Classic Movie Review: The Sure Thing (1985)

Posted: November 26, 2011 in Comedy, Romance
Tags: ,

the sure thing


Walter “Gib” Gibson (John Cusack is going to college in a bucolic New England college town.  Gib is not having much luck with the ladies.  His high school friend Lance, (Anthony Edwards) who went to California for college, is sending Gib snapshots of luscious blondes with come hither looks.  After an awkward study date with a girl named Allison (Daphne Zuniga) Lance sends Gib a picture of a Sure Thing (Nicolette Sheridan) and tells him to come to California and get his Sure Thing.  He gets a ride from a guy named Gary Cooper (Tim Robbins) and his girlfriend.  Guess who’s in the car with Gib?  Allison, the overly orderly, uptight, logical girl he has nothing in common with.  After Allison strips in Gary Cooper’s car to prove to Gib that she’s not repressed, Gary leaves them on the road to hitchhike.  After Gib saves Allison from an overly amorous pickup truck driver, they continue to hitchhike to California.  Alison starts to loosen up on the road, she eats pork rinds and Gib teaches her to shotgun a beer.  But Allison is still fixated on her boyfriend Jason (Boyd Gaines) and Gib is still dreaming of his Sure Thing.  In his final night with Allison, he sleeps in the same bed with Allison (it’s totally platonic) but he dreams of Allison and not his Sure Thing, but Allison finally finds out that Gib is meeting a Sure Thing in California, and she’s not happy about it, so their final hitchhike is not a pleasant one. Allison, Jason, Gib and his Sure Thing meet at Lance’s party.  Allison seems to be set to sleep with Jason and Gib seems set to  be set to sleep with his Sure Thing.  Is that what happens?

This is a truly great romantic comedy from the 80’s.  It’s not a sex comedy along the lines of Porky’s and the seemingly thousands of coming of age movies in the 80’s, it’s more than anything a love story, a sweet gentle love story, filled with genuine laughs, and a real sense of romance.  Gib and Allison grow to love one another, they start out constantly arguing, which seems like a cliché now, but didn’t then .and the process of watching them fall in love is fun to watch.  Moreover, it’s a road movie, so we get to meet all the weird people they meet on the road.  Cusack is wonderful, playing a sweet, sensitive, intelligent guy who just can’t find the right girl for him.  He plays the comedy like a young Bill Murray and the Sure Thing was a precursor to Cusack’s classics to come, Better off Dead, Say Anything, High Fidelity ,and Serendipity, always playing a sweet, sensitive, everyman, wearing his heart on his sleeve. Daphne Zuniga is just as good as the seemingly plain Allison, who seems to have her whole life set up, only to have it turned upside down by the freewheeling Gib.  Her earnest, heartwarming performance is the perfect counterbalance to Cusack’s devil may care character.  She may seem dull and regimented, but inside Allson is aching for an adventure and boy does Gib give her one. I don’t want to overstate the greatness of this movie, but it reminds me of It Happened One Night, the classic with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert.  It’s also fun to see Tim Robbins in a comedic role, and Anthony Edwards before he hit it big in E.R. This is a classic.

The Sure Thing:  Surely the best thing since sliced bread.


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