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The Sure Thing Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 14+

1980s teen-sex comedy that actually has an IQ.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that there is profanity and sex talk in a script that centers on a teenage college freshman's quest for no-strings-attached sex with a fantasy-figure beach girl. Even though our hero finally reconsiders his priorities, his hang-loose lifestyle and heavy drinking are made to look admirable -- and characters who disdain his wild ways seem cartoonishly stiff and dull. College comes across as a hotbed of sexual experimentation,, and, consequently, co-eds not enjoying regular sex must have something seriously wrong with them. Binge-drinking, "mooning," and "flashing" are portrayed as high-spirited fun.

  • Families can talk about the characters and their different values toward life and how to enjoy it. Is Gib believable in his evolution into a deeper, more thoughtful person? What about Alison? Ask young viewers if they know odd-couple couples like these two. Do they think the relationship will endure in the long run? Compare The Sure Thing to similar teen-romance comedies; some fans call this one the very best of the genre. Do you agree? You might also try to get young fans to watch It Happened One Night, the (more innocent) 1934 screwball-comedy road-trip classic considered a forerunner of The Sure Thing.

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: As part of the "opposites attract" formula here, Gib is an irresponsible, hedonistic type and heavy drinker whose ideal of romance is one of unattached, casual sex; meanwhile conservative Alison is haughty and repressed. During the course of the narrative, however, they appreciate each others' differences, to the point that when Gib gets his chance at a "sure thing," he misses Alison instead -- just as she pines for Gib over her stilted and boring boyfriend. Both these young people change for the better and learn mutual respect -- with the questionable proposition that heavy drinking and reckless, rowdy behavior are shown as "growth." Parents as role models and influences are invisible.

What to watch for
  • violence false0

    Violence: A passing threat of hitchhiker molestation-rape that doesn't materialize.

  • sex false3

    Sex: A bare-butt shot of an anonymous male character "mooning" the heroes. Alison responds by taking her top off, but nothing is shown. Much footage of the dream-girl blonde in a revealing string bikini or other skimpy ensembles. There is the sound of two teen characters making loud love and a brief glimpse of them contorted under bedsheets in an unlikely and kinky position. Much talk about sex (in general, non-clinical terms), and a reference to the notorious "letters" column of a popular pornographic magazine. A few homosexual jokes.

  • language false3

    Language: "Shit," "bastard," frequent use of "t-ts."

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: No brand names mentioned, but virtues of beer and junk-food eating are extolled.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Beer and bourbon drinking in profuse amounts, references to marijuana. These are made into positive, empowering indulgences (especially campus beer-binging), and people who abstain from them look drab and colorless.