By Richard Winters
My Rating: 7 out of 10
4-Word Review: Love blossoms between opposites.
Walter Gibson (John Cusack) becomes smitten with Alison (Daphne Zuniga). He is a slacker while she is a very studious student. Both attend the same college English class and he uses the ruse of needing help with his studies as a ploy to get closer to her, but it doesn’t work and she ends up hating him. Then his friend Lance (Anthony Edwards) invites him out to California where he has a really hot girl (Nicollette Sheridan) waiting for him and promises that she is a ‘sure thing’. So Walter takes a ride with a couple (Tim Robbins, Mary Jane Persky) that is also going out there only to find that Alison is riding with them as she wants to visit her boyfriend. Needless to say it is a rocky ride, but after several misadventures love finally begins to blossom between the two.
On a purely romantic level this film scores big time. It nicely recaptures the period in one’s life where everything is still new and exciting and before such things as marital discord, ugly divorces, child custody battles and all that other crap. Instead it emphasizes the rush one feels at being in the presence of someone they are really crazy about and learning to know them through layers. It’s the magical innocence of young love that makes it so endearing and engaging.
Zuniga is beautiful but fortunately not in an overdone, glamorous type of way. My favorite scene with her is when she tries to drink a beer for the first time ‘shotgun style’ and becomes a bit overwhelmed by it. Cusack shows his usual charm, but his social graces seem severely lacking at points near the beginning and I wouldn’t have been surprised if every girl would have found him to be an annoying geek.
In support Edwards is good as his friend and I especially liked his room that is lined with empty bottles of every different brand of beer that he has drunk. Viveca Lindfors is sexy and appealing in her own way as the English teacher and George Memmoli in his last film role has an engaging bit as an overweight man that Walter meets and befriends at a bar in a scene that I wished had been more extended.
The film though does have a few problems. One scene has Walter accusing Alison of being ‘repressed’ and so to prove him wrong she strips off her shirt and bra and then flashes some other cars that they are passing, which to me seemed like too much of an extreme shift in behavior and not realist for that type of character. There is another scene where the two are stranded in the middle of nowhere during a rainstorm and with no money since Alison forgot it at their last hotel stop only to find out that she has a credit card. The film then cuts to showing them eating at a fancy restaurant, which was too much of a jump as a credit card isn’t going to get them from an empty field by itself and the scene needed to show more of a connection on how or who got them out of there.
The biggest problem though is that we have this stunning beautiful, bikini clad blonde in the form of Nicollette Sheridan who apparently can’t get a guy on her own and needs to be ‘set-up’ on a date, which makes no sense. The scenes showing her walking around all alone at a party are absurd because in reality just about every guy in the room would be showing her some attention and she would have no reason to waiting around for an average guy like Cusack to come by to date here. This is the one segment in the movie were it goes dangerously close from being this pleasing slice-of-life romance to a crazy 80’s teen fantasy.
Despite the issues listed above I still thoroughly enjoyed it. It should appeal to the romantic in all of us and nicely balances the old-fashioned love story formula with modern day sensibilities.
My Rating: 7 out of 10
Released: March 1, 1985
Runtime: 1Hour 40Minutes
Director: Rob Reiner
Studio: Embassy Pictures
Available: VHS, DVD, Blu-ray