Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: John Cusack, Daphne Zuniga, Viveca Lindfors, Nicollette Sheridan
Director: Rob Reiner
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Mono, French Dolby Mono
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1, Full Screen 1.33:1
Studio: MGM
Features: See Review
Length: 95 Minutes
Release Date: August 5, 2003

“What are you doing?”

“I'm going to bed.”

“Not with me you're not.”

“I'm not going to bed with you, I'm going to bed in a bed you happen to be in also.”

Film ***

Very few romantic comedies manage to capture the level of sweetness and all around satisfactory the way Rob Reiner's The Sure Thing does. Back in the 80s, teen romantic comedies were at their most frequent, and most of them were able to hit the mark in terms of both laughs and endless charm. As stunning as this may seem, some of these movies have a spark of staying power in them, and this is indeed one of those films. Writer/director Reiner, who was just coming off his critically acclaimed cult favorite, This Is Spinal Tap, wove together a thoroughly engaging charmer of a film, which created a memorable romance between two unlikely characters in a sweet rendition of It Happened One Night.  

Walter “Gib” Gibson (John Cusack) is a first year college student who's adjusted to college life just fine, being that he fits the mold of the typical male who's primary goal is party constantly and score with the hot chicks. In other words, Gib isn't too good with the women on the campus, since none of the ones he encounters seem too intellectual and not wanting what he wants. His every attempt at planning an act of spontaneous sex with a female candidate fails instantly.

Then his luck starts to change. Gib's best friend from high school, Lance (Anthony Edwards), who's attending college closer to home in California, offers an unbeatable proposal to him at the dawn of Christmas break. A beautiful blonde babe is awaiting his arrival in California for a no questions type of engagement. In other words, she's the ideal “sure thing”.

However, in order to get to California at the right time, Gib must endure a cross-country journey alongside Alison (Daphne Zuniga), a woman whom Gib attempted to hit on earlier, and someone who seems to despise every inch of him. And this is just the start of the couple's hair-raising adventure. Before long, the two are stranded together on a highway road after irritating the life out of Alison's friends and way of transportation. Gib and Alison now have to put up with each other for a lengthy trip to California.

As the two manage to get from one state to the next without killing each other, unintended feelings start to present themselves. It isn't too long before Gib may start questioning his real reason for going to California before he starts to admit what he feels in his heart, but the truth may not sit well with Allison.

At the heart of The Sure Thing is the wonderful chemistry between John Cusack and Daphne Zuniga. We buy them both as feuding companions, as well as the possibility of their feelings for each other. Cusack, in particular, is winning as always in the type of role that he was known for in the 80s, which would resonate later in Say Anything.

Warmhearted, endlessly charming, and an all-around feel good movie for sure, The Sure Thing is a memorable, if somewhat by-the-numbers romantic comedy that manages to have strengths in the writing and the characters brought to life by the two leads. To this day, it remains one of the essential date movies, in my opinion.

BONUS TRIVIA: Tim Robbins appears in one of his first movies in the small role of Gary Cooper, but not the dead one.

Video ***

A pleasant surprise. MGM manages to take near twenty year old flick, apply the old school format of a double-sided disc, and still manages to pull off a nice look of a presentation. The anamorphic picture (a full frame version is also included) resonates quite nicely, resulting in both solid picture, good use of colors, and an all around striking amount of detail. Not all the way excellence, but given the age of the movie, this is a much exceptional release.

Audio **1/2

Remastered in a 5.1 mix, the sound quality is far from perfect, but at the same time sounds a whole lot better than most movies on DVD from this time period. Numerous 80s songs by the likes of Rod Stewart and Huey Lewis get the best sound performance, and dialogue manages the sound as clear as it possibly can. Other than that, not too much action going on but in the front area.

Features ***1/2

A well assorted Special Edition release, which features some nice, essential extras. Included is a commentary track by Rob Reiner, a running trivia track, a retrospective featurette titled “The Road to The Sure Thing”, as well as three additional featurettes, and a trailer gallery.


MGM brings the 80s to DVD, as the release of The Sure Thing illustrates. Romantic comedy lovers look no further, as this one has all the winning ingredients of a superb charming flick.