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A Movie A Day: THE SURE THING (1985)
Excuse me, won’t you? I have to go kick the shit out of someone.

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day. [For those now joining us, A Movie A Day is my attempt at filling in gaps in my film knowledge. My DVD collection is thousands strong, many of them films I haven’t seen yet, but picked up as I scoured used DVD stores. Each day I’ll pull a previously unseen film from my collection and discuss it here. Each movie will have some sort of connection to the one before it, be it cast or crew member.] Tim Robbins bridges us from yesterday’s CADILLAC MAN to today’s 1985 romantic dramedy THE SURE THING. It’s movies like this that make me love this column. The DVD art on this looked boring. The movie doesn’t have much of a reputation. But this film sits comfortably on the shelf next to the sub-sub comedy category of ‘80s John Cusack comedies. I love ‘80s Cusack. SAY ANYTHING, ONE CRAZY SUMMER and (of course) BETTER OFF DEAD stand out to me… yeah, I even love ONE CRAZY SUMMER… If it was just cute Demi Moore, John Cusack and the insanely fake, yet still terrifying rabid dolphin. He doesn’t disappoint here. In fact, the film opens with a great ‘80s John Cusack monologue, when he’s trying to get into a girl’s pants at a party, the last shindig before everyone goes their separate ways to colleges near and far, north, south, east and west. I would have used the final line from that in the subhead if it wasn’t so damn long. In the end he promises her a sexual experience so strong that it’d change her political orientation. In fact, Cusack is so much in his prime here that his presence alone made me dig the flick. He has another scene where he rescues his main romantic interest, Alison (Daphne Zuniga), from a touchy-feely truck driver by pretending to be insane that I was literally laughing for 3 minutes straight. I had to pause the movie. Butlike I said, I’m a sucker for ‘80s John Cusack. Basically you have Cusack off East at an Ivy League school while his high school best buddy (played by Anthony Edwards in a completely different capacity from his other well known ‘80s college comedy, REVENGE OF THE NERDS) is in Southern California. Cusack is having a hard time at it, striking out with the ladies, especially Zuniga, who sits next to him in his English class. She’s his opposite. She’s completely organized, she abstains from all vices, is a bookworm, but doesn’t have a voice. She’s technically profiscient, but there’s no soul. She doesn’t live life, she plans life. Cusack is her exact opposite, hence the attraction. But he blows his first date with her and in a depressed state he calls Edwards in California, who tells him he needs to come out and spend the Christmas holiday out there because he has a “Sure Thing” lined up for him. Meaning a hot, horny girl that is a guaranteed sexual monster without any strings. Nicollette Sheridan plays the Sure Thing briefly at the end and in many photo-shoot-like dream sequences. The only problem Cusack has is getting to her. Of course, Zuniga has an uptight boyfriend in Southern California, so she’s headed west, too and they find themselves in the same ride-share, with the creepily cheerful Cooper couple, led by Tim Robbins (“I’m Gary Cooper, but not the Gary Cooper that’s dead.”) in another great comic performance. From here on out, it’s about as predictable as you can get with Romantic Comedies. Opposites attract, bad fortune befalls them at every turn and they fall in love on the way to their other social partners. I quite liked Zuniga in this role. I must confess I knew her almost exclusively as Princess Vespa (in fact she has a scene with Cusack when he asks her what she wanted to be as a kid and she said, “A princess.” I said out loud to nobody… except maybe my cat… “Great. That’s just what we need. A Druish Princess.”), but she plays the role with more than one dimension and she chooses to play down her looks for most of the movie. Maybe that one wasn’t her choice, but she embraces it is what I’m saying. What makes her attractive in this movie is that she’s a real girl, not an It Girl Of The Moment. Rob Reiner directed this film in-between SPINAL TAP and STAND BY ME (which he followed with PRINCESS BRIDE, WHEN HARRY MET SALLY and MISERY). What a great era for Reiner and while I would count this film as the lesser of the three, I’m more than a little surprised that it isn’t at least as well known. Final thoughts: The film has an undeniable charm, thanks in large part to the great leading performances from Cusack and Zuniga as well as the sharp writing by Steve Bloom and Jonathan Roberts. Rob Reiner was in his prime during this time period as well. All of his movies have a heart and soul here, which isn’t something I can say about his current run. The movie is unquestionably ‘80s (look at the hot neon pink “handwriting style” opening credits if you don’t believe me), but that just adds to its charm. At least it did for me.

The schedule for the next 7 days is: Sunday, July 20th: MOVING VIOLATIONS (1985) Monday, July 21st: MEATBALLS (1979) Tuesday, July 22nd: CAST A GIANT SHADOW (1966) Wednesday, July 23rd: OUT OF THE PAST (1947) Thursday, July 24th: THE BIG STEAL (1949) Friday, July 25th: WHERE DANGER LIVES (1950) Saturday, July 26th: CROSSFIRE (1947) Tomorrow we follow DoP Robert Elswit to another ‘80s comedy, MOVING VIOLATIONS starring Bill Murray’s brother, John, from the creators of the original POLICE ACADEMY. See you folks then! -Quint

Previous Movies: June 2nd: Harper
June 3rd: The Drowning Pool
June 4th: Papillon
June 5th: Gun Crazy
June 6th: Never So Few
June 7th: A Hole In The Head
June 8th: Some Came Running
June 9th: Rio Bravo
June 10th: Point Blank
June 11th: Pocket Money
June 12th: Cool Hand Luke
June 13th: The Asphalt Jungle
June 14th: Clash By Night
June 15th: Scarlet Street
June 16th: Killer Bait (aka Too Late For Tears)
June 17th: Robinson Crusoe On Mars
June 18th: City For Conquest
June 19th: San Quentin
June 20th: 42nd Street
June 21st: Dames
June 22nd: Gold Diggers of 1935
June 23rd: Murder, My Sweet
June 24th: Born To Kill
June 25th: The Sound of Music
June 26th: Torn Curtain
June 27th: The Left Handed Gun
June 28th: Caligula
June 29th: The Elephant Man
June 30th: The Good Father
July 1st: Shock Treatment
July 2nd: Flashback
July 3rd: Klute
July 4th: On Golden Pond
July 5th: The Cowboys
July 6th: The Alamo
July 7th: Sands of Iwo Jima
July 8th: Wake of the Red Witch
July 9th: D.O.A.
July 10th: Shadow of A Doubt
July 11th: The Matchmaker
July 12th: The Black Hole
July 13th: Vengeance Is Mine
July 14th: Strange Invaders
July 15th: Sleuth
July 16th: Frenzy
July 17th: Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut
July 18th: Cadillac Man

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