I love the movie Better Off Dead. It has everything a movie would need. Humor, action scenes (car racing, skiing, sword (ski pole) fighting), singing burgers, romance, a killer paper boy. I watched this movie again the other day and it still holds up great.
What about "Sure Thing"? It came several months before "Better off Dead". The great Cusack playing his best beer shotgunning horny college student is stuck with a preppy Daphne Zuniga on a cross country car trip from the East Coast to California. He is looking for an easy lay, she is going to see her boyfriend. They end up fighting so much they get kicked out of their carpool and have to hitch hike from the midwest to California. It doesn't have the singing cheeseburger or ski pole fights but it is still fun for a sleepy Saturday.
I think that The Sure Thing is truly underrated. Sweet, humane, and some really funny stuff.
Also has nice small parts from Tim Robbins, and the great Viveca Lindefors as Cusack's teacher. Toward the end of her career (her first picture was in 1940), she was the go-to gal for a unique combination of gravity, authority, wisdom and well-lived sensuality. Check her out at the beginning of Stargate in 1994 - she's the one who recruits James Spader. At 74, she's got more life than just about anyone in the picture....and I LOVE that picture. Bought it on Laserdisk as soon as it came out. :-)
The other thing that I think of with The Sure Thing is that it was Rob Reiner's second feature. His first was Spinal Tap (!!! - not a bad first movie), and then after The Sure Thing you have, in order, Stand By Me (also with John Cusack), The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally, Misery and A Few Good Men.
Things got a little spotty after that, but those particular 7 pictures in 8 years are as good a run, and as VARIED a run, as anyone has had since...when? Ever? I can't think of many people I'd even be able to enter in that race.
I'm not saying he belongs in a pantheon with...take your pick...or that some of these pictures are more "movies" than "films"...but I did a quick check of my favorite "film" directors, and didn't find ANY of them with 7 movies in a row that I liked this much -- much less in 8 years....
Anyway, I obviously have very fond feelings for The Sure Thing and many of the people involved in it. I've always liked it a lot, and have recommended it a bunch of times, but had forgotten just HOW much I like it. Good call, Jake.
PS. Speaking of good, diverse movies in a row, check out this unbroken run from editor Dede Allen
# Reds (1981)
# The Wiz (1978)
# Slap Shot (1977)
# The Missouri Breaks (1976)
# Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
# Night Moves (1975)
# Serpico (1973)
# Visions of Eight (1973) (Milos Forman)
# Slaughterhouse-Five (1972)
# Little Big Man (1970)
# Alice's Restaurant (1969)
# Rachel, Rachel (1968) (directed by Paul Newman!)
# Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
She did some other good stuff too: The Hustler - maybe where she met Newman? - Mike's Murder, and at age 60, The Breakfast Club).
My favorite line in Better Off Dead, which I looked up to make sure I get it right:
"Now that's a real shame when folks be throwin' away a perfectly good white boy like that."
I put Hot Pursuit in my Netflix Que a while back. Something happened and it never came. They sent it to me for free because it took so long. Nothing like a free movie and great customer service. So I finally got to watch it this weekend. Thanks for the recommendation. By the way, Netflix said, if I love Hot Pursuit then I'll love Better of Dead. Have you ever worked at a video rental store?