Love on the Big Screen is an 80s music and movies themed novel about a college student whose understanding of love has been shaped by late-eighties romantic comedies. The protagonist Zuke, whose heroes are Say Anything’s Lloyd Dobler and Sixteen Candles’ Farmer Ted, thinks his love life should be like all the John Hughes films he’s seen. It’s not that Zuke looks for a woman with common interests or someone with whom he has a lot to talk about, he just spots the best looking woman he can and tries to get her romantic attention, usually not until after he’s talked about her for six months with his buddies in the dorm rooms.
With John Cusack’s Dobler as a model, (remember the Keymaster?) Zuke believes in the grand romantic gesture, believes that if he can just remember to be the chivalrous suitor, the sort of man who brushes broken glass out of a date’s way or in a moment of crisis thinks of something as spectacular as putting a boom box over his head, then Zuke knows, everything will be okay. In Michael Anthony Hall’s Farmer Ted, Zuke sees a skinny and un-athletic geek who somehow gets the girl. If that guy can get a woman, why can’t he?
Zuke and his buddies form a sort of secret society of men who pledge allegiance to Cyndi Lauper, wear nothing but monogrammed boxer shorts and medieval helmets, while reporting to one another on the four sacred pursuits: God, knowledge, compassion, and women. From WWF wrestling, (watch out for the Camel Clutch) to Max Headroom, Wacky Wall Walkers, and The Cutting Crew, this is a novel that not only provides a scrapbook to the decade that brought us Bon Jovi and Donkey Kong, it will also cause us to look back and wonder just how much influence all those films might have done to the ways in which we all understand love. Bueller, are you out there?