High Fidelity

2000, Movie, R, 107 mins


True or false: Any movie whose opening sequence features the 13th Floor Elevator's 1966 regional hit "You're Gonna Miss Me" is by definition terrific. If you answered true, you're probably primed for director Stephen Frear's adaptation of Nick Hornby's cult novel about music geeks and the women that love them. In which case, you'll be pleased to know that despite a setting change (the film takes place in Chicago, not Hornby's London), the end result is completely faithful to its source, and, for good measure, one of the sharpest and emotionally resonant romantic comedies in what seems like years. The action centers around a tragically hip record store called Championship Vinyl. Owner Rob (John Cusack, never better) is music-obsessed and a flop with chicks, the sort of guy who alternates between compiling Top Five lists of opening album tracks and Top Five lists of girlfriends who dumped him, most recently the lovely and too-good-for-him Laura (Iben Hjejle). Meanwhile, Rob's two assistants, the loutish Barry (cult fave Jack Black) and the preternaturally geeky Dick (Todd Louiso), are even more insufferable in their insularity, the sort of snobs who'll cut a customer dead if he has the temerity to (rightly or wrongly) add a "the" to a song title. That's pretty much the whole story; as you might expect, the course of true love does not run smooth, but Rob gains some wisdom and everybody lives happily ever after, although not before we encounter a hilarious succession of name actors in small but crucial roles: Tim Robbins as a sensitive New Age twit, Catherine Zeta-Jones as one of Rob's old flames, former Cosby Kid Lisa Bonet as a Sheryl Crow-ish heartbreaker and Bruce Springsteen as himself. Anyone who's ever been dumped, dumped somebody, or acted like a jerk will be able to relate to Rob's self-absorbed cluelessness, and the soundtrack is a total delight, with more obscure but nifty oldies than you've had hot meals. Be warned, though: If you didn't answer "true" to the question up top, there's a distinct possibility you'll miss about two thirds of the movie's best jokes. leave a comment --Steve Simels

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