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Better Off Dead…

Still of John Cusack in Better Off Dead...Still of John Cusack in Better Off Dead...Still of John Cusack in Better Off Dead...


A teenager has to deal with his girlfriend dumping him among family crises, homicidal paper boys, and a rival skier.

Release Year: 1985

Rating: 7.1/10 (20,167 voted)

Savage Steve Holland

Stars: John Cusack, David Ogden Stiers, Kim Darby

Lane Meyer is a depressed teen who loses his girlfriend Beth. Her given reason for breaking up is: "Lane, I think it'd be in my best interest if I dated somebody more popular. Better looking. Drives a nicer car." Anyway, poor Lane is left alone and thinks up treacherous ways of killing himself. He finally meets a French beauty called Monique and falls for her. Simultaneously, he must endure his mother's terrible cooking which literally slides off the table and his disgusting next door neighbour Ricky (and his mum) while he prepares for the skiing race of his life – to get his old girlfriend back!


John Cusack

Lane Meyer

David Ogden Stiers

Al Meyer

Kim Darby

Jenny Meyer

Demian Slade

Johnny Gasparini

Scooter Stevens

Badger Meyer

Diane Franklin

Monique Junot

Laura Waterbury

Mrs. Smith

Dan Schneider

Ricky Smith

(as Daniel Schneider)

Yuji Okumoto

Yee Sook Ree

Brian Imada

Chen Ree

Chuck Mitchell


Amanda Wyss

Beth Truss

Curtis Armstrong

Charles De Mar

Aaron Dozier

Roy Stalin

Frank Burt Avalon

Roy's Ski Buddy #1

You've blown up your neighbor's mom. Your seven-year-old brother has better luck with women than you do. Your girlfriend has a new boyfriend. Relax, you're never…

Release Date: 11 October 1985

Filming Locations: 1633 Virginia Avenue, Glendale, California, USA

Opening Weekend: $56,371
(25 August 1985)
(13 Screens)

Gross: $10,297,601
(24 November 1985)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?


When Lane gets home from the dance, he opens his brother's door to find lovely ladies in his room, the camera angle is a classic scene from
The Graduate – the lady's legs are spread so we can see the boy in the doorway admiring her.


Errors made by characters (possibly deliberate errors by the filmmakers):
The math teacher tells Lane to show the class his solution to the "paltry geometric dilemma". A dilemma is a difficult decision – math problems can't have dilemmas, because they can't think. The correct word would be "conundrum".


Charles De Mar:
This is pure snow! Do you have any idea what the street value of this mountain is?

User Review

The ultimate teen angst flick!

Rating: 10/10

If there was ever a role that John Cusack milked until it mooed, this
one would have to have been it. His portrayal of Lane Meyer will
forever be remembered in high school lore as the Ultimate Champion of
the Underdog. I laughed so hard my sides ached and tears were running
down my cheeks. What has long been a cult classic, this film did an
excellent job of portraying the awkwardness of those teenage years that
all adults thank God every day that we now have behind us. "Savage"
Steve Holland's directorial debut was simply sensational; he could not
have picked a better vehicle in which to make his mark!

Rounding out the cast includes Amanda Wyss as the fickle girlfriend who
is more interested in her popularity than anything else; David Ogden
Stiers (Major Winchester from M*A*S*H fame) as the dad who tries too
hard to be "in", Kim Darby is priceless here as the mother who is
completely, absolutely and utterly clueless, Scooter Stevens as Lane's
little brother Badger is one ongoing surprise after another, and what
is probably going to go down as BY FAR the most coveted film role in
the 20th century, Demian Slade plays the paperboy from Hell. His
portrayal alone makes the film not only worth watching, but worth
buying! To close matters off in the casting department, the chemistry
between Cusack and Diane Franklin – who plays the French foreign
exchange student Monique Junot, is something that simply cannot be
denied. Keep in mind however, that whatever you do – that like The
Cable Guy – DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT take your eyes off that paperboy!

Cusack and Holland do a perfect job of capturing that period of time in
the 1980's better than any other film of the period. This film is well
worth an evening's entertainment. Rent it once, and then buy it, as you
will want to watch it many times over. It took me SEVEN YEARS to find a
copy in VHS. The DVD was just bought for $10.00 and change from from I highly recommend this film to one and all as a

On a scale of 1 to 10, I give this film a 12/10. ***