DIRECTOR: Stephen Frears
All of us know music geeks, in fact you may be one yourself. Music geeks and fanboys are the type of people that are a group to themselves. They’ve taken the artist or band so seriously that every song by the artist is like a biblical psalm that only they can interpret for others. In this film meet Rob Gordon (John Cusack), Barry (Jack Black), and Dick (Todd Louiso). These three embody music geekdom as Rob owns a record store and Barry and Dick are his staff. This film offers us the view of romantic relationships through the perspective of music geekdom.
Rob (Cusack) is the victim of a relationship breakup with Laura (Hjele) and he’s not impressed. He wants to know why the breakup happened and he wants to know now. We see Cusack give narration direct to camera about previous girlfriends in this ensemble cast. His mission to find out why his top five girlfriends didn’t work out. Cusack uses his cool to win the audience and charm when playing off against Jack Black and Tim Robbins in this light rom com. Jack Black does steal the show and he’s not only noticed here for comedy but his Marvin Gaye number. Whether you’re a fan of Black or not, it was this film that shot him into creating a solid fanbase.
What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?
The film has a soundtrack that takes you into different periods of time and works well to match the tone of the scene. When the film is about music, the soundtrack has to be important and perfect.
As we watch Rob (Cusack) and Laura (Hjele) have conversation over their relationship we can see the frustration of Rob who wants answers but Laura holds her ground. Dare I say it, the rapport between the actors are good and their characters are written with natural conversational dialogue. We can imagine people we know having the same conversations.
Cusack’s character can be seen as insecure, grumpy, broke, heart broken, and disrespected. What is holding him back is explored in discussions that take place in the last half of the film. Themes of adapting to change are explored and what it takes to get out of it.. Does one need a push from somebody to change or will a grumpy, insecure music geek remain the same for the rest of his life?
The film has aged well from when it came out back in 2000 because of its universal theme of love and relationships. What makes it unique is it’s explored with such spontaneity, comedy and music geekdom. Many will say this was one of Cusack’s best films of that decade.His star has begun to fade like a bottom shelf record, but this film will still be in Cusack’s all time top five films.
John Cusack as Rob Gordon
Jack Black as Barry
Iben Hjele as Laura
Todd Louiso as Dick
Joan Cusack as Liz
Tim Robbins as Ian