The Sure Thing
|The Sure Thing|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Rob Reiner|
|Produced by||Henry Winkler
|Written by||Steven L. Bloom
|Music by||Tom Scott|
|Editing by||Robert Leighton|
|Distributed by||Embassy Pictures|
|Release dates||March 1, 1985|
|Running time||95 min.|
|Box office||$18,135,531 (USA) (9 June 1985)|
The Sure Thing is a 1985 romantic comedy directed by Rob Reiner, written by Steven L. Bloom and Jonathan Roberts and starring 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 the south 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 kids. The plot is also somewhat similar to the classic film It Happened One Night.
High school senior Walter Gibson (John Cusack) and his best friend Lance (Anthony Edwards) are celebrating the fact they are moving on to college, but all Gibson can do is lament the fact that he has lost his touch with women. Lance heads to UCLA while Gibson moves on to college in New England. The two keep in touch by writing letters, but Gibson’s luck has not changed. His attempt to get close to Alison Bradbury (Daphne Zuniga) 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 the beautiful girl (Nicollette Sheridan), assuring him she is a Sure Thing.
Gibson finds a ride from a ride share board to make the trip. He immediately knows it is going to be a long trip when he meets Gary Cooper (Tim Robbins) and Mary Ann Webster (Lisa Jane Persky), the couple providing the ride, as they are overly extroverted and upbeat. 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 (Boyd Gaines). The tension and constant bickering between Gibson and Alison quickly become too much for Cooper, and he abandons them on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. 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. Upon arriving in California, Alison discovers the real reason Gibson is making the trip is to meet his Sure Thing and angrily runs off.
That night at a college mixer Lance has arranged for Gibson 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 Gibson see each other at the party, but jealousy leads to a confrontation between the two. Gibson takes the Sure Thing to Lance's room, but cannot stop thinking about Alison.
Back on campus after the break, Alison and Gibson are obviously uncomfortable around each other. In their English class, Professor Taub (Viveca Lindfors) reads an essay composed by Gibson 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, and they kiss.
- John Cusack as Walter "Gib" Gibson
- Daphne Zuniga as Alison Bradbury
- Nicollette Sheridan as "The Sure Thing"
- Viveca Lindfors as Professor Taub
- Anthony Edwards as Lance
- Tim Robbins as Gary Cooper
- Boyd Gaines as Jason
- Lisa Jane Persky as Mary Ann Webster
- Fran Ryan as Lady in Car
- Larry Hankin as Trucker
- Sarah Buxton as Sharon
When casting for the part of Walter Gibson began, director Rob Reiner initially refused to meet with John Cusack because the actor was underaged at the time. It was only after being urged by casting directors Jane Jenkins and Janet Hirshenson that Cusack was allowed to audition, after which Reiner knew he had to have him for the part. Reiner would later say that he cast Cusack because he reminded him so much of himself. At the time Anthony Edwards was seriously being considered for the lead, but after Cusack got the part, Edwards was asked if he would play the best friend instead.
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.
Reviews for The Sure Thing were mostly positive with a rating of 89% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 27 reviews. Film critic Roger Ebert 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. 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". "This film gets my unapologetic nomination for greatest film ever made," said Michael Dare of LA Weekly.
The film earned over $18 million at the box office.
The Sure Thing was released on DVD August 5, 2003 as a Special Edition. The release was a single disc, but was presented as a DVD-14 (a dual-sided disc with one side dual-layered and the other single-layered). The dual-layered side contains both widescreen and standard formats of the film along with digitally enhanced 5.1 surround sound or original mono in both French and English, audio commentary by Reiner, and a trivia track. The single-layered side contains a 26 minute featurette titled The Road To The Sure thing with interviews of Rob Reiner, John Cusack, Daphne Zuniga, Nicollette Sheridan, writers Steven L. Bloom and Jonathan Roberts, and producer Roger Birnbaum. Also included are three mini-featurettes (Dressing The Sure Thing, Casting The Sure Thing, and Reading The Sure Thing) and the theatrical trailer.
- "The Road To The Sure Thing". The Sure Thing: Special Edition DVD (MGM). 2003.
- "Casting The Sure Thing". The Sure Thing: Special Edition DVD (MGM). 2003.
- Ebert, Roger (May 1, 1985). "The Sure Thing". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2010-05-15.
- Janet, Maslin (March 1, 1985). "The Sure Thing". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-15.
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