Based on a novel by England's Nick Hornby, High Fidelity is for anyone who's ever immersed him- or herself in pop culture to the point of nearly drowning. The movie both celebrates and denigrates the kind of connoisseurship that can lead to arguments over whether an album from 20 years ago had a "the" in the title, and it's at its best when we're just hanging around the record store with Rob and his two employees, Dick (Todd Louiso) and Barry (Jack Black). Dick, who looks like a human embryo, wouldn't hurt a flea. Barry rips customers limb from limb if they like the wrong music. As for the rest of the movie, it's a little too soggy. The scriptwriters (the same guys who wrote Grosse Point Blank, including Cusack) and director Stephen Frears have transplanted the story from London to Chicago, but they've kept the rain...lots and lots of rain.
Maybe that's why Cusack seems like he has a cold. Then again, he always seems like he has a cold, which sometimes works for the character he's playing and sometimes doesn't. Here, it seems perfectly in keeping with a guy who doesn't get enough sun, but it also gives the movie a nasally whine, as if it's been sniffing too much disk-cleaner fluid. To its credit, I suppose, High Fidelity doesn't go for false cheer. That would be like listening to an entire Peter Frampton record.