Better Off Dead (1985) - Rotten Tomatoes

Better Off Dead (1985)




Critic Consensus: Better Off Dead is an anarchic mix of black humor and surreal comedy, anchored by John Cusack's winsome, charming performance.

Better Off Dead Photos

Movie Info

After being rejected by the object of his affection and suffering a series of other humiliations, a depressed teenager decides life is no longer worth living. He can't even commit suicide right, however, and soon finds his life getting even more complicated in this determined wacky teen comedy.


John Cusack
as Lane Meyer
Kim Darby
as Jenny Meyer
Curtis Armstrong
as Charles De Mar
Scooter Stevens
as Badger Meyer
Dan Schneider
as Ricky Smith
Laura Waterbury
as Mrs. Smith
Aaron Dozier
as Roy Stalin
David Vaughan
as 3rd Jock
Yuji Okumoto
as Yee Sook Ree
Tina Littlewood
as Chris Cummins
Steven Williams
as Tree Trimmer
J. Warren David
as Ski Buddy
Joey Tushnet
as Paperboy
Yano Anaya
as Paperboy
Rima Delane
as Joanne Greenwald
Stuart K. Robinson
as Tree Trimmer's Helper
Brian Imada
as Chen Ree
Thomas Rollerson
as Roller Skater
View All

News & Interviews for Better Off Dead

Critic Reviews for Better Off Dead

All Critics (26) | Top Critics (3)

There's a potentially edgy aspect to Better Off Dead's comedy that's never fully realized.

October 2, 2018 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

Mired in this is Cusack ("The Sure Thing"), an unusually adept verbal comedian not so adept (to his credit) at this kind of slapstick.

January 4, 2018 | Full Review…

The film doesn't seem to have much of a focus. But it doesn't seem to want one, either.

May 20, 2003 | Rating: 3/5

Savage Steve Holland, along with Cusack and the rest of his cast, accomplish something unique with Better off Dead. At the surface, the film exhibits the same regressive political traits as many of its contemporary peers.

September 22, 2019 | Full Review…

I just think it's really funny.

May 13, 2019 | Rating: A- | Full Review…

Full of...goofy ironies, and while it ain't Molière, it is a pretty great entry in the teen-comedy genre. [Blu-ray]

August 2, 2011 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Better Off Dead


Apparently a cult classic (a fact I was unaware about ... I nearly trashed the thing in the opening 5 minutes for spewing flagrant stupidity at me ("This is terrible."), it took a moment to warm me to the leads, to the flavor of the piece, but once acclimated I discovered that there was charm available here. Cusack et al keep it at a quick pace, it's already a piece of cotton candy, and it gets to be like play-fighting a goofy younger brother in the back seat of yer parents' car.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

Things only started picking up when John Cusack stared hanging out with the pseudo-French girl. She was really adorable.

Jennifer Xu
Jennifer Xu

Super Reviewer

Hilarious John Cusack movie :) I love it :) He was so adorable in the 80s & I love that Johnny kid who always wanted his two dollars lol :) :) :) :) :) :)

Cassie Hill
Cassie Hill

Super Reviewer

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