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The Sure Thing: Special Edition

In retrospect, The Sure Thing's title seems almost prophetic — how could Rob Reiner directing John Cusack in a romantic comedy not succeed? But in 1984, when The Sure Thing was released, the erstwhile Lloyd Dobler's biggest roles had been supporting parts in Class and Sixteen Candles, and Reiner was still five years away from making the instant-classic When Harry Met Sally. Somewhere, the movie gods were smiling, though, because The Sure Thing ended up as a charming, engaging kick-start for both of their resumes. Starring as impulsive, neurotic college freshman Walter "Gib" Gibson, Cusack debuts his now-trademark mix of witty rants and vulnerable intensity, while Daphne Zuniga co-stars as Alison Bradbury, the uptight, precise object of Gib's affection. The unlikely pair ends up stranded together in the middle of nowhere after a simple ride share to Los Angeles for Christmas — he's on his way to score with the titular "sure thing" (Nicollette Sheridan), she's going to see her boring law student boyfriend (Boyd Gaines) — turns into the road trip from hell. (Yup, that's Tim Robbins in the small-but-hilarious part of Gary Cooper, their Ned Flanders-like driver.) Forced to work together to make their way west, Gib and Alison gradually get closer; he teaches her to loosen up, and she shows him that there's more to love than a quick score. It's easy to see echoes of both the classic screwball road comedy It Happened One Night and Reiner's own story about Harry and Sally. Like both of those films, The Sure Thing is more than just a flash in the pan — it may be remembered mostly as an '80s teen flick, but thanks to strong work by Cusack, Reiner, and the rest of the cast and crew, it's "sure" to have a longer life than many of its contemporaries. MGM certainly seems to think so; the studio's two-sided special edition DVD is pretty snazzy, all things considered. Side A offers both widescreen anamorphic (1.85:1) and full-screen versions of the film; both look and sound good, thanks to the clean transfer and the strong 5.1 Dolby Digital audio (other audio options include English and French mono tracks, plus English, French, and Spanish subtitles). Also available on the first side are Reiner's anecdote-filled commentary and a pop-up trivia track — flip the disc over for the rest of the goodies, which include four retrospective featurettes ("The Road to The Sure Thing" is the meatiest), a handful of trailers, and a couple of hidden interview clips. Keep-case.
—Betsy Bozdech

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