Written by / 6/21/2012 / No comments / , , , , , , ,

BAGFUL OF JOHN CUSACK W/ 'HOT PURSUT' & 'THE SURE THING'

year: 1987 cast: John Cusack, Robert Loggia, Keith David, Ben Stiller, Wendy Gazelle rating: ***
The moral of this comic adventure could be: If you’re stuck with riff raff, stick with 'em. Twice the main character strays from helpful underdogs and winds up in deeper trouble. But none of the danger lasts very long... although there’s a whole lotta tension for John Cusack’s Dan Bartlett, a frazzled college student who’s supposed to travel to the Caribbean with his rich girlfriend’s family before failing an important chemistry test.

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Cusack, fresh from feel-good classics like BETTER OFF DEAD, ONE CRAZY SUMMER and THE SURE THING, strays from his usual ever-likable persona as a jerk with a chip on his shoulder and has little patience for his girlfriend – or anyone else for that matter. But after getting a reprieve from his professor, he rushes to join his girl at the airport – and just misses her. He travels to the Caribbean and reluctantly teams up with a group of Rastafarians (including Keith David) and eventually boards the dilapidated vessel of endearing modern day pirate Robert Loggia (like tourist John Candy with modern pretentious pirate Rip Torn in SUMMER RENTAL).

Dan’s always a step away from reaching his seemingly impossible goal and in one overlong scene, where he and Loggia weather a formidable storm, the film turns from brat pack to Jack London...

Directed by TRON creator Steve Lisberger with music that sounds like a tropical version of the techo Tangerine Dream score from RISKY BUSINESS, this isn’t a very funny picture but will keep your interest: There’s something new around every turn and once the villains are revealed – a father/son teaming of Jerry and the not-yet-famous Ben Stiller who kidnapped Dan’s future in-laws aboard a yacht – our shaggy hero morphs into the Cusack we know and love, becoming someone to actually root for.
title: THE SURE THING year: 1985 cast: John Cusack, Daphne Zuniga rating: ****
Side-characters played by Tim Robbins, Anthony Edwards, Boyd Gains, and Lisa Jane Persky are so overly one-dimensional, the two leads, John Cusack and Daphne Zuniga, seem even more real.

Though it's a road film: polar opposites Cusack, as an endearing goof, and Zuniga, an uptight hidden beauty, journey cross country to Southern California... Cusack to meet a gorgeous blonde (the sure thing) and Zuniga to see her stuffy fiancee... the first half hour, taking place at the East Coast college, is where we really get to know their personalities before the trek begins: which, once underway, goes from one funny misadventure to the next, leading to a purposefully predictable turnout: boy and girl fall in love... till they reach their destination.

Director Rob Reiner keeps things rolling in this comfortably adventurous "rom-com" with creatively lustful reverie sequences thrown in for good measure.
title: BEING JOHN MALKOVICH year: 1999 cast: John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, rating: **1/2
While this film remains creatively weird the whole way through, it's only the first half that works effectively. John Cusack, as an unsuccessful puppeteer hired to work on floor 7 1/2 of a mysterious building where the ceilings are very low, discovers a portal leading to the brain of John Malkovich, allowing anyone who enters a fifteen minute tour through the actor's eyes.

It's when Cusack, in lust with his fellow employee and married to a sweet-natured scientist, becoming pawn of a love triangle in which Malkovich's body is a sexual vessel, that the intriguing mind-trip becomes a bit too convoluted.Yet it is all very unique... And the casting of Charlie Sheen as Malkovich's buddy/voice of reason would be become more ironic a decade later.
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