UCR: Movies and Culture

If asked about the film Say Anything, hardcore fans may remember Lloyd Dobler’s kickboxing, while others would undoubtedly quote a line like, “I gave her my heart and she gave me a pen.”

Still, for the vast majority, the film comes down to one indelible image: Dobler, played by John Cusack, holding a boombox high above his head while playing “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel.

When creating the scene, writer and director Cameron Crowe engaged in an internal dialogue. “What if the song is what he uses to try and wrench his way back into her life,” the filmmaker pondered to himself. “And it’s the song that kind of taps on her shoulder a little bit. He’s out there with the boombox.”

Crowe always believed the scene had the potential to be special, provided it was done the proper way. “We always knew it was important and that’s why we kept after it to get it right,” the director confessed to Entertainment Weekly. “One click to the right or left and you’d never see it in the movie; it would be cut and it would just be gone and that would be that. It would never be … we wouldn’t be talking about it because it would be so bad, or unnecessary, or wrong or weird or something.”

Thankfully, they got it right and the iconic scene -- which almost wasn’t made -- has gone on to become part of cinematic history. In the years since Say Anything’s 1989 release, many people have copied the film’s signature romantic gesture. Parodies have appeared in television shows, other movies and even the occasional viral video.

We combed through the internet to find some of the best examples.

'Deadpool 2' (2018)

In the first Deadpool movie, Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) swears that he will find his love, Vanessa, in another life and “boombox ‘Careless Whisper’ outside [her] window.” While that exact moment didn’t come to fruition, the superhero did get his chance to mimic the iconic Say Anything scene in Deadpool 2. In an effort to convince fellow superhero Colossus to join him on his mission, Deadpool stands outside the Russian mutant’s home, holds his cellphone high -- with boombox-styled case -- and plays “In Your Eyes.”

 

'The Simpsons' (2000)

Simpsons fans know Otto as the laid-back slacker who drives the Springfield Elementary school bus. Throughout the show’s many seasons, he’s been portrayed as a burnout, drinker, drug user and former rocker. Despite all this, there was one point when the bus driver appeared to be headed for holy matrimony. In a season 11 episode titled “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marge,” Otto proposes to his girlfriend Becky. He pops the question by pulling up to her workplace, holding a boombox above his head and playing Poison’s “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.” Becky says yes, but the engagement is short-lived. The two break up after Becky reveals she doesn’t like metal music.

 

'A Night at the Roxbury' (1998)

This Saturday Night Live sketch turned feature film was not one of Will Ferrell’s finest vehicles (though it may have been the high point for Chris Kattan). In any case, the plot followed two brothers, Steve and Doug Butabi, as they head-bobbed their way through Los Angeles nightclubs. At one point, Steve (Ferrell) seems poised to marry a woman named Emily, played by fellow SNL alumnus Molly Shannon. The nuptials are interrupted by Doug (Kattan), who blares Haddaway’s hit song “What Is Love” while holding a boombox over his head.

 

'Easy A' (2010)

At one point in the film Easy A, Emma Stone’s character, Olive Penderghast, laments the lack of romance in her life. “Whatever happened to chivalry?” the teenager openly questions. “Does it only exist in '80s movies? I want John Cusack holding a boombox outside my window.” This piece of dialogue foreshadows a scene later in the movie, when, after revealing to the world that she is not the promiscuous girl she claimed to be, Olive is surprised by her crush, Todd. Naturally, he appears outside her bedroom window, playing music from speakers held above his head. Clearly, Todd decided to mix several ‘80s references together -- not only is Say Anything parodied, but Can’t Buy Me Love and The Breakfast Club also receive subtle tributes.

 

'The Flash' (2015)

Cisco Ramon, aka Vibe, is a member of Team Flash. His powers include a metahuman ability to detect anomalies within reality. This allows him to see things, bursts of images and information that come to him in “vibes” (thus the pseudonym). In a Season Two episode titled “Gorilla Warfare,” Ramon goes on a date with Kendra Saunders. Things are going well until a vision startles Ramon, who quickly finds an excuse to leave. Embarrassed that he ended their date so abruptly, Ramon later surprises Saunders and apologizes for his actions. This scene mimics Say Anything, as “In Your Eyes” plays over the moment. However, instead of a boombox, Ramon holds a gift basket above his head in an effort to earn forgiveness.

 

WWE (2017)

Give credit to the writers at the WWE -- they know how to have fun. In this 2017 skit, wrestler the Miz is copying the Say Anything moment as a romantic gesture to his real-life wife, and fellow wrestler, Maryse. At first, The Miz plays his own entrance song, the hard-rocking “I Came to Play.” When that doesn’t get a reaction from his wife, he changes the tune to her entrance song, the French dance track “Pourquoi.” The video was released in 2017 as part of a Valentine’s Day greeting.

 

'The Goldbergs' (2013)

Set in the '80s, ABC's sitcom The Goldbergs often makes references to pop culture phenomenon of the era. It’s no surprise then that the Say Anything boombox moment appeared early in the series. In the Season One episode “The Ring,” young Adam Goldberg falls for his neighbor Dana. Inspired by Lloyd Dobler, Adam stands outside his crush’s window, boombox hoisted high, with “In Your Eyes” on full blast.

 

Portland Sea Dogs Minor League Baseball Team (2017)

Minor league baseball teams are known for their innovative marketing. For Valentine's Day 2017, the Portland Sea Dogs decided to offer the delivery services of their mascot Slugger. In an effort to build awareness, the Double-A team created a viral video to publicize the promotion. In it, Slugger is seen doing his best Say Anything impression, holding a boombox high while “In Your Eyes” plays. The gesture seems lost on the staff member the plush mascot is trying to impress.

 

'Orange is the New Black' (2016)

In Season Four of Orange is the New Black, the romance between inmates Soso, played by Kimiko Glenn, and Poussey, played by Samira Wiley, was in full bloom. When celebrity-chef-turned-inmate Judy King arrives at Litchfield, Poussey hopes to become her friend. However, nerves get the better of her and she has trouble talking to the high-profile prisoner. Seeing her girlfriend struggle, Soso tries to help by talking to Judy and fabricating a lie about Poussey’s upbringing. When Poussey finds out what Soso did, she become furious. In an attempt to apologize, Soso creates her own Say Anything moment, holding a boombox in the prison hallway while confessing her feelings to Poussey. Rather than playing “In Your Eyes,” the homage features the song “Bitch Please II” by Eminem.

 

'Family Guy' (2007)

Family Guy is known for its quick gags, and this Say Anything moment was no exception. After Stewie Griffin murders his mother Lois, he attempts to get rid of the evidence. Neighbors find a gun and crude drawing in the trash and assume it’s Stewie’s father, Peter, who was the killer. As the toddler celebrates getting away with his crime, he notices Herbert, the local elderly pervert, standing in the front yard. The old man holds a gramophone above his head and attempts to court Stewie’s brother, Chris, by playing the old-timey 1932 Irving Berlin song “Let’s Have Another Cup of Coffee.”

 

'Family Guy' (2015)

Yes, the Family Guy crew has parodied the famous Say Anything scene more than once. In this case, teenager Chris has befriended the local nerd Neil, only to watch Neil use their friendship as a way to get closer to Chris' sister Meg. Ashamed of his actions, Neil tries to apologize to Chris. He grabs a boombox and stands outside the Griffin household, but, considering the antiquated technology of boomboxes, he's unable to play the music of his choice. Instead, talk radio plays as Neil asks for forgiveness.

 

'Everybody Hates Chris' (2008)

Airing for four seasons, Everybody Hates Chris was a family sitcom based on the real life of its creator and narrator, comedian Chris Rock. Throughout much of the series, a neighborhood kid named James pursues Chris’ sister Tonya. In the episode “Everybody Hates Homecoming,” James decides to try the Say Anything method, standing outside her window playing music from a boombox. Rather than sticking with Peter Gabriel, the teen uses George Michael’s “Careless Whisper.” The strategy doesn’t work, but it does lead to a heart-to-heart with Tonya’s father, played by Terry Crews.

 

'Glee' (2013)

In many ways, it’s surprising that it took four seasons for Glee to copy this iconic musical moment. In the 2013 episode “Girls (and Boys) on Film,” the glee club’s director, Will Schuester, is still reeling after getting dumped at the altar by the love of his life, Emma Pillsbury. Rather than give up, the teacher decides to win back his would-be wife and enlists the help of his high school students to do so. The group head to Pillsbury’s home, where Schuester serenades his former fiancee with “In Your Eyes,” as the glee club provides backing vocals. When they hit the song’s chorus, a student hands Schuester a boombox, driving home the Say Anything homage.

 

'Loiter Squad' (2014)

Loiter Squad was the sketch comedy show featuring Tyler, the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt and various members of the hip-hop group Odd Future. It aired for three seasons on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim block of programming and featured short skits that often made fun of various parts of society and pop culture. In this scene, a young man attempts to use the Say Anything boombox technique to romance his love interest, only to find out he’s too late. The woman has already found another lover.

 

'Saturday Night Live' / The Lonely Island (2009)

A boombox can change the world, but you’ve gotta know your limits with a boombox.” Those lyrics are sung by the StrokesJulian Casablancas on the appropriately titled song “Boombox.” The track was created by musical-comedy group the Lonely Island, featuring SNL cast member Andy Samberg. The song was originally released as part of the group’s 2009 debut album, Incredibad. It received the SNL digital-short treatment in 2010, when a music video for the song appeared on the late-night show. While the lyrics don’t reveal a connection to Say Anything, the visuals do. Samberg, wearing a trench coat similar to Lloyd Dobler’s, is routinely seen holding a boombox high above his head in a Say Anything pose.

 

'Date Movie' (2006)

Following in the footsteps of other early '00s parody films like Scary Movie and Not Another Teen Movie, 2006’s Date Movie looked to skewer the world of romantic comedies. The movie, starring Alyson Hannigan, was universally panned, but still earned more than $84 million at the box office. Say Anything was one of the many films to be parodied in Date Movie, with the famous boombox scene getting re-imagined with the Player song “Baby Come Back.”

 

'Spaced' (2001)

This acclaimed British sitcom, starring Simon Pegg and directed by Edgar Wright, followed the misadventures of two London based twentysomethings who pose as a couple in order to get a cheap apartment. In the series finale, a group of friends steals a tank, pulls up outside their landlady’s window and pleads with her not to sell the building. As part of the display, Pegg jumps on top of the vehicle, hoists a boombox above his head and plays Take That’s “Back for Good.”

 

'Aliens in America' (2007)

This short-lived comedy aired on the CW from 2007-08. Its central plot focused on a high-school boy named Justin who befriends a Muslim Pakistani foreign-exchange student named Raj. A subplot in the show’s second episode featured Justin’s sister Claire. Her on-again, off-again boyfriend Jeffrey shows up outside the family house in an attempt to woo her back. Donning a Cusack-like trench coat, the teenager plays “In Your Eyes” from his boombox. Though clearly a Say Anything ripoff, the character claims the idea is all his own.

 

'Ed' (2004)

This hour-long comedy-drama aired on NBC from 2000-04. It centered on Ed Stevens, a lawyer and bowling-alley owner who returns to his small hometown. Justin Long played one of the supporting characters, Warren, an awkward high-school student Ed develops a mentor-like relationship with. In a Season Three episode of the show, Warren tries to win the heart of his crush Stella by reenacting the Say Anything boombox scene, this time with a personalized version of Steve Perry’s “Oh Sherrie.”