Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Lloyd vs. Jake

Happy Valentine's Day from The WaPo, which examines the residual impact of Lloyd Dobler on the culture.

Lloyd was, of course, John Cusack's kick-boxing character in Say Anything, Cameron Crowe's 1989 feel-good hit of the summer. According to the article, Lloyd lives on and on in the romantic dreams of many, many American women -- in a way that the doltish Jake Ryan can only hope to match.
"Jake Ryan is dessert, and Lloyd Dobler is like the vegetables you need," says Sasha Johnson, 29, a Washington TV producer. "Lloyd Dobler ruined men forever. I can't take total credit for this, an ex-boyfriend said this to me once. He contended that Lloyd Dobler's boombox moment became the pinnacle of romance -- the standard that no man could ever meet no matter how hard he tried. I've always loved Lloyd Dobler and have grown to appreciate him more as the years have gone on . . . the guy in high school that no woman wanted but ultimately now the kind of man we want to marry.

"He had that right mix of self-assuredness, sensitivity and geekiness. He was willing to make an insanely bold gesture to get the woman of his dreams back -- something every woman wishes could happen to her."

For Cusack, the role has apparently been a blessing and a curse.

Cusack, who turns 40 in June, was only 22 when he played the part (and, arguably, played it over and over -- the sensitive, mix-tape-making, imperfectly perfect boyfriend). He didn't want to do it, in that way 22-year-old actors are terrified of doing more high school roles. More terrifyingly, in Hollywood trivia myths, it has been said that Kirk Cameron, the teen idol star of TV's "Growing Pains," was up for the part. Crowe had to beg Cusack, who agreed only if he could fuse his own sensibility onto Lloyd. Unlike celebrities who are embarrassed or dismissive of their early work, Cusack is apparently almost always gracious when reporters who are writing about his latest movie ask about Lloyd. And they always ask.
In the end, you'd have to hope that the article is right in saying that "for every one woman with a residual Jake Ryan thing there are maybe 100 with a persistent Lloyd Dobler fetish." Hopefully, though, they'd do better than to offer him a pen as a substitute for returning his undying affection.


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