High Fidelity (2000)

Jams really are the best way to get over a chick.

When record store owner Rob Gordon (John Cusack) gets dumped by his girlfriend, Laura (Iben Hjejle), because he hasn’t changed since they met, he revisits his top five breakups of all time in an attempt to figure out what went wrong. As Rob seeks out his former lovers to find out why they left, he keeps up his efforts to win Laura back.

The film is based on a British novel by Nick Hornby, and it just so happens to be one of my favorite novels of all-time because it made me look differently at a lot of things. This film didn’t do the same, but that’s OK.

The problem with a lot of romantic comedies is that their sappy, predictable, unfunny, and overall not very original on anything they talk about or do. For the most part, High Fidelity doesn’t have these features as much as you would expect. Basically the premise here is “the one that got away” storyline but the script here is what makes this all a little different from other romantic comedies.

The novel is one of my favorites, and mainly because of the witty and smart pop-culture, and music references that it had, references that this movie either keeps or adds. I loved just listening to these dudes talk like real people about their “top 5 lists” and if “I Just Called To Say I Love You” is a good song for your daughter. The script has many witty lines that will either leave you shaking your head as to what these people are talking about, or either laughing your ass off. I was sort of somewhere in the middle.

I liked how this film had that sort of laid-back feel to it, but for me, the novel was so much better and in ways made more sense. There is this running narrative in the novel that the film uses, however it just seems oddly placed here and doesn’t bring much reality to the film. Also, there were many times where I think they could have done so much more insight to this film, like the novel did, but I guess sometimes novels are better than the films after all.

John Cusack is the one actor that is basically the definitive poster-boy for 80’s romantic comedies, so it was cool to see him play the role as Rob Gordon, a guy who needs to get over his ex-girl as quick as possible. He delivers the lines well, and makes you believe that he really does know all of this crazy music information. Jack Black is a guy that nowadays gets a lot of crap, but this is the film that put him on the map and with good reason. Every time the guy is on screen, he is an absolute riot and I can tell why he’s a household name now because of it. Iben Hjejle is alright as Laura, although other times I do feel that she could have been better at playing the bitchier parts of her. Also, gotta give some love to Tim Robbins here as Ian, Laura’s new boyfriend, and he is just the man in this, as Robbins always is in anything he does. There are also some other funny ones here such as Lisa Bonet, Todd Louiso, and the always awesome Joan Cusack.

Let’s also not forget the soundtrack. I loved how the film relied on a lot of actual licensed music for their mood and scenes, because it felt like it was all happening in real life, and each of us have our own soundtrack. When you have artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, The Velvet Underground, and hell even The Roots, you know this is going to be a keeper.

Consensus: With a rockin’ soundtrack and some very good acting, High Fidelity is fun, breezy romantic comedy, but doesn’t do much to liven up the book, and has less of an effect when it comes to actual insight on relationships than the book did.



  1. I’m trying to remeber a line out this loved… can’t remember, there were so many good ones though. This film seemed to be never out of the DVD player in the house I lived in with some buddys of mine during Uni, I guess we could relate to it or something πŸ™‚ I remember the name of that skateboarder kids band though: The Kinky Wizards, awesome band name. I actually hi-jacked the name for Pub quiz team name during Uni as well, that movie has a lot to answer for. Also, best version of a Peter Frampton song, ever! πŸ™‚

  2. This sounds like a good movie with a great soundtrack. I’d love to watch it now that I read your review. Your writing is relaxed and easy to read; I’ll keep reading. πŸ™‚

  3. Thought this was one of those romantic comedies that somehow felt less like one because the main character talks directly to the audience. The music references are great and I love the scene in the record store where Cusack’s character thinks about what to do with the new boyfriend. That was hilarious. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, but it’s one of the few romantic comedies that I don’t mind watching again.

  4. Well, I haven’t read the book this film is based on, but I did like the film. It was, as you said, fun, breezy, light & quite enjoyable. By the way, I’m now really interested to read the book πŸ™‚

    Great review!

  5. This is definitely one of my all-time favorite films of the last decade. I’m a music lover and it appealed to me because I have a lot of way out there tastes and I could relate to Rob’s growing pains.

    My favorite scene is Rob’s thoughts of what to do about Ian when Ian arrived at the music store.

    Plus, “I Just Called to Say I Love You” is a terrible fucking song. I love Stevie Wonder but that song sucks!

  6. I think your off on the matter of “less of an effect when it comes to actual insight on relationships” ~ I thought it had great insight, and had fun with each of its relationships. “High Fidelity” is one of my favorite pictures, it could be because I’m from Chicago, but its witty, loving, and near note perfect in every singular way.

    Still, great review.

  7. Love this film. Discovered it almost by accident but it’s so well written, really cracks me up. Perfectly cast with Black and Cusack. Love the direct to camera stuff too.

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