Film: The Sure Thing

A 1985 Romantic Comedy directed by Rob Reiner, starring John Cusack and Daphne Zuniga.

Walter "Gib" Gibson (Cusack) is just an 18-year-old Cool Loser at some snowy New England college, trying to get laid and trolling on Allison (Zuniga), the Brainy Brunette in his English class. It's not going well. Then Lance, his best friend from high school who's now going to college in Los Angeles, sends him a picture of a hot blonde, with the assurance that she's "a sure thing." If Gib can make it out to LA for winter break before "the sure thing" goes off for a semester at sea, he can totally bag that.Gib goes along on a rideshare, only it turns out that Allison's going to LA to visit her boyfriend too...

Tim Robbins has a small part as a cheerful student who ultimately regrets sharing a ride with Allison and Gib.


This film provides examples of:

  • Attempted Rape: the cowboy hitchhiker who picks up Allison.
  • Beergasm
  • Buses Are for Freaks: After Gib gets into the shared-ride car and finds Allison, she says "I knew I should have taken the bus", and he says "What, and get stuck sitting next to some scumbag?" Sure enough, when they do go to a bus station, there are dirty homeless people sleeping on the benches.
  • Buxom Is Better: After Gib finally sees The Sure Thing in person, and expresses reluctance, a nonplussed Lance says "The breasts are too small?"
  • California Doubling: most of the East Coast college scenes (the ones without snow) were filmed at University of the Pacific.
  • Cool Teacher: Professor Taub
  • Credit Card Plot: Inverted, as Allison is excessively responsible. Gib and Allison have lost all their money and are stuck in a rainstorm, trying to break into a locked trailer for shelter, when she remembers a credit card her father had given her. But then she remembers something important:
    Allison: Oh. My dad told me *specifically* I can only use it in case of an emergency.
    Gib: Well, maybe one will come up.
  • Cue the Rain: Gib is engaging in a river of complaints when the two of them are stuck by the roadside without any money. An irritated Allison says "Can't you look on the bright side?" This is followed by a clap of thunder and a Biblical rainstorm.
  • Did I Mention It's Christmas?: Everyone is still at college partying on December 22 or so? And nobody's parents are demanding to see them for the holidays?
  • Did They or Didn't They?: Gib and "the sure thing", revealed at the end when they're back at school.
  • Disney Theme Parks: At one point Allison wants to go to Disneyland, only to be brutally rebuffed with "Disneyland is for children."
  • Disposable Boyfriend: Jason, who's a total nerd and hates all fun... except maybe gin rummy.
  • Exact Eavesdropping: in the cab
  • Fanservice: the opening credits will leave you in no doubt of who or what the Sure Thing is.
  • Flyover Country: Director Rob Reiner went to UCLA; writers Steven Bloom and Jonathan Roberts went to Brown. The scenes in the unnamed New England Ivy League-type college and at UCLA are very sharply detailed. The 3000 miles between, in contrast, are in good old generic America.
  • Imagine Spot: A couple where Gib fantasizes about the Sure Thing.
  • Improv: John Cusack did a lot of this in the movie, according to the commentary/trivia tracks. Especially any scene involving beer.
  • Kavorka Man: Gil's roommate Jimbo is very skilled at getting the ladies, despite being heavyset and rather unkempt.
  • Left Your Lifesaver Behind: When Gib and Allison leave the hotel room, Allison accidentally leaves her all-important planner (which contains all her money) behind.
  • Love Before First Sight: Gib having the hots for (if not being in love with) "the sure thing" just from her photo. Also Girl of My Dreams, though for the realistic reason of him having seen her photo first. And in the end he doesn't end up with her.
  • A Man Is Not a Virgin: And Gib is very offended when he's mistaken for one.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Allison, who didn't, but you could reasonably guess by what she says about Gib's sleeping habits that she did.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Gib, since Lance told "the sure thing" he was a virgin and probably this too.
  • Nice Hat: Professor Taub is always wearing hers.
  • No Name Given: The "sure thing", played by Nicollette Sheridan.
  • Official Kiss: At the very end of the movie, atop the same roof Gib took Allison when he was first trying to get with her, confirming that they are a couple.
  • Pillow Pregnancy: Allison fakes one to get a ride.
  • Playboy: Well, Penthouse, but—Jimbo writes a "I never thought this would happen to me" letter, which Gib mistakenly grabs and turns in as his English homework. Naturally, it's read in front of the class.
  • Quest for Sex: Gib travels all the way across the country to get with this girl.
  • Really Gets Around: The Sure Thing. Her promiscuity doesn't come from an Ethical Slut standpoint but from an apparent mixture of Extreme Doormat and extreme emotional neediness. When Gib asks her to sit down she says "Do you want me to?", and as his composition for English class reveals, she needs hm to say that he loves her before they can have sex.
  • Road Trip Plot
  • Road Trip Romance: The plot is based off of the Trope Maker; It Happened One Night.
  • Seven Minute Lull: one happens at the big party.
    The Sure Thing: And he said he thinks you might be gay.
  • Sex as Rite-of-Passage: Gib isn't a virgin, but his goal in life is to get laid some more.
  • This Is My Side: played straight at first and then later relaxed quite a bit.
  • Thunder Equals Downpour: See Gilligan Cut above.
  • Uptight Loves Wild: Straight-laced Allison falling for madcap Gib.
  • Whole Plot Reference: Suspiciously similar to It Happened One Night. It's a Road Movie, in The Eighties, WITH TEENAGERS!
  • Wild Teen Party: The shindig that Lance is hosting in California, where Gib finally meets The Sure Thing.