High Fidelity

This movie is about 9 clone John Cusacks.
"A comedy about fear of commitment, hating your job, falling in love and other pop favorites."

Hello everyone! Well I felt bad about leaving this movie off my top 5 John Cusack list, and apparently some people were put off by that too, so today I'm going to be talking about what is probably my #6 John Cusack movie, High Fidelity. High Fidelity Was based on a British novel of the same name, by Nick Hornby with some minor changes (it takes place in Chicago and not London, some names are changed) about Rob Gordon (Cusack), a music geek and compulsive list maker, who decides to list and subsequently look up his exs to figure out what he's doing wrong, after his current relationship with girlfriend Laura (Iben Hjejle, who is Danish evidently). Rob in the meantime runs his record store, with the help of his two heckling moron friends Barry (Jack Black) and Dick (Todd Luiso). Sounds like a pretty basic premise, so what puts this movie above others of its sort?

As I've often said before, Jack Black has been in everything.

First and most importantly, High Fidelity is a movie about a guy trying to figure out where he's going wrong in his life. Cusack as always is a relatable sort of screw up, even when he's playing someone with a stuck up attitude about music (though admittedly he's less so than his two stooges Dick and Barry). He owns his own record shop, and his dilemma is in many ways an idealized version of one that a lot of people try to cope with (While I might often try and figure out where I went wrong, I don't own my own record store, or any other kind of store for that matter). The likability of the main character and the common nature of the story plays to its advantage. It also spoke directly to me. While I might not be much of a music nut, I certainly have other subjects that I would say I obsess over to a near Rob Gordon level ( I bet you can't guess what one of them is!).

My room has looked this way before. Minus John Cusack in it.
Aside from liking the premise and liking the protagonist, High Fidelity is all about the execution. A movie about music snobs has to make sure it's convincing, and the writing team (which was headed up by Cusack himself) spent a lot of time listening to songs to construct the movies soundtrack (somewhere in the ballpark of 2000). The soundtrack really helps to sell the movie, along with the Chicago setting, which Cusack knew a lot about, lending a certain air of authenticity to the movie. The movie also has Cusack's signature humor and features a character who likes to talk to the audience. Anyone who is a big enough fan of Mr. Cusack will probably appreciate a movie where he talks directly to them about his imaginary Rob Gordon life.

No one appreciates my genius. That's why I became a hitman.
It's not surprising that this movie ran well with critics, and ended up grossing in theaters in a less than spectacular fashion. As a slickly styled movie focused on its music and setting, with a smartly written script, High Fidelity was the perfect film to pitch to the critic community. Almost universally the movie received positive reviews, that talked about the charming nature of the movie, and the very understandable dilemma of its protagonist. Even the author of the original book expressed his pleasure at the final product that Cusack and his team created, saying that "at times it appears to be a film in which John Cusack reads my book." Despite that, the movie experienced a pretty tepid reception at the box office, ending its first weekend at 5th behind Erin Brockovich, The Road to El Dorado, The Skulls and Romeo Must Die (ugh). It finished its run with a worldwide gross of 47 million dollars, against an approximate budget of 30 million (looking at a lot of Cusack's movies you see a pattern of narrow profit in the box office). The movie managed to garner a strong cult following after its DVD release like so many others.

Fuck you Jables!
High Fidelity was knocked out of my top 5 through no particular fault of its own. In the end I had five spaces to work with and I just couldn't dispense with any of the other movies. More than it was important for Cusack's career (it wasn't really, Grosse Pointe Blank was what really brought his career back from the dead) High Fidelity was an important turning point for Jack Black, marking a film where he was a supporting character, but not just some guy hanging around in the background (For more about that long illustrious history, check out this post). That was a pretty big deal for him (He had admittedly been doing the Tenacious D show for a few years on HBO but still think big screen). Bottom line, High Fidelity might not have been my favorite John Cusack movie, but it is certainly one of my favorite Cusack movies, and it marks a rare instance of a romantic comedy that didn't totally suck.

That's it for today! On Thursday I solemnly promise to talk about a movie that does NOT involve John Cusack. Also as an aside, you might have noticed a button in my sidebar for a blog called I Think I Might be an Otaku. I will be an occasional contributing author to it, so if that's something you're also interested in, maybe give it a look!

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