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    The Sure Thing

    Universal/Universal . R4 . COLOR . 91 mins . M15+ . PAL


    John Cusack barely looks old enough to even have sex in this film classic from 1985. A cut above the average teenager booby flick of the time, and a youthful rendition of a road trip film, The Sure Thing is amongst a small number of college films made in the '80s that still have a fundamental truth at their core that is as true today as ever. I mean, it’s no Fraternity Vacation

    Walter 'Gib' Gibson (Cusack) is a regular guy separated from his party animal best friend by colleges on different coasts. Never one for the party scene as much as his pal, Gib is also interested in astronomy and intellectual pursuits amidst his beer-fuelled breakfasts. When he takes a shine to Alison (Daphne Zuniga pre-Melrose Place), a bookish honour student, she takes an instant dislike to him.

    "Spontaneity has a time and a place!"

    He manages to get her to help him pass English, but foolishly he tries his roommate’s moves on her and she burns him down. Then, before we know it, it’s time to go home for Christmas. Gibson gets invited by his party animal best friend to come to California to meet a ‘sure thing’ (meaning she’ll have sex with him, she doesn’t care). However, Alison is also on her way to Los Angeles to meet her nerdish boyfriend and they both end up riding in a car with two priggish dorks who like show tunes. Before long they annoy their drivers by fighting and they get dumped out on the side of the road, miles from anywhere and desperately needing to get to L.A. (for different reasons of course). Hilarity and a bridging of hostilities ensues…

    The Sure Thing, while solidly mired in 1985, is still eminently watchable today if you can abide the garish radio rock of the time pumping out at any given opportunity. The story of two young people learning a little about the way other people live and adapting to suit is a timely one, and the film’s humour and the chemistry between Zuniga and Cusack is fantastic. Nowhere near as bawdy and funhouse as the title may suggest, the sexual nature of the theme gets entirely toned down from start to finish. In fact, the only real sex scene occurs from the brutish roommate of Gibson performing some sort of miracle position with his partner.

    I first saw this film in high school and moments of it have stayed with me for the length of the period since. It’s a funny, warm, yet still silly film and an early work from director Rob Reiner who went on to numerous other comedies since. And not to say this is essential viewing, but it does have an attraction that has outweighed the Fraternity Vacations and the Porky’s in the years since. I enjoyed it all over again and consider it worth checking out (if only to whisk you away to that time in your life once more).


    Surprisingly sharp for a film from 1985. Picture quality is excellent and the overall print is fairly clear of film artefacts. Colours are even and well saturated and flesh tones are natural. Shadow detail is above the average of releases from this period and blacks remain mostly true to life. There is some minor macro blocking during the black screens and heavier blacks in shot, but this isn’t too obvious and isn’t really offensive. A nice anamorphically enhanced 1.85:1 cinema aspect ratio brings us this overall nice visual transfer way better than video of the time ever could have.


    Dialogue is essentially clear, although some sentences did get a little lost on me. Not that it truly matters much with not a huge complicated plot going down, and the problem lies in the original print anyway. Sound effects are fine and synch up nicely enough while the music blares out at us anytime anyone is even thinking of partying. If you can dig on tracks from Rod Stewart, Huey Lewis, Quiet Riot, Sammy Hagar (pre-Van Halen), the J. Geils Band, The Eagles, The Cars, Lionel Richie and all-time favourites Wang Chung, then hey, go nuts. All the music sounds fine though, with Tom Scott’s score filling in any blanks in an entirely ‘invisible’ manner. It’s all brought to us care of Dolby Digital stereo and this is more than suitable to the end product.


    Somewhere, there are a bag of extras on the side of a dirt escarpment, patiently waiting for their retrieval for this disc. So in other words, while Region 1 got a feature-stuffed 'Special Edition', we got squat.


    The Sure Thing has survived the almost 20 years since its release in marvellous fashion. The print and transfer are remarkably clean and the story content holds up well with its universal factors and simple plot devices. John Cusack and Daphne Zuniga work great together and I was always waiting to see her turn up in more stuff (until Melrose Place anyway). At any rate, she does great here.

    The Sure Thing is a good early effort from Rob Reiner and still has its fair share of laughs today. Watching it with a friend who hadn’t seen it before was great and her laughter proved to me the film still has that certain something that has survived the years. Again, well worth checking out.

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      And I quote...
    "This mid ‘80s vehicle has survived the years remarkably well; and that includes the content and the laughs."
    - Jules Faber
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