Say Anything and Don’t Call Me Duff

 

Please, don’t judge me. I am a mature (wink, wink) woman who absolutely loves a lot of things that by their own definition she should not. I love a lot of young adult novels, for example. One of my favorite series ever is Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare. I have read it a few times (all six books and all) and I still can’t get enough. Does it bother me that the main characters are barely out of their puberty? No, because I don’t think of them that way. For me, the characters in a good book are ageless. Once in a while it strikes me; oh yeah, she’s only sixteen or no wonder, he’s only eighteen. But those are isolated moments. For the most part I see the characters as timeless and overarching.

Young adult novels take you back to a time when you were that age. In a way, it’s a walk down memory lane, often a materialization of dreams or hopes you once had, a little bit like a parent living through her child. So, no I am not (too) embarrassed to admit to the fact that I so love the young adult literature out there right now.

Just like books, I also love many movies made with the young adult population in mind. Some, I actually watched as a young woman, but others are more recent. I would like to analyze a couple of these movies and the reasons why they are so dear to me even now.

I love romance. I not only love reading and watching romantic works, but I also write them. Even though I write across genres, the element of romance binds them all together. So it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that a lot of my favorite movies are romances. If I had to pick one to be my favorite (and that’s a tall order) I think it would be hands-down “Say Anything” with John Cusack in the main role. I watched that movie for the first time a long time ago, but I have watched it many more times ever since. Let me elaborate.

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**Spoiler Alert (mind you, if you have never seen this movie I have to ask, have you been living under a rock?)**

The story revolves around a young man whose only ambition is to be happy (and later to be happy making his girl happy–swoon). He is sweet, seemingly oblivious of his “status” as a nobody, loyal and supportive of everyone he loves, family and friends alike, and not afraid to be vulnerable. There are true poetic moments in this movie, from the speech he gives his love interest’s dad to his physical reaction of happiness when they first make love. This kid is every young woman’s dream and yet, he also represents the many truly great young men out there that go ignored by most girls because of their non-popular status. He is not a nerd, but he is not popular either; he is just a young man who somehow manages to be liked by pretty much everybody. He is easy going, non-judgmental, able to find silver-linings in most everything and see the good in everybody even through layers of “badness”. I would so have liked to meet him when I was in my later teens (or my twenties). To be loved the way he was capable of loving has to be—like kids say today—epic!

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Much more recently I watched “The Duff”, which I also loved. Yes, there were some truly over-the-top scenes that I would have cut out of the movie if I was the director (but again that may be the adult in me), but the story was sweet and it reflected the same yearning that any girl who was not exactly in with the popular crowd has felt sometime during their teens. The main character is a smart, funny young woman who does not fit the modern standard of “hot”. Bianca is short and has curves. She does not follow the fashion fads and enjoys wearing whatever she feels comfortable with. However this movie is not just about the non-popular girl getting the popular guy in the end. It is more complex than that. It’s about the preconceptions we have about each other and about ourselves.

td_09481The young man in the movie, Wesley, is a star athlete who is in an off-and-on relationship with the most popular girl in school. He is a prisoner of his own image. People assume that because he is a jock he is also stupid. He feels the pressure to do what everyone thinks he should be doing and being friends with whomever others think he should. But deep inside he is just a young man who is struggling through his parents’ imminent separation, who does not believe he can amount to much in life, and who is scared to death of messing up his only chance at success by breaking the unspoken rules of high school social life.  There is also Bianca’s own assumptions toward her two best friends. She is so certain that the two have been using her all these years as a DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) that she can’t see past the fact that they are pretty and popular. Formulaic? Probably, but a good story nevertheless with likable characters and a likable cast. And a happy ending. Never underestimate the powers of a happy ending.

So, in summary I am a sucker for this kind of movies and not ashamed of it. Who else out there enjoys this? Tell us about your favorite “teen” movie and why it is your favorite. I would love to hear from you guys. Until next time… CUT!!!!

 

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