Top 5 Favorite Clips From High Fidelity
1) The movie begins with a fourth wall-breaking monologue from Rob Gordon (John Cusack) that speaks to an essential issue at the heart of rock music-worship, posing questions that could, come to think of it, be addressed to lovers of romantic comedy as well. He (and co-screenwriters D.V. DeVicentus, Steve Pink and Scott Rosenberg) is channeling Nick Hornby, author of the source material novel, and you know within the first minute that they - guided by director Stephen Frears - are going to do this right:
2) For romantic comedy, the first decade of the 2000s was Revenge of the Guys, with such pics as Hitch, Wedding Crashers, and Apatow's 40 Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up trying to kick the chick out of chick flicks. But High Fidelity was the real kick-off, in 2000, where the male point of view on relationships gets an intimate, honest expression - as does the peculiarly male obsession with what makes up the ultimate know-it-all's record collection: the "I am what I listen to" syndrome (and what does it mean that I bought the Beta Band EPs after seeing this movie?).
3) A penchant for wish-fulfillment fantasy is certainly not the sole provence of the male imagination, but rarely has a movie gotten its inner workings quite this hilariously right, as Rob faces his romantic rival (the uber-obnoxious Tim Robbins, brilliantly cast) in person for the first time, and male id unleashed high jinks ensue:
4) True to its school even at its most poignant moments, High Fidelity features one of the greatest marriage proposal scenes in the history of the genre, its genius lying in precisely how stupid-guy perfect its seeming anti-romanticism is:
5) It's the movie that made Jack Black a star, and arguably still contains his best work. This last clip loses a bit in translation, since it's predicated on having convinced you that Black's character (a lovable jerk with hipster-ad absurdum musical taste) is the last person in the world to deliver the performance he delivers here; we're expecting something closer to the Dead Kennedys, which will end in bloody eardrums and party buzzkill - and yet...
High Fidelity seems to me to be a high watermark in rom-commery due to its unflinching against-the-grain-ness. Never has a romantic comedy emphasized such resistance to the very ethos of its genre - its hero is dragged, kicking and screaming into what he perceives as the horror of commitment - and yet in part for that very reason, when the movie finally submits to the transformative power of love as a positive force, we believe that it's only right and inevitable. Women are the means by which we men come to know beauty, after all. And where would pop music - or movies - be without them?