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Mary Stuart Masterson,
College freshman Walter (Gib) Gibson decides to go cross country to visit his friend in California during winter break. Awaiting there is a bikini-clad babe whom his friend assures him is a "sure thing". Meanwhile, Allison, a cute (but somewhat anal retentive) girl at Gib's college has also decided to head out to Cal. to see her boyfriend during break. Gib and Allison are thrust together on a road trip from hell, and somewhere along the way, they find each other's company to be tolerable. Now, what will become of Gib's "sure thing?" Written by
Jeremy Rasmussen <email@example.com>
Having fallen for John Cusack's engaging performance as Rob in 'High Fidelity', I jumped at the chance to watch one of his earliest films, 'The Sure Thing'. And, despite a life-long hatred of "girly" films and all things romantic comedy, this slice of 80s college cheese surprisingly hit the spot.
The story is nothing new: boy (an effervescent Cusack as Walt Gibson) meets girl (Daphne Zuniga), and an antagonistic relationship is formed. He hates her studious, organised approach to life; she frowns upon his laddish, devil-may-care attitude. Inevitably, they are soon thrown together - namely by Gib's trip to California on the promise of a blond, beautiful "sure thing" from best friend Lance (Anthony Edwards) coinciding with her journey to visit her boyfriend - and opposites begin to attract.
Yet to complain that the plot is predictable would be to miss the point. You know the ending within the first five minutes: it is the journey there which is important. Director Rob Reiner handles the script with a necessarily light touch, and allows the humour to be more character-driven than situational. To the writers' credit, even the film's most obvious scenes are always relieved through it's witty and eminently quotable dialogue.
What elevates 'The Sure Thing' above the ranks of its genre contemporaries is Reiner's deft hand with a character; in particular his ability to transcend stereotypes yet create instantly recognisable, believable people, a feat he later put to effective use in 'Stand By Me'. This is underpinned by Cusack's energetic performance, showcasing what has become his staple character: the spikily droll male whose shining qualities just avoid being undermined by his easily discernible flaws.
'The Sure Thing' is also notable for its treatment of - and fondness for - the minor characters, few of whom suffer from the "obvious spare part" phenomenon of so many high school based films. Particularly commendable are Tim Robbins' disappointingly brief turn as one half of the cutesy couple from hell, and a remarkably young-looking Anthony Edwards in the long-term buddy role (notable especially for what must be one of the worst 80s fashion statements since Vanilla Ice decided on baggy trousers - see the pool scene featuring Lance's phone call from California).
Despite its premise, this film always endeavours to be about love rather than sex. A refreshing angle on a well-worn tale, 'The Sure Thing' provides a welcome escape from the 'American Pie' view of teenage romance. With consistently endearing performances from both Cusack and Zuniga, this is one romantic comedy I would happily give a second viewing.
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