Better Off Dead: An Archie Story
August 16, 2008

While I was on vacation at the beach, I watched the thematically appropriate One Crazy Summer, starring John Cusack and written and directed by Savage Steve Holland.

Better Off Dead cover
Better Off Dead
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So now that we’re back, we watched their earlier collaboration Better Off Dead (just re-released in the “I Love the 80s” line with goofy packaging label). It’s still as cute and warm and funny as I remember (although a lot more slow-paced than today’s films, which is part of its charm), but it wasn’t until now that I realized it’s got the same plot as an Archie comic.

Cusack as Lane is Archie, of course, a schlubby nice guy who finds himself over his head when it comes to girls and sports. He winds up challenging the school’s top dog on a killer downhill ski run, just like Archie often competes in sports beyond his skill level. Both have a goofy slacker buddy with a fondness for strange hats; in the movie, he’s played by Curtis “Booger” Armstrong.

Lane is obsessively in love with Beth (who, contrary to name, is Veronica, driven by social standing) but winds up with Monique, the girl next door who fixes cars, plays sports, and encourages and loves him for who he is — Betty with a French accent.

It goes to show how universal this triangle is.

5 Responses  
Dave writes:  

Yep,universal – and here’s another example:

Surely I’m not the only one who has noticed but I’ve never heard/read any mention of it – but – Smallville, at least in the first couple of seasons, was very much an Archie format. You’ve got Clark, who is all hung up on homecoming queen Lana Lang (re-conceptualized as a hot brunette).

Then there’s the character created for the show, Chloe, who is a very sensible girl-next-door (who just happens to be blonde, but very reserved in her personal presentation, just like Betty) and has a huge crush on Clark which is painfully obvious to everyone except him. And even if he noticed, he’s too busy pining after Veron… er, Lana to care.

Barney writes:  

I remember seeing that in a theater in White Plains when I was a freshman in college.

Barney writes:  

Oh and this is pretty weird: http://www.betteroffdeadcamaro.com/

Ross Richie writes:  

“That’s a waste of a perfectly good whiteboy.”

One of my favorite moments in film, evah!


Dave writes:  

I’ve never thought of the similarities between Archie and Smallville. Thanks for bringing that up.

By the way, nice name! ;)


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