Better Off Dead Cast: Yes, John Cusack is well-known to everyone as his star has risen dramatically since Better off Dead. As Lane Myer, he was the kind of person you wanted to succeed, especially when his girlfriend left him and he tried to commit suicide but failed terribly.
He has since been in The Raven and the sci-fi thriller 2012, and he is active on Twitter. But what about the rest of the cast? Here is what transpired with the cast following the 1985 production of that venerable dark comedy.
He went in search of the Myer family for his “two dollars” while posing as paperboy Johnny Gasparini. Demian Slade hasn’t been seen nearly enough since then. Following a few child roles in 80s films, he made an appearance in the hit 90s series The Wonder Years, but since then, he has worked on a few short films, including Ushers and Untreated.
He did give up the Howard Cosell impersonation he used for his role in Better Off Dead, and he went on to appear in TV shows like NCIS: Los Angeles and movies like The Karate Kid Part II and Inception as Chozen Toguchi, billed as “Saito’s Attendant.” Okumoto studied martial arts and holds a brown belt in real life.
We were ecstatic when she stepped in as Monique Junet in Better Off Dead and supported Lane emotionally. She appeared in The Last American Virgin and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, among other films.
Diane Franklin: The Excellent Adventures of the Last American, French-Exchange Babe of the 80s is the title of a memoir she published about her life. She is still stunning, and she is married to Fairly Odd Parents’ famed screenwriter Ray De Laurentis.
To survive a difficult competition, every guy needs a best friend with a stylish hat, and Charles De Mar had the best words in the movie. For instance, “Come on! Christmas Eve is here! I could be drinking this monster eggnog my brother makes with lighter fluid at home right now.”
After portraying the legendary Booger in Revenge of the Nerds, Curtis went on to host the amazing game show King of the Nerds in 2015. He has been a working actor for the past ten years, appearing on programs like Moonlighting and most recently providing the voice of Snot on American Dad.
She had already been in numerous TV shows and motion pictures as mom Jenny Myer (the mother in the apron who boiled the bacon). She transitioned from acting to teaching, and the University of California Extension Program students gain from her experience. Since her most recent performance was as Barb in Cold Ones in 2007, she must be devoting her professional life to teaching.
Dan went on to co-star on Head of the Class as Dennis, the guy with the keyboard on his lap, after playing the comic character of Ricky Smith. He applied his artistic talents to the creation of successful television shows like iCarly and Zoey 101.
Better Off Dead Movie review
Lane (John Cusack) starts to question whether life is still worth living after Beth (Amanda Wyss), his longtime love, dumps him for the jockish thug Roy (Aaron Dozier). An eccentric family, a relentless paperboy, and the attractive French foreign exchange student who lives across the street are all engulfing his suicidal tendencies.
I watched Better Off Dead years ago, but all I could recall was the paperboy’s famous line, “I want my two dollars!” I chose to see it again around the holidays because it’s somewhat of a Christmas movie. Sincerely, I had forgotten what a peculiar movie this was. The awful dinners that Lane’s mother prepares gradually get worse until the concoctions come to life and slide off the dinner plates to freedom.
This is evident from the very first scene, in which we see Lane’s bedroom, which is literally plastered with nothing but images of his love Beth. Even though Better Off Dead is a jumble of peculiarities, it does contain some amusing moments. Kim Darby and David Odgen Stiers, who play Lane’s eccentric, oblivious mother and stiff, irritated father, respectively, are hilarious in their roles.
Badger, played by Scooter Stevens, is Lane’s younger brother. Although he doesn’t speak a word, Badger manages to build a rocket in his bedroom, turn a toy laser pistol into the real deal, and successfully approach “trashy women” after reading a how-to book. The reoccurring jokes keep getting sillier and sillier, like Lane’s mother’s food, but I felt like director Steve Holland was putting us inside a teenage boy’s head and imagination, so I was willing to accept the absurdity. I
n the end, Lane does run into the French student across the street, Monique (Diane Franklin). Unfortunately, Mrs. Smith and her son Ricky (Dan Schneider), who are entertaining Monique in their home, are also bringing along Monique. It’s like witnessing an abusive relationship develop in the midst of other comical moments as they get more and more possessive and controlling of Monique.
Although Lane is played by John Cusack with great humor and charm, I didn’t really sense any connection between him and Beth or even Monique. In fact, I liked watching him in situations with his loved ones, his best friend Charles or Johnny, the young paperboy on the prowl, or just receiving his two dollars. Maybe if Lane and Monique had met earlier in the film, giving them more time to connect and create something I could immerse myself in, I would have felt differently.
Although they shouldn’t be as funny as they are, Lane’s aborted suicide attempts are among the funniest scenes in the film. For instance, Lane’s best friend enthusiastically slaps him on the back after he decides not to leap over a bridge, but Lane still falls and lands in the back of a garbage truck. “Now it’s a real shame when folks are throwin’ out a perfectly fine white boy like that,” one of the two black guys working on the power lines says as he notices Lane sitting alone among the debris.
After watching Say Anything, I went to a Q&A with John Cusack last year, and a few people did inquire about Better Off Dead. Given that it is well-known how much he did not like the movie, he tried to remain as diplomatic as possible about it. I recall Cusack telling a woman that he was satisfied with the movie if it made people happy. But if you go to any screenings or Q&As with Cusack, please refrain from asking him to cite this movie.
The film Better Off Dead is peculiar. I had a hard time figuring out what this movie wanted to be, and I’m not sure it knew either. It was equal parts coming-of-age teen comedy, rom-com, and parody. But it’s all right. There is sufficient surreal humor to keep it going.
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Jessa Martin is the author of Nogmagazine, A professional in writing by day, and novelist by night, she received her bachelor of arts in film from Howard University and her master of arts in media studies from the New School. A Brooklyn native, she is a lover of naps, cookie dough, and beaches, currently residing in the borough she loves, most likely multitasking.