Say Anything… – New York Times

Untroubled Teen-Agers

Teen-agers are also a subject dear to the heart of Cameron Crowe, who made a splash as the writer of “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” in 1982 and is back among adolescents as the writer and director of the current 20th Century-Fox release “Say Anything.”

The movie stars John Cusack and Ione Skye as the newly minted high school graduates – he a young man of no acknowledged ambition except to excel at kick boxing; she, the daughter of a doting single parent (John Mahoney) with high ambitions for her. By contrast with the young man portrayed by Mr. Cusack, she is the class valedictorian and winner of a prestigious fellowship that is to take her to England. And the whole movie, Mr. Crowe said, started with a telephone call a couple of years ago from the producer, director and writer James L. Brooks.

Mr. Brooks and Mr. Crowe, who had written for Rolling Stone, met when the former was doing research for “Broadcast News.” “We kind of hit it off, and told each other we’d stay in touch,” Mr. Crowe said. And they did. “We started talking about the idea of a father-daughter relationship and why no one has really written it,” he said. “And all of a sudden, I found myself in this environment, sitting in his office, where writing wa just the most important thing.”

During the next couple of years, while he was involved in other projects, Mr. Crowe and Mr. Brooks would talk a couple of times a week. Mr. Crowe told Mr. Brooks about a “golden girl” he’d met in Seattle, about a kick boxer who lived down the street (“a slightly more exciting version of myself,” Mr. Crowe said), about the latest teen-age slang (“scam” for date) he had overheard in the local market.

“I really appreciated that Jim was always the world’s greatest audience for any little detail,” Mr. Crowe said. Eventually, Mr. Brooks, who became the executive producer of “Say Anything,” prompted Mr. Crowe to set his characters down on paper as a short story, then to transform it into a script; eventually Mr. Brooks urged Mr. Crowe to direct the film.

“His company, Gracie Films, is really about championing the writer,” Mr. Crowe said.

The 31-year-old Mr. Crowe said the teen-agers of “Ridgemont High” and those of “Say Anything” are of two different generations. “‘Fast Times’ is really about what happens when you try to be an adult at a younger age,” he said. Now, “It’s a little less turbulent,” Mr. Crowe observed. “I guess I went and found a hero who was happy being his age and was happy for the smaller victory of knowing what he doesn’t know. I found there was a lot more compassion between kids and a little more of including parents in their world. ‘Ridgemont’ was a lot about the secret world of kids that their parents never knew.”

Courtesy of NY Times – Lawrence Van Gelder – May 5, 1989