The Sure Thing review by Mike Long

In 1982, a little film called Porky's came out and created a wave of teenage sex-comedies, which combined gratuitous T&A with crude sex jokes. Despite the fact that most of these films were awful, they often turned a profit, thus the genre grew and grew. But, within this movement, a little film called The Sure Thing came along. And despite the fact that it wasn't really a teen sex-comedy, it got lumped into that category, and wasn't truly appreciated in its time. (Despite the fact that it turned a profit.) Over the years, the film has earned a growing reputation, and it is now available on DVD from MGM Home Entertainment.

John Cusack stars in The Sure Thing as Walter "Gib" Gibson, an average guy attending a Northeastern university. Gib misses high-school and feels that he doesn't fit in at college. He finds himself attracted to Alison (Daphne Zuniga), an uptight girl who focuses solely on studying and keeping to her schedule. Gib makes a pass at her and fails miserably. When Gib's best friend Lance (Anthony Edwards) invites him to California for Christmas break, Gib is reluctant at first. But, Lance informs Gib that a girl is waiting in California for him -- a girl who is a sure thing. So, Gib finds a ride to the West Coast with Gary Cooper (Tim Robbins) and Mary Ann (Lisa Jane Persky). And, Gib is very surprised to find Alison in the car as well, as she is going to California to see her boyfriend. When their transportation doesn't pan out, Gib and Alison must find their way across the country. Can two people who are exact opposites cooperate long enough to meet a common goal? And, will all of that time together create any sparks?

While The Sure Thing has certainly found its own audience over the years, it's very surprising that it got lumped in with the teen sex-comedies of the day. The film is much more of a romantic-comedy/road movie. The easiest comparison is that it's When Harry Met Sally with a younger cast. (On one of the DVD's extra features, it's commented on that Reiner begin mulling over the idea of When Harry Met Sally while on the set of The Sure Thing.) Sure, the movie contains some sophomoric humor and John Cusack is playing the quintessential lovable teenage loser, but the film has should appeal more to adults than teenagers. While most films of this era were focusing on nudity and dumb sex jokes, The Sure Thing is examining the relationship between Gib and Alison on what can arguably be called an adult level. Gib is shown to be more than just a horny guy who wants to score -- the movie dares to show that he has feelings. (But, Alison remains more of a stereotype as the stuck-up girl.)

If The Sure Thing has a flaw, it's that it doesn't work hard enough to be funny. The film definitely has some funny moments, 99% of which are provided by Cusack, but there are few true laugh out loud moments in the film. (By way of comparison, I find Cusack's Better Off Dead and One Crazy Summer to be much funnier.) Still, the film's unique approach to teen relationships takes it a long way and it is certainly helped by the cast. Cusack is wonderful here, playing the goofy guy who just wants to please everyone, and Zuniga is believable as the prissy Alison. The Sure Thing is certainly no Porky's, but then again it doesn't want to be. This is one of the few movies from the 80s that was able to take a realistic view of relationships, without taking things too seriously.

MGM Home Entertainment has done a good job with this Special Edition DVD of The Sure Thing. The disc offers both the full-frame and widescreen versions of the film. For the purposes of this review, the widescreen version was screened. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the image is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The film has cleaned up very well, as the image is sharp and clear, showing only a fine sheen of grain in the daytime shots. The colors are very good, and the image has a nice depth to it. The lettebox framing appears to be accurate. Some trace elements of artifacting and edge-enhancement can be seen, but otherwise, the movie looks great. The primary audio track on the DVD is a newly created Dolby Digital 5.1 track. This track provides clear dialogue and sound effects, but sounds quite hollow at times. The original mono track is also included here and it actually offers more resonance. The films pop music score does sound good in the 5.1 track, and this is about the only time that there is any overt surround sound action.

The DVD contains several interesting extras. We start with an audio commentary from director Rob Reiner. If youve ever heard one of Reiners commentaries, you know that hes not the most dynamic speaker, but he does talk at length here and keeps most of his comments scene-specific. He focuses mostly on describing the performances which the actors are giving and talks about the shooting locations as well. The Sure Thing can be viewed with a trivia track, which is essentially Pop Up Video. The icons which appear on the screen contain a plethora of information about the production of the film. However, the text can be slightly difficult to read at times.

The remainder of the extras can be found on side 2 of this two-sided DVD. The Road to The Sure Thing is a 26-minute featurette which gives an in-depth overview into the films production. This segment includes soundbytes from most of the cast & crew, as they discuss the script, the casting, and the production. This is a good featurette, which doesnt have that press-kit feel which can hinder so many of these outings. Next up is Dressing The Sure Thing (9 minutes) in which costume designer Durinda Wood describes how the clothing in the film was made to fit the personality of each character. Casting The Sure Thing (7 minutes) allows casting directors Jane Jenkins and Janet Hirshenson to describe the casting process and how each role was filled. Finally, we have the very odd Reading The Sure Thing in which co-writer Steven L. Bloom reads his original script treatment aloud. The DVD also contains the original theatrical trailer for the film, letterboxed at 1.85:1.


7 out of 10 Jackasses

blog comments powered by Disqus