Better Off Dead (1985)

“Truly a sight to behold. A man beaten. The once great champ, now, a study in moppishness. No longer the victory hungry stallion we’ve raced so many times before, but a pathetic, washed up, aged ex-champion.” A bizarre teen comedy directed by Savage Steve Holland (One Crazy Summer), Better Off Dead features “Lane Myer” (John Cusack), who tries to commit suicide in a variety of (humorous) ways after his girlfriend, “Beth” (Amanda Wyss) dumps him. However, he soon finds salvation with a French exchange student, “Monique” (Diane Franklin, who also appeared in the teen comedy, The Last American Virgin, in 1982). Meanwhile, the newspaper boy keeps harassing him: “I want my 2 dollars!” And Lane has to cope with two Japanese drag racing brothers, “Yee Sook Ree” and “Chen Ree” (Yuji Okumoto and Brian Imada), one of whom impersonates Howard Cosell (actually dubbed by Rich Little), as well as his genius brother, “Badger” (Scooter Stevens). David Ogden Stiers and Kim Darby portray Lane’s eccentric parents. As usual, Curtis Armstrong steals the show as Lane’s buddy, “Charles de Mar,” firing off lines like “He snorts nasal spray? You know where I can score some?” The action culminates with a ski race on the legendary “K-12″ slope. Cusack reportedly hated the film and confronted Holland during a screening, remarking to the director that it was “the worst thing” he had ever seen.

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