I admit it: I am a fan of cheesy 80s teen comedies. They're from a different, more simple time, and there's something...well, innocent about them. But even though I watched a countless number of these films growing up, and continue to enjoy them as an adult, I somehow missed Better Off Dead. But a friend recommended I see it and I'm so glad I did. After a somewhat crazy week, it was exactly what I needed.
The film opens when Lane's girlfriend Beth leaves him for ski jock, Roy. Lane decides that life isn't worth living. So he does what any depressed teen in that situation would do: He tries to kill himself. Many times. Of course his attempts always fail in increasingly funny ways. All the while, Lane must cope with embarrassing parents, awful first jobs, vengeful paper boys, school dance nightmares, and failed attempts to win back the girl of his dreams. He also gets unwittingly caught up in a love triangle involving a French foreign exchange student and the nerd next door. Before long it's more than just getting Beth back. It's a matter of defending his own honor. And Lane's only chance of doing either one is to beat his rival at the notorious K-12 ski race. But if he does all that, will Beth even want him back? And, more importantly, will he want her?
Despite the grim undertones of suicide (which is a VERY serious matter), this film is not a downer by any means, but, rather, an affirmation that life is actually worth living after all. Even if one has just been dumped. True to most 80s comedies, the film boasts lots of near-slapstick humor and shamelessly pays tribute to pretty much every single high school stereotype in existence.
Definitely recommended! --AJB