- The Llloyd Dobler Effect – John Cusack’s Rob Gordon, the music store owner at the heart of this 2000 comedy, is an older, grumpier version of “Say Anything’s” Lloyd Dobler. Rob wears his heart on his sleeve, his puffy sweater and his slacker jeans, and he even does an impromptu solo dance like Lloyd pulled off after that long date with Diane Court. Rob may be a bit too self-absorbed to love, but no one does heartache better than Cusack.
- Jack Black is Every Rock Store Employee You Ever Hated – Black is ubiquitous these days, but at the time his frantic character was refreshing. He also channeled how record store clerks had more (undeserved) attitude than the rock stars themselves. And when Black rocks the house in the film’s waning moments it reminds us the comic actor can do more than bring that rock snob aesthetic to the screen.
- Music Matters – Is there anyone who can’t relate to using songs as the bookmarks of their emotional lives? The mix tape has gone the way of the eight track (what??), but the notion that the pivotal points in our past come with their own soundtrack is an essential component of modern living. The film effortlessly portrays that in nearly every scene.
- Who Needs Rom-Com Formulas? – “High Fidelity” doesn’t adhere to the basic romantic comedy template. Boy loses girl pretty early on here, and the arc of Rob’s relationship with Laura (Iben Hjejle) isn’t easy to predict. The movie doesn’t give Laura a standard gal pal, even though co-star Joan Cusack (John’s sis) comes the closest to that description.
- The Record Store as Water Cooler – Record stores are essentially obsolete, and digital music offers so many advantages over previous music storage systems it’s a chore to list them all. But “High Fidelity” recalls a time when the neighborhood record shop let people puff out their chests and show off their musical knowledge. Customers teased each other over dissimilar tastes and bonds developed between patrons and clerks. That isn’t possible now that we simply click a few buttons to download the latest Lady Gaga track. We lost something fragile and wonderful when the record store became passe, even if it means never getting another withering glance for a Jack Black-style type.
Note: “High Fidelity’s” Blu-ray extras include meaty chats with both Cusack and director Stephen Frears along with a group of deleted scenes well worth your time.
“We all experience music autobiographically,” Cusack tells us, adding the right song can put him in the proper frame of mind for a character or performance.
“I’ll use music as fuel … certain songs I turn on, that’s the gas,” he says in interviews conducted near the time of the film’s shoot.
The deleted scenes feature an uncredited Bevery D’Angelo of “Vacation” fame playing a vengeful wife eager to sell her hubby’s record collection for a pittance, plus Harold Ramis as Rob’s blunt-talking dad.
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