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Better Off Dead (1)

Science on Screen Ⓡ presents BETTER OFF DEAD, followed by a presentation on Love and Loss by Dr. Dr. Galena Rhoades

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On Wednesday, May 15th at 7pm, our 2024 Science on Screen® series of film screenings and presentations continues with writer/director Savage Steve Holland’s iconic 1985 black comedy classic, Better Off Dead. This special screening will be followed by presentation Navigating Love and Loss: The Psychology of Better Off Dead by Dr. Galena Rhoades.  Click here for tickets!


John Cusack stars as Lane Meyer, a teen with a peculiar family, and a bizarre fixation with his girlfriend Beth (Amanda Wyss). After Beth dumps him, he enters into a deep depression, alternately spending time with oddball buddy Charles (Curtis Armstrong), doodling depressing cartoons into his sketch pad, making bumbling attempts at suicide, and evading his community’s menacing paperboy. Encouraged by his new neighbor Monique (Diane Franklin), a visiting French student, he decides to win back Beth’s affections by challenging her obnoxious new beau on the ski slopes, with some surprising and humorous results.

ABOUT THE PRESENTATION: Navigating Love and Loss: The Psychology of Better Off Dead

Have you ever wondered what an 80s cult classic film can teach us about the psychology of love and heartbreak? Join Dr. Galena Rhoades as she delves into the intricate world of relationships through the lens of the cult classic film, Better Off Dead. Dr. Rhoades will explore the predictors of relationship success, offering valuable insight into improving the outcomes of romantic relationships. Additionally, Dr. Rhoades will illuminate the impact of breakups on our psychological well-being, examining the positive and negative ramifications. Discover strategies for navigating the complexities of heartache and emerge with a deeper understanding of how to transform breakup experiences into opportunities for growth and resilience.

Dr. Galena Rhoades is a Research Professor and the Director of the Institute for Relationship Science at the University of Denver and a practicing clinical psychologist. Her research program focuses on romantic relationship formation processes and predictors of relationship success as well as studies of the effectiveness of couple intervention programs, of which she has over 130 publications in these areas. Dr. Rhoades founded the Denver non-profit Thriving Families, which offers MotherWise, a relationship education program for women and teen parents during pregnancy and postpartum, as well as mental health services.


Atalia Lopez is an Australian transplant, Letterboxd devotee, and Frida Cinema board member. She teaches classes on the intersection of film, literature, and the urban environment at Chapman University, and is proudly responsible for exposing hundreds of students to David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive. Atalia completed her undergraduate studies in literature at Chapman University and holds a master’s degree from the University of Oxford. You may also know her as the host of The Frida’s monthly Film Trivia Nights, where she invented the “fourth round stretch.”


Science on Screen is an initiative of the Coolidge Corner Theatre, with major support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and their grant initiative brings science to cinemas nationwide. The Coolidge Corner Theatre’s series has enhanced film and scientific literacy with this popular program, which launched at the Coolidge in 2005 in partnership with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and its pioneering nationwide film program. Since 2011, Sloan has awarded the Coolidge over $4 million to develop and administer Science on Screen programs around the US through partnerships with other nonprofits. The Coolidge has in turn awarded 393 grants totaling over $2.5 million to 121 film and science-focused organizations in 44 states (plus Washington, DC) across the country. Learn more at

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