Better Off Dead

Year: 1985

Synopsis: High school student Lane Myer becomes suicidal after simultaneously failing to make the skit team and being dumped by his girlfriend.

• The surrealist implementation helped to make up for the familiar teen plot.
• The whole cast played their quirky roles with surprising ease.
• The reality breakdown, as seen through the fantasy and flashback sequences, were the true visual highlight of the film.
• The fact that the film was inspired by the director’s own experiences gave a degree of authenticity.
• The plot can truly be uplifting for anyone at emotional rock bottom.

• The plot was fairly predictable.
• Save perhaps for the obsessive paperboy, the film lacked any truly iconic characters.


Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this film was how it worked to shoe the strengths of the mundane. They lived in a small town, no one cared enough to be a true bully, the paperboy comes by every day, the mailman could not care less. Nothing really happens there except for skiing and basketball. With the internet yet to be born as we know it, the imaginations of them all were probably all that kept them from loosing their minds from the mediocrity. So when Lane (John Cusack) lost what he felt was the best part of his reality, he tended to fall into his own wild imagination. He was as crazy as anyone there, but was lucky enough to find a new totem of reality before he lived up to the film’s title.

Archived site discussing the film

Rotten Tomatoes — 91%


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