The Sure Thing

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The Sure Thing
Sure thingposter.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRob Reiner
Produced by
Written by
Music byTom Scott
CinematographyRobert Elswit
Edited byRobert Leighton
Mounment Productions
Distributed byEmbassy Pictures
Release date
  • March 1, 1985 (1985-03-01)
Running time
95 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$4,500,000 (estimated)
Box office$18,135,531 (US)[1]

The Sure Thing is a 1985 American adventure comedy romance film written by Steven L. Bloom and Jonathan Roberts and directed by Rob Reiner. The film stars John Cusack, Daphne Zuniga, Viveca Lindfors, and Nicollette Sheridan. The film chronicles the cross-country journey of college students Walter Gibson (Cusack) and Alison Bradbury (Zuniga) as they make their way from New England to Los Angeles, each in an effort to meet their ideal match.

The origins of the film came from an experience writer Steven L. Bloom had while attending Brown University. During this time, his best friend was attending Emory University in Atlanta, GA and was constantly recounting the good times he was having while absolutely nothing was going on for Bloom. Out of pity over his situation his friend arranged for him to meet a sure thing over spring break, so Bloom found a ride through a ride board and drove to Atlanta with a number of other students.[2]


High school senior Walter Gibson and his best friend Lance are celebrating the fact they are moving on to college, but all Walter can do is lament the fact that he has lost his touch with women. Lance heads to UCLA while Walter moves on to college in New England. The two keep in touch by writing letters, but Walter's luck has not changed. His attempt to get close to Alison Bradbury from his English class by tricking her into tutoring him only results in his angering and alienating her. Eventually he receives a phone call from Lance telling him to come to California for Christmas break because he has set him up with a beautiful girl, assuring him she is a Sure Thing.

Walter finds a ride from a ride share board to make the trip. He meets Gary Cooper and Mary Ann Webster, the couple providing the ride. Things go from bad to worse when he realizes he will be sitting next to Alison as she heads to UCLA to visit her boyfriend Jason. The tension and bickering between Walter and Alison becomes too much for Cooper, and he abandons them on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere and Alison hitches a ride which turns out to be a big mistake. The driver stops at a deserted little pocket of the road and attempts to rape her, but Walter comes to her rescue just in the nick of time. As they hitch to California, they overcome issues with transportation, weather, lack of food, lack of money, and sleeping arrangements, while at the same time developing genuine feelings for one another. En route to California, Alison discovers the real reason Walter made the trip is to meet his "sure thing" and angrily walks away after they arrive.

That night at a college mixer Lance has arranged for Walter to meet his "sure thing". Meanwhile, Alison is spending a boring night with Jason when she drags him to the same mixer for some fun. Alison and Walter see each other at the party, but jealousy leads to a confrontation between the two. Walter takes the "sure thing" to Lance's room, but cannot stop thinking about Alison.

Back on campus after the break, Alison and Walter are obviously uncomfortable around each other. In their English class, Professor Taub reads an essay composed by Walter as a writing assignment, which is a description of his night with the "sure thing". The girl in the essay asks the protagonist if he loves her, but for the first time he realizes that those are not just words and he cannot sleep with her. Alison realizes what actually happened that night, she tells Walter that she and Jason broke up, and they kiss.



When casting for the part of Walter Gibson began, director Rob Reiner initially refused to meet with John Cusack because the actor was under-aged. Casting directors Jane Jenkins and Janet Hirshenson convinced Reiner to audition Cusack, after which Reiner knew he had to have him for the part. At the time Anthony Edwards was seriously being considered for the lead, but after Cusack got the part, Edwards was offered the best friend role instead.[3]

At the time of his casting, Cusack was still 16 and had not yet graduated from high school, so producer Roger Birnbaum had to go to court to have him emancipated. During the filming of the movie, Birnbaum then became Cusack's legal guardian.[2]


Many popular songs were used in the film but a soundtrack was never officially released. The following is a list of tracks featured in the film:[4]

1."Infatuation"Rod Stewart 
2."The Heart of Rock & Roll"Huey Lewis and The News 
3."Two Sides of Love"Sammy Hagar 
4."Party All Night"Quiet Riot 
5."Tears"John Waite 
6."Concealed Weapons"J. Geils Band 
7."The Age of Aquarius"The Fifth Dimension 
8."Button Up Your Overcoat"Ruth Etting 
9."Feelings"Morris Albert 
10."Heartache Tonight"The Eagles 
11."The Fast One"J.D. Souther 
12."Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire"Mel Tormé and Robert Wells 
13."You Might Think"The Cars 
14."Dance Hall Days"Wang Chung 
15."Penny Lover"Lionel Richie 
16."Lights Out"Peter Wolf 
17."Just Because"Ray Charles 


Box office[edit]

The film earned over $18 million at the box office.[1]


Reviews for The Sure Thing were mostly positive. Film critic Roger Ebert, who gave it three-and-a-half stars out of four, praised the film and called it a "small miracle" for its handling of teenage material in an era when movies like Porky's were the norm.[5] In a review for The New York Times, Janet Maslin wrote that The Sure Thing was "glowing proof of two things: Traditional romantic comedy can be adapted to suit the teen-age trade, and Mr. Reiner's contribution to This Is Spinal Tap was more than a matter of humor".[6] As of October 2018, the film holds a rating of 85% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 34 reviews. The website's critical consensus reads: "Though its final outcome is predictable, The Sure Thing is a charming, smartly written, and mature teen comedy featuring a breakout role for John Cusack.[7]


  1. ^ a b The Sure Thing at Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2014-07-29.
  2. ^ a b "The Road To The Sure Thing". The Sure Thing: Special Edition DVD. MGM. 2003.
  3. ^ "Casting The Sure Thing". The Sure Thing: Special Edition DVD. MGM. 2003.
  4. ^ "The Sure Thing Soundtrack". The 80s Movies Rewind. Archived from the original on November 25, 2011.
  5. ^ Ebert, Roger (May 1, 1985). "The Sure Thing". Ebert Digital LLC. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  6. ^ Janet, Maslin (March 1, 1985). "The Sure Thing". The New York Times. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  7. ^

External links[edit]