March 25, 1985 12:00 PM

Just when you think this is another run-of-the-corridor college comedy, along comes a sharp-tongued, lovable young actor, John (Class) Cusack, to splash ice water on your weary eyes. An amiable product of the Bill Murray/Tom Hanks school of situational lunacy, Cusack has the chance to work out a cozy spot for himself, even in the current overpopulated world of young male stars. As a fun-loving Ivy League freshman who falls in love with bookworm cum laude Daphne (Vision Quest) Zuniga, Cusack glides along serving up one-liners. He makes a play for a girl, for instance, with the promise of “a sexual encounter so intense it could conceivably change your political views.” He feigns insanity to confuse a lecherous good old boy intent on having his way with Zuniga. He tenderly talks about wanting to have a son named Nick (“The kind of guy who doesn’t mind if you puke in his car”). Throughout, Cusack has the presence and timing to pull off the strangest of deadpans with panache. Otherwise, director Rob Reiner, who takes a questionable 180-degree turn from the originality of his brilliant 1984 satire, This Is Spinal Tap, does a pedestrian job with the standard tale of the mismatched pair who inevitably get together. The bright spot: Zuniga has a spirited charm to match her soulful face. Viveca (TV’s Playing for Time) Lindfors, as a hip English professor, and Lisa Jane Persky and Tim Robbins, as nerds who pass time on a cross-country auto trip with bad renditions of every known show tune, offer a little support. The sound track is solid, with original music by Tom Scott. Overall, the film lapses too often into the predictability endemic to the genre, but anyone stricken with an irresistible urge to see another movie about teenage tribulations could choose worse. (PG-13)

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