Wednesday, December 03, 2003

High Fidelity
Review by Sombrero Grande

In High Fidelity, John Cusack plays Rob Gordon, the owner of his own independent record store and a man so obsessed with music that he breaks down everything in his life into “all-time top five” lists. In honor of that amusing character quirk, I’m breaking down my review of the movie into an “all-time top five” list of my favorite things about High Fidelity:

Coming in at number 5: This is one of those movies that the trailer really didn’t do justice to. Some movies, like Men In Black and Nine Months, shoot their wad in the trailer, revealing every clever joke, twist, gag, line, you name it, so that by the time you’ve been duped into ponying up almost ten bucks to see the whole damn thing, you feel ripped off. I recall originally seeing the trailer for High Fidelity several years ago and thinking, “that looks like just another pop-music-driven romantic comedy that’s not very funny.” Recently, though, I thankfully stumbled upon this film and was amazed by how the trailer managed to capture none of the charm or humor in it. It was a real treat discovering how different and enjoyable High Fidelity really is.

In the number 4 slot: Great lines. Seriously, this movie has some really smart, funny writing in it. One of my favorite lines is, “No woman in the history of the world is having better sex than you are having with Ian...in my head.”

Number 3: Jack Black is a hoot. In movies like Orange County, Jack doesn’t have Jack to work with. He seems to always get cruddy characters to play in cruddy movies, and in Orange County the little bits of spice he adds in his performance are the only redeeming quality the film possesses. In High Fidelity, however, Jack’s actually given a character that not only allows his natural comedy abilities to shine but also isn’t just a hollow stereotype.

Lucky number 2: John Cusack’s wonderful portrayal of a total ass who you still care about. It’s true; Rob Gordon is a total asshole. He cheats on his girlfriends during their most vulnerable times. When his latest love dumps him he can’t get over the fact that she MIGHT be sleeping with someone else, while at the same time he’s having casual sex with a pretty singer he just met. What makes him likable is that he KNOWS he’s an ass and he’s not afraid of telling you what an ass he is. The film lets Rob tell you, the viewer, about his flaws and mistakes moments before other characters do, and this ushers in a wonderful sense of intimacy between the audience and the character that allow us to feel for him while, at the same time, we want to kick him for being such an ass. We’ve all had friends like that, and this film with Cusack’s wonderful performance captures that camaraderie feeling.

And finally, closing out the list of my “all-time top five” favorite things about High Fidelity, at number 1: It’s funny. It’s really funny. The scenes in which Rob fantasizes about “getting back” at Ian in particular had me almost laughing myself off the couch.

I can’t think of a recent romantic comedy that’s delighted me as much as this one did. Sombrero Grande suggests you give this hit a spin.


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