It’s an image that looms large in popular movie culture: a forlorn John Cusack standing in the rain like a lost Labrador, clothes sodden. But what film are you imagining? You’d seriously have to take your pick of like, ten possible movies in which that image appears. Because it always rains on John Cusack, and nobody really knows why.
For over three decades, like it’s some kind of ongoing joke in the movie industry, filmmakers have continued to place Cusack’s marker squarely under the rain machine. Hell, in 2003’s Identity almost every scene saw Cusack in the rain. The actor is a seasoned downpour-dweller now. He’s used to it, he expects it. Let’s take a look at his finest moments in the rain, soaked to the bone.
The Sure Thing (1985)
Early in Cusack’s career, just after Sixteen Candles, he starred in a teen movie about a plucky kid who hopes to get laid (basically every teen movie you’ve ever seen) while on a cross-country trip. Trouble is, for this road trip he gets lumped with a girl who’s got a boyfriend. Like Tupac and Janet Jackson in Poetic Justice, they’re an unfortunate mismatch, and as with Poetic Justice they won’t stay a mismatch for long. Where does the turning point come? Probably when a storm descends on the pair and things can’t seem to get any worse.
Hot Pursuit (1987)
Just how does Cusack end up on a sailboat in the Caribbean, with a strange bearded man, amidst a particularly unforgiving storm? He’s chasing girls again. He’s gone out there to find his rich girlfriend who’s holidaying there with her family. He’s lovestruck. He’s wet. Again.
Say Anything… (1989)
For me, Say Anything‘s iconic scene is not the Peter-Gabriel-on-the-boombox-declaration-of-love, it’s the scene where he’s on the phone in the rain while the camera zooms in to that sappy-looking face he does so well. It was here, surely, where other filmmakers sat up in their seats and noted how a sopping wet John Cusack is better than any other kind of John Cusack.
Being John Malkovich (1999)
In the late 90s, John Cusack was spat out of the mind of John Malkovich – literally – and landed in a ditch near the New Jersey Turnpike. It’s a scene that, with the directorial flare of Spike Jonze, could only be made better with the addition of rain. Heavy rain. So they poured buckets on Cusack again.
High Fidelity (2000)
Harking back to the lovelorn hero of Say Anything, this scene from the break-up movie par excellence High Fidelity once again utilizes a deluge in order to amplify Cusack’s heartbreak. It’s a scene that could only have been bettered with the accompaniment of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes”.
America’s Sweethearts (2001)
Even if you haven’t seen this film – and I don’t recommend it – you can probably guess what Cusack is mad and upset about here. Yep, another girl. And you know what happens when Cusack gets mad and upset about a girl. Cue downpour.
The wettest you’ll ever see John Cusack is in Identity. It’s a neo-noir set entirely at one dingy roadside motel, and set almost entirely in a single rainstorm. Presumably Cusack was admitted to hospital with trench foot following the shoot.
Lastly there’s Roland Emmerich’s disastrous disaster movie, in which Cusack isn’t technically enduring harsh precipitation but more of a battle-against-time flood on a ship. He’s knee-deep in water, waving his torch around in what appears to be rain but is actually just shoddy plumbing? It counts, guys.