The Sure Thing (1985) Rob Reiner (3x)
Shout! Factory Blu-ray (1:35)
Even when I saw The Sure Thing for the first time during its initial release, I knew there was something that separated it from typical teenage sex comedies. In fact, despite its title, The Sure Thing is not a sex comedy. Sure, there’s talk of sex (the entire plot depends on it) and there’s comedy, but it’s not really a sex comedy.
It’s a love story. And as corny as it may sound, it’s the kind of love story they don’t make anymore.
Gib Gibson (John Cusack, above right) is a college student on the East Coast who’s striking out with the ladies (which might not surprise you, considering the line he delivers above). He’s promised a “sure thing” (i.e. a girl he can bed easily) by his friend Lance (Anthony Edwards) in Los Angeles. In the meantime, Gib’s attracted to Alison (Daphne Zuniga, below right), one of his classmates who won’t give Gib half a chance. She’s everything he’s not: serious, studious, goal-oriented, and not in the mood for any BS whatsoever. Gib might as well have BS tattooed across his forehead. His entire college career is filled with carefree shenanigans. But we know Gib’s the kind of guy that won’t give up on Alison, even though a sure thing is waiting for him in California.
Finally Christmas vacation arrives and Gib has to find a way to LA. Alison also needs to get to LA to see her fiancee. And…. guess what? They both unknowingly wind up together, accepting a ride from a nerdy couple (Tim Robbins, in an early role, and Lisa Jane Persky) who can’t stop singing show tunes. This is where the real fun starts.
We have a pretty good idea where the movie’s going, but what surprises us is how charming and entertaining the journey is. The Sure Thing is part road trip, part screwball/romantic comedy (a film not too far removed from It Happened One Night). Director Rob Reiner has made many good, entertaining films, especially early in his career, but The Sure Thing (only his second non-TV movie after the classic This Is Spinal Tap) has been largely forgotten, overshadowed by the successes of Stand By Me, The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally…, Misery, all of them good films, all of them hits. The Sure Thing is fun, sometimes silly, but so charming that you’re drawn in, even though you know exactly how it’s going to end. Cusack and Zuniga are both exceptional here, showing that their comedy chops (including both delivery and timing), even at a relatively young age, were absolutely solid. 30+ years later, The Sure Thing is still fun, still charming. If you’ve never seen it, it’s certainly worth discovering. If you have, it’s one of those rare films that delivers just as much (maybe more) than it did 30 years ago.