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With: John Cusack, Daphne Zuniga, Vivica Lindfors, Nicolette Sheridan, Anthony Edwards, Tim Robbins
Written by: Steven L. Bloom, Jonathan Roberts
Directed by: Rob Reiner
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 95
Date: 03/01/1985
IMDB

The Sure Thing (1985)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Fer 'Sure'

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Note: The following is a combined DVD review/interview, interspersed with quotes from my phone conversation with Daphne Zuniga.

Part of the pleasure of viewing The Sure Thing (1985, MGM/UA, $19.98) is how sweet and wonderful the movie is, despite its lurid, Porky's-style packaging with a bikini-clad object of desire (Nicolette Sheridan) straddling the video box.

A kind of modern take on Capra's It Happened One Night, Rob Reiner's second movie has charming underachiever John Cusack sharing a cross-country ride with prim, pretty Daphne Zuniga. She's heading out to see her tea-drinking preppie fiancée and he, to a "Sure thing" -- a night of sex -- set up by his pal Anthony Edwards. Of course, love conquers all.

Zuniga recently spoke about this enduring romantic favorite via phone from her Los Angeles home. Raised in the Bay Area during the 60s and 70s, she calls herself a "freaky Berkeley girl." Her mother walked around half-nude all the time, and Zuniga and her sister rarely wore anything but bathing suits. (Her mother is now a Unitarian minister.)

"From out of that environment, I kind of reacted the opposite," she says. "I was cast as an anal preppie; and I was always cast like that."

Indeed, Zuniga played similar roles for the rest of the decade, in Spaceballs, The Fly II and Gross Anatomy -- but a mid-90s recurring part on TV's "Melrose Place" redeemed her.

Though she was four years older than co-star Cusack, she got along well with him and even confesses to a little crush on him. "He was very improvisational. He would see a scene on the page and say, 'how can we mess with this?' And I would see the scene and say, 'this is what I say.'"

She learned, however, that raw enthusiasm sometimes works better on the screen than perfect professionalism. "Don't be afraid of the mistakes," she says. "Rob used that freshness, that inexperience, that newness. That real energy pops off the screen and hooks into people."

It does, and the movie still plays beautifully today. The DVD comes with a Rob Reiner commentary track, and several making-of documentaries.