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Overall Rating
4.26

Awesome55%
Worth A Look: 27%
Average: 8.5%
Pretty Bad: 8.5%
Total Crap: 1%

15 reviews, 110 user ratings


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High Fidelity
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by Scott Weinberg

"A movie for any guys who've been unceremoniously DUMPED!"
4 stars

Dealing with a romantic breakup is easily one of the most painful experiences in the world. The fact that it happens over and over in life makes it one of humanity's cruelest jokes. Fortunately, the human soul is quite resilient, and High Fidelity shows that the heartaches that made us cry every day for a month can eventually make us laugh.

Rob Gordon, the character John Cusack plays here could easily be Lloyd Dobler (of Say Anything...) ten years later. He's still quite earnest, polite and likable, even if his views on romance are perhaps a little too hopeful. Sure, Lloyd got the girl at the end of Say Anything, but if you think those two are still together after over ten years, perhaps you are missing the theme High Fidelity offers. Breakups happen; they happen often. While a guy may be at the peak of happiness, the whole thing could be yesterday's news by early next week. Dating is a landmine, and those who survive it grow scars and callouses that can only be expressed through painful (and usually bitter) introspection.

After his most recent breakup, Rob begins to reassess his romantic life. He starts to re-categorize his album collection. (Not alphabetically or chronologically, but autobiographically! This way he can tell who he bought the record for, where he was at that stage in his life, and which specific heartbreak each song references. It would be sad if it weren't so funny.) Rob even has his breakups listed, in top-5 fashion, most painful at the top.

In an effort to cleanse himself of his 'romantic loser' status, he goes about contacting his earlier lovers to see exactly what it was that doomed these relationships. He also spends a lot of time at his record store, debating obscure pop songs with his two music-snob employees. (These scenes seem more like filler between the romantic subplots, but there are numerous funny exchanges in the record store.)

Although High Fidelity utilizes the "main character talking at the audience" trick (early and often), it actually helps the movie. We feel like we're watching Rob's Romantic Confessional, and since many of his memories are familiar to most of us, it works. (Add to that the fact that it's John Cusack doing the talking, which is a large help. He's as reliably human and desperately funny as he usually is.)

Many familiar dating clichés are examined here: The proper way to make a mix tape for a girl, how a freshly dumped guy is absolutely certain that his former lover is definitiely now having the best sex of her life (only with someone new), and the truly pathetic acts a man will withstand for just one more chance. It's an honest movie also, as Rob explains to us how perhaps he ruined things on his own, thanks to some unthinking and downright selfish acts. It's not a move you'll see from a likable protagonist too often, but here the honest approach works.

The script covers the "old girlfriend" ground quite capably, and there are quite a few standout laugh scenes also. (I was particularly impressed by the Ian-dream sequence.) Plenty of familiar actors show up, mainly as ex-girlfriends, and most of them add something solid to the movie. Catherine Zeta-Jones is wonderfully cast as Rob's 'perfect' ex, although he (of course) becomes a little disillusioned when he meets up with her again. Tim Robbins is smugly amusing as Ian, the competition to Rob reconciling with his most recent love. Joan Cusack, Jack Black, Lisa Bonet and Lili Taylor also acquit themselves well in small but realistically interesting roles. It's Cusack's show all the way though, and he holds the movie together just fine. (Even with all that talking at the screen he does.)

You've heard the phrase "It's funny because it's true"? That's what makes High Fidelity succeed. I've been in Rob's shoes, as has every guy I've ever known. Having these dirty secrets revealed is certainly cathartic for Rob, but maybe for me also. The fact that these uncomfortable and painful relation stories are experienced universally makes me feel a little more normal, a little more like Lloyd Dobler.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=1354&reviewer=128
originally posted: 04/03/00 05:27:31
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User Comments

7/22/14 guwdnei USA 5 stars
7/14/14 ryjzlfohq USA 3 stars
5/17/07 ES meh 2 stars
8/24/06 Joe One of my faves. Cusack's at the top of his game. Black and Luiso steal scene after scene. 5 stars
6/24/06 Orange Genius! 5 stars
12/12/05 Bad Critic The greatest movie about recoreds ever! (Ghost World's one too) They also had a Saab in it! 5 stars
10/13/05 millersxing It clearly helps that Cusack is such a blank slate that so many can identify w/ him. 4 stars
8/18/05 John Aster Habig Cusak can't live up to Todd Louiso's and Black's characters in interest 4 stars
8/17/05 ES A movie not worth making= funny stuff spoiled by trailer, nothing left for the film 2 stars
8/12/05 Kelly top five john cusack movie- 1.High Fidelity 2.Grosse Point Blank.... 5 stars
12/07/04 Jason Kaul One of my favs from John Cusack. Jack Black is great too. Then again, I'm a DJ, so I relate 4 stars
8/27/04 Mike Stanbridge Second best cuzack film ever 5 stars
8/22/04 Abbath Great characters and narrative. Something most anyone can relate to. 5 stars
7/27/04 DM Unstructured but mostly fucking hilarious 4 stars
7/08/04 Denise Duspiva Rob is a low life who needs to get a life 3 stars
5/13/04  Shaun Rose Great movie with a nice cast of actors, Check it out if you haven't seen it 4 stars
5/11/04 Denise Duspiva Need a more solid story 3 stars
5/09/04 Charlene Javier Bored, bored, bored! 2 stars
1/07/04 Charles Tatum Nicely acted and written, but runs ten minutes too long 4 stars
1/05/04 y2mckay Cusack, keep making movies like this and "Gross Point Blank". No more chick flicks! 5 stars
10/12/03 laura paterson Probably my favourite film of all time! 5 stars
9/21/03 spacecowboy for such a simple message, it didn't have to be that long 3 stars
4/07/03 Jack Sommersby Been down this road before, people -- even without the LPs! 2 stars
1/21/03 R.W. Welch Nice work by Cusack but unless you're a pop music geek much of the dialogue is obscure. 3 stars
12/22/02 Pigwidgeon Excellent movie with two flaws -- "Laura" and too much showy smoking. 5 stars
10/27/02 MarktheShark6 The diversity of characters was what made this movie great. I don't know about the end. 4 stars
10/03/02 Jason Cusack Shoots, HE SCORES, AGAIN!!!!!!! 5 stars
8/26/02 WestcoastPunk Non-stop Laughs. Funniest movie out there. 5 stars
8/14/02 MI I found it depressing- I think i may have laughed once. 2 stars
7/29/02 karen goldstein Anybody who has ever been dumped will enjoy this movie! Very entertaining. 4 stars
7/01/02 visionsof People who call this movie stupid need to learn to appreciate movies without a loud of cgi. 5 stars
5/26/02 Nicole If you like fairly dry humor, you will enjoy this movie 4 stars
4/28/02 radroc This movie is genuine, the real thing. A flick the acadamy awards could never appreciate 5 stars
4/04/02 cat John Cusack always plays the adorable loser to a T, Jack Black is hilarious, even Dick too 5 stars
4/03/02 Butterbean If you like butt plugs, you'll love this movie. Otherwise, see Chasing Amy 4 a better flick 2 stars
2/27/02 Jess I quite liked the film, it's real, but the book means so much more. 4 stars
2/20/02 Xaver I just didn't find the movie very entertaining. Black made me chuckle. 2 stars
11/29/01 KMG People claim this movie is brilliant...THOSE PEOPLE ARE STUPID! 3 stars
9/03/01 svetlana the most human movie i've seen in a long long time 5 stars
8/29/01 Sarah John Cusack is animous with starring in movies that have no meaning & bored me to death 1 stars
7/06/01 Elvisfan Almost ruined by Black's immature jackoff routine, w/o him it would have been better 3 stars
5/21/01 hum see what can be done when a liitle effort is put into a comedy? 4 stars
5/04/01 joe This is Jack Black's movie. Cusack is annoying. Enough already! 4 stars
4/29/01 The Jedi Droid in my top 5 ....John Cusack is great! Jack Black cracked me up 5 stars
3/04/01 Zippo XxX One of the best movies i've seen!! should be studied!!! 5 stars
2/24/01 Marie Pretty boring whiny confused male movie. Generally entertaining. 3 stars
2/17/01 Jake a timeless gem. 5 stars
2/15/01 Charlie Betts Great Pop Classic... One For the Ages! 5 stars
2/06/01 Phil M. Afficianado <10% are "see againers"; this is. Gender Psych 401--grad school. CATscan of male love life. 5 stars
2/04/01 Del R Boorriinnngg! 2 stars
1/15/01 Gariess Best romantic comedy from an original novel. A tad on the glib side. 4 stars
11/27/00 Michael Maher intelligent approach to relationships, great use of pop music context and very funny 5 stars
10/17/00 Leon Trotsky Fantastic, BUT the end wasn't as carefully assembled as the rest 4 stars
10/05/00 Add Straight into my all time top 5 with a bullet, p.s. SONIC DEATH MONKEY RULE!!!!!! 5 stars
10/02/00 toneely Sorry Guys .but this movie bored me to death!!!! 2 stars
9/22/00 Monday Morning Easily among the Top 5 films I've seen this year. 4 stars
9/20/00 Michael Grimm rains a lot in Chicago, really hit home in my relationships, Cusack's character was creepy 4 stars
9/13/00 lina oh my my... brilliant film...john cusack rocks.. didnt want the film to end...totally rad . 5 stars
9/05/00 The Extreaminizer I love the book and the movie 5 stars
9/01/00 Pierce Lanson Terrific film, but he smoked too much 5 stars
8/21/00 Belinda Jack Black, where have you been hiding? 4 stars
8/18/00 matthew smith hilarious and painful 5 stars
7/31/00 Matthew Bartley A bit too long but very funny in parts 4 stars
7/31/00 Jason Kallelis Saw it a 2nd time, liked it even more, AWESOME MOVIE!! 5 stars
7/04/00 Matt Catherine Zeta-Jones in a GOOD movie??? 5 stars
6/13/00 chouck Another killer John Cusack film 5 stars
6/08/00 Jaime N. Christley Best Cusack film in years; funny, insightful, and highly enjoyable 5 stars
6/07/00 Patrick Dennis John Cusack is the man!!!!!!!! Plus, the diologue in the store is great... 5 stars
6/05/00 Blubberbot I enjoyed it for the most part but I didn't think the story was all that great. 4 stars
5/21/00 Jess This is an 80's film in the 00's. I loved it. Beautiful film, very funny at times. 5 stars
5/13/00 davebo an insightful, funny, original movie 5 stars
5/13/00 Dr. Rev. Krule, MD that is so me in 10 years 5 stars
5/12/00 Paige OK movie, nothing to write home about. 3 stars
5/10/00 Travis funny lines, good characters 4 stars
5/09/00 That Guy For everyone who ever made a tape for someone to express themselves... 5 stars
5/05/00 Alan Stuart Smart screenplay and good performances 4 stars
5/05/00 David Blumgart Funny, charming, affecting movie. 5 stars
5/03/00 Joe Smith Great characters 5 stars
5/03/00 Peter Smith Very funny, verry entertaining 5 stars
5/02/00 mop Great movie. Always been in love with Cusack. And they pretty much nailed music snobs... 5 stars
4/29/00 Heather Very funny original movie, interesting characters, well worth looking up 4 stars
4/26/00 astrotart Indiecool film where John Cusack is actually attractive..and Jack Black is a fucking RIOT!! 5 stars
4/26/00 PhilmPhreak Great Flick! 5 stars
4/21/00 Malbert Very interesting film...I liked it a lot 5 stars
4/19/00 Starry Knight Damn Damn Good 4 stars
4/15/00 PJ Great movie, Jack Black is funny as hell, and it was rather original, funny 4 stars
4/14/00 Mr. X enjoyable and insightful. if you haven't read the book, that is. 4 stars
4/14/00 Alyssa Another Cusack triumph. Makes you ponder if guys who *are* assholes are really pensive. 5 stars
4/11/00 Drano Actually went deeper than I expected. And stayed humorous 4 stars
4/10/00 Bueller Amazingly clever, and comic dialog. No one is better than John Cusak, at this kind of film. 5 stars
4/09/00 EMagGaRony john cusak is awesome, as always.... 5 stars
4/09/00 vroom The '80s came rushing back...where's my crimper 4 stars
4/08/00 burdenit Fucking Shit! 1 stars
4/08/00 Chartsy God, I love seeing a movie that kicks serious ass! 5 stars
4/07/00 Nolan Wrage Good insight on how men realy think. 5 stars
4/07/00 Katsat Original, quirky, funny, charming--just my kind of movie 5 stars
4/07/00 burton t. e. miller slow and predictable - supporting cast 'carried' the movie 2 stars
4/07/00 nootch The movie was pretty good, but without Cusack I don't think it could've survived. 4 stars
4/06/00 Freyja Forget chick flicks, this is THE date movie! 5 stars
4/06/00 kohawk true to life, spontaneous comedy. Extremely well written. Certainly better than average 5 stars
4/05/00 Captain Highcrime Not THAT funny. 3 stars
4/04/00 ChuckEye Tim Robbins gone horribly wrong 4 stars
4/03/00 Negative Again, Cusack delivers ! 5 stars
4/03/00 Gamma Great movie. See it for no other reason than a great John Cusack role. 5 stars
4/02/00 "Persnickety" well done john, he let the true world of dating come out to the surface, Bravo! 5 stars
4/02/00 mike b not too bad..could've used some trimming-jack black is the man! 4 stars
4/02/00 mason great book , slow directionless film full of very ugly people 2 stars
4/01/00 tjwills John Cusack is a god! This movie is just more proof! 5 stars
4/01/00 The Rock Movie was great! Jack Black rules 5 stars
3/31/00 Andi C. It was funny!! 3 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  31-Mar-2000

UK
  N/A

Australia
  17-Aug-2000 (M)




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