offered enough extras to make a straightforward, simple double-dip an almost understandable decision, Fox has done a terrific job going back and putting together a new package that includes all of that content plus some new material that gives some new perspective on the film. This is absolutely one of the catalogue Blu-rays that deserves to replace its standard-definition predecessor because it is almost guaranteed to satisfy any fan of Say Anything..., whether you think as a classic, it still only "has potential," or like some of us, the film invades your soul.