Saturday, November 4, 2023

#2,934. The Sure Thing (1985) - John Cusack in the '80s Triple Feature


Rob Reiner followed up his comedic masterpiece This is Spinal Tap (which was also his big-screen directorial debut) with 1985’s The Sure Thing, a romantic comedy starring John Cusack and Daphne Zuniga.

And with it, Reiner proved he was in Hollywood to stay. The Sure Thing is an absolute delight.

College Freshman Walter “Gib” Gibson (Cusack) has lost his touch with the ladies. Even his attempt to seduce his pretty but uptight classmate, Alison (Zuniga), ends in disaster. With Christmas break approaching, things are looking bleak for poor Gib.

But his luck may soon be changing. His best friend from high school, Lance (Anthony Edwards), tells Gib that he has set him up with a “Sure Thing”, a girl who loves sex as much as Gib needs it. And what’s more, she’s gorgeous (Nicolette Sheridan). All Gib has to do is make his way from New England to L.A. before this “Sure Thing” heads home for the holidays.

So, Gib hitches a ride with Gary (Tim Robbins) and Mary Ann (Lisa Jane Persky), who had posted a flyer on the campus bulletin board looking for people to join them as they drive out west.

To Gib’s dismay, only one other passenger will be tagging along: Alison, who is heading to UCLA to visit her boyfriend (Boyd Gaines).

Still reeling from their experience together, Gib and Alison bicker the whole time, until Gary and Mary Ann have had enough, and abandon them on a deserted road in the Midwest. Left on their own, Gib and Alison must team up if they’re to have any chance of making it to Southern California. The trip will be tough, even perilous, but through it all, they find they might be able to teach each other a thing or two about life.

John Cusack is hilarious as Gib, an outgoing, charismatic guy who knows how to have a good time. In fact, if The Sure Thing has one weakness, it’s that we don’t believe for a second that a guy like Cusack’s Gib would have any trouble with the ladies. Cusack oozes charisma in this part, and if we the audience see that, wouldn’t the girls at his school?

No matter, though, because Cusack owns this role, and he and Zuniga - also excellent as the smart but mousy and uptight Alison - are wonderful together. And it is how Reiner and screenwriters Steve Bloom and Jonathan Roberts handle the duo’s journey to California, slowly bringing them together, that makes The Sure Thing an excellent romantic comedy.

Reiner would follow up The Sure Thing with one amazing movie after another, a string of hits including Stand By Me, The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally, and his adaptation of Stephen King’s Misery. Now that’s a hell of a stretch! Quite often, The Sure Thing gets overlooked when people discuss Reiner’s early filmography, and that’s a shame. The Sure Thing deserves its place alongside all these films, and showed the world that Reiner, Cusack, and Zuniga had bright futures ahead of them.
Rating: 9 out of 10

No comments: