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I love this film! Starring John Cusack, England's patriotically-named
Driver, plus Dan Ackroyd, Alan Arkin & Joan Cusack, Grosse Pointe Blank'
funny, clever, action-packed & has a great eighties soundtrack.
John Cusack - as the film's protagonist Martin Blank - is superb, & virtually carries the whole movie. He plays an assassin who started out working for the U.S. Government but has now gone freelance, having managed to rationalise his cold-blooded killing. He is an amoral, sharp, ruthless killer, but also vulnerably human, neurotic, conscience-ridden, tender & romantic. Despite these ostensibly impossible personality contradictions, you never once question that his character is real, you can't help but like the guy, & never stop hoping that things work out for him. Pulling this off is a remarkable achievement & Cusack does it brilliantly.
He reluctantly accepts a commission that takes him back to his hometown, Grosse Pointe, coincidentally at exactly the same time as his old High School reunion. While there he visits his childhood sweetheart, local DJ Debi (Driver), for the first time in 10 years when in a fit of madness he had ditched her on their prom night to run off & join the army. As neither she nor anyone else had heard anything from him since then, her feelings about this are understandably rather mixed!
Blank visits his institutionalised Mum & the family home, which to his great distress is now an Ultimart', & eventually convinces Debi to go with him to the reunion. His reacquaintances with his former schoolmates are very funny & even quite touching, & are sure to strike a chord with anyone who's ever been to one of those things.
Meanwhile various other assassins, chief of which is Blank's rival Grocer (Ackroyd brilliant as ever) are out to kill him. Their reasons are many & varied mainly involving an Assassin's union', secret Government operations & a dead dog (yes, really!). As you can probably guess, these are not the sort of things that are conducive to a successful High School reunion, & mayhem ensues.
Grosse Pointe Blank' is extremely funny, full of deadpan, twisted humour - mainly from Cusack, but ably supported by Ackroyd & Arkin. I particularly liked the running gag of Blank's response to the inevitable "what do you do for a living?" question: a completely matter-of-fact "professional killer", which of course not one person takes seriously. I also loved the hilariously neurotic exchanges between Blank & his hounded shrink (Arkin), who ends every conversation with "Don't kill anyone!" There's also a lovely little story involving a pen...
The film is also a great action flick - it has some brilliantly choreographed & executed gunfight & hand-to-hand fight sequences in fact some of the best I've ever seen. Cusack looks, or at least is made to look, like a pretty decent athlete himself. The finale is a real tour-de-force, & for me sums up the movie itself: a great gunfight, clever & hilariously funny.
This film is wonderful from start to finish if you haven't done so already, see it now!
One of the complaints about movies these days, and justifiably so, is that they're predictable. This movie is not predictable, and I never thought I'd be able to say that about a movie with four credited writers. Every time you think you can guess where it's going, it throws a curve. It was also very funny, which is nice because good comedies are becoming a rare species. John Cusack continues to show what a great actor he is as hitman Martin Blank. He doesn't wink at the audience, saying, Oh look, I'm a hitman, but plays him as normal, with the right amount of misgivings and tenacity. Minnie Driver is quite good as the woman he's still obsessed with (although she was good in GOOD WILL HUNTING, she should have been nominated for this performance), and Alan Arkin and Jeremy Piven were good, as ever, in support. The surprise, however, is Dan Aykroyd. Just when I was prepared to write him off forever, he comes through with a great performance here. The soundtrack is terrific too, avoiding the cliched 80's songs to provide a fresh, and compatible, score.
Good movie. Particularly the part where John Cusack is using the frying pan
to put his point across to the bad guy on the kitchen floor. It's hard not
to belly laugh. I thought it took cues from 'Blue Velvet', with its uncommon
blend of humour and ultra-violence.
I read that parts of the dialogue were contributed by Cusack and a couple of [real-life] school friends, though cannot confirm this. It's believeable though - for example when he meets the legal guy propping up the bar at the re-union. His offering of the pen, the aside that Cusack should 'read the cap' and asking to use the funny quip - 'they all seem kinda related' - must have been based on a real person. Too sad to be fiction.
Minnie [cab] Driver, Joan Cusack and Dan Ackroyd personalise their performances very well. The support cast were excellent too. The music was an oddly enjoyable mix and the fight sequence with the pen was the most realistic (and exhausting) I'd seen. It was the attention to small detail which swung it in the end though. Cusack's buddy's coke-fuelled, paranoid banter was spot on ("Jenny Slater, Jenny Slater") as was the burning the fingers on the furnace, to name just two random details. The effect of this, is that they all add up to a movie which you can enjoy watching many times. And that makes it a rare gem.
Although not nearly as popular as it deserves to be, GROSS POINTE BLANK has become an increasingly respected cult flick in the year following its theatrical release and it's not hard to see why. The movie is probably the only film on earth that is able to blend comedy, graphic violence, and romance together perfectly, which is what makes it such a classic. John Cusack is excellent as Martin Q. Blank, a hit-man who attends his ten-year high school reunion. At first he doesn't want to, but decides to go since he has a case there and he wants to see his old girlfriend Debbie (Minnie Driver) again. This dark comedy is heavy on exciting action, suspense, gunfire, laughs, and fun, but it doesn't have not quite enough character development for my taste (a bit more on how Martin became accustomed to killing would have been nice). Still, GROSSE POINTE BLANK was one of the best films of 1997 and one of the better comedies of the 1990s. There were rumors of a sequel happening for a while, though the chances of that happening are slim to none. Too bad.
Some movies have a good story that is made great by the casting. This
is one such film. It has a cast to die for and makes what could have
been an interesting film superb.
John and Joan Cusack play great characters along with Minnie Driver in a film about a hit man returning to his home town for a high school reunion. he reconnects with a lost love while competitors are trying to rub him out.
There is an assortment of characters in the film: Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine) as Dr. Oatman; Dan Akroyd as Blank's main competitor; Hank Azaria, K. Todd Freeman and Jeremy Piven.
This film has enough laughs amid the shooting and romance to satisfy anyone.
I love this movie. Grosse Pointe Blank is smart and witty and has a
stunning 1980s soundtrack. Martin Blank (Cusack) is an angst ridden
international hit-man who has stopped enjoying his work. He searches
for meaning in his life and returns to Grosse Pointe, Michigan for his
10th year High School reunion and one last job. Blank meets his mom,
some old friends and discovers that his childhood home has been knocked
down to make way for a convenience store. He ponders his life choices
and has recurring dreams about Debi Newberry (Driver) the girl he stood
up on Prom night.
Blank's activities have attracted a collection of hit men trying to find an excuse to kill him. These include Aykroyd, two federal agents and a freelance Basque hit-man. There is a shoot-out at the end and overall the film has a large body count, but Cusack makes Blank seem like a lovable version of Jason Bourne. The film is something of an ensemble piece with great comic performances from Alan Arkin, Joan Cusack, Jeremy Piven and Aykroyd. The film pokes fun at the loner tough guy hero featured in so many Hollywood movies. At the time of its release the story was a little unusual but Mr and Mrs Smith has since explored similar territory of rich cosmopolitan assassins trying to blend into ordinary American life.
Blank spends most of the movie in pursuit of Debi. Will she forgive him? Will he have time to complete his assignment? This is my idea of a great movie. It's funny and clever and the characters are flawed but likable.
About the same time as this film was made there was a spate of hitman
focused comedy dramas (from Leon to Coldblooded) so this risked being viewed
in the same way as these. This is strictly a comedy - there's no deep soul
searching here, the analyst is also in it for comedy value.
The story is funny and lively, the soundtrack reminded us that not all 80's music was rubbish and the whole feel of the film is one that it must have been fun to make. John Cusack is excellent as the hitman, he just seems to bring the character to life and play him in a jokey way without making fun of the film, Dan Akroyd gets the best role he's had in years as the hitman trying to get Cusack to join his union, while Minnie Driver is girly and fun - the whole cast are excellent in fact!
The film is not a classic by any means and many see it as a down side that it ignores any serious issues or that the film is set so far away from reality but for me this is part of the fun. Sit down, don't take it seriously and just enjoy the ride!
I've keeping my run of John Cusack movies with each trip to the
library. Not that I'm on the lookout for his old movies deliberately,
it just happens. Not that I'm complaining, but he's always been one of
the few who play characters so diverse, it's almost impossible to
stereotype him. He's fast becoming one of my favorite actors, besides
Morgan Freeman, and Denzel Washington, amongst others.
School reunions are one of those social events that you either love, or loathe. If you're a somebody back then, and are sort of somebody right now, it presents to you an opportunity to brag about it. If you're cruising along fine, then you're probably curious about how others are doing, and want to take stock. If you're a nobody then, or now, then you'll probably not want to attend at all.
John Cusack plays Martin Blank, a professional hit-man whose at the crossroads of that decision. 10 years ago, he abandoned his date for the prom, and never made contact ever since. Also, he's wondering how he could possibly tell anyone about his current profession. He's also finding that life is becoming meaningless, and is seeking for something to lift him up from the doldrums.
His secretary (played by real life sister Joan Cusack - there are a total of 4 Cusack siblings in this movie) arranges a perfect opportunity for him to mesh work and play, and packs him off back to Grosse Pointe. Naturally he seeks out his old flame Debi Newberry (Minnie Driver), and tries his best to make amends by offering to go to the reunion with her.
However, his nemesis and hit-man rival Grocer, played to hilarity by Dan Ackroyd, is mad at Blank for not wanting to join up in his union, and he wants to bump Blank off. He's provided with some of the best dialog, and banters with Cusack so well, you just beg for more of their scenes together.
It's a quirky movie (aren't most of Cusack's movies) which is thoroughly enjoyable with its excellent selection of songs, wonderful dialog, and delightful action toward the end. Watch out too for a short appearance by Jenna Elfman! The Code 1 DVD is nothing to shout about - the bare bones version.
Sometimes one bad apple ruins the whole thing. One drop of taint makes
the best things in life go bad. An this movie was full of potential
taint. It could have been Minnie Driver (the weak point of "Good Will
Hunting"). It could have been Dan Ackroyd (whose comedic routines can
go from great in "Ghostbusters" to stupid in "Coneheads"). Or maybe it
could even have been the fact the writers and director really have no
prior experience in making a big film. But the potential taint never
happened and this film came out almost flawless.
Minnie Driver was given such a small role that her poor acting and unbelievable character (which, I guess isn't her fault) could be overlooked and placed in the margin. Not her worst performance, but not her best (which might be "Beautiful").
Dan Ackroyd was superb, actually presenting us one of the funnier yet darker villains in cinematic history. His delivery of Bible verses while shooting willy-nilly through a target's house? Diabolical! The directing was respectable and the writing was spot-on. Some great dialog between the characters and the story could not be beat. Seriously.
The Cusacks? Oh my! John Cusack is a winner in everything he's ever done (besides maybe "One Crazy Summer"). This movie is one of his best, almost as memorable as "Say Anything" (though that one is flatly unbeatable). Joan Cusack was also pretty cool as a receptionist and her rapport with John is clear and shines in the film. I'm not buying a phone from her, though. And John's sparring with his kickboxing instructor? Those lessons have paid off! Jeremy Piven? Stupendous, as good if not better than his "Chasing Liberty" role. Having starred in 10 films with John Cusack, this is probably their best together.
There are so many more praises I could heap on this movie, but I shouldn't have to. If you want to see a funny, quirky and well-crafted tale about a professional hit-man and a high school reunion, this is your film of choice. You might rent "Michelle and Romy", but not only will you not get the hit men, but you'll get a piece of dog doo, as well. So choose wisely.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Directed by George Armitage, "Grosse Pointe Blank" stars John Cusack as
Martin Blank, a neurotic hit-man who has spent the last ten years of
his life stuck in an existential rut. As such, Blank spends most his
time contemplating the meaning of life, reading magazines titled
"making sense of creation" and brooding about the perceived pointless
of all existence. If life has no worth, Blank muses, then why not
profit from killing?
In true Woody Allen fashion, Blank discusses all these issues with his psychiatrist (played brilliantly by Allan Arkin). He's searching for some meaning, anything to fill a certain existential void, an emotional roller-coaster which Cusack has made a career out of conveying. Indeed, Cusack made a name for himself in the 1980s playing wisecracking teenagers who struggle with adulthood, are contemptuous of others and posses an inner wisdom. You might say "Blank" takes these characters and pushes them toward sociopathy.
Cusack has always been cool, but here he oozes ultra-cool, ever body motion, mannerism and gesture fine-tuned. The film offers an endless stream of witty dialogue, numerous neat, subtle touches (Blank is very picky about where he sits), a killer soundtrack and a hilarious subplot featuring Dan Aykroyd as a fast-talking, overweight hit-man. Aykroyd's attempting to set up a hit-man trade union ("Solidarity!"), but Blank's not interested in joining. The duo share a priceless scene in a café, both men with weapons hidden under a table.
Bizarrely, "Grosse Pointe" marries at least six genres. It's a high-school reunion movie, an assassin flick, a return-to-small-town movie, a romantic comedy, action film and 1980s teen nostalgia flick. Armitage handles the tropes of all these genres well, but outdoes himself with the film's many action sequences. They're surprisingly well choreographed, particularly an intense fist-fight with famed martial artist Benny Urquidez.
Much of the film plays like a 1980s, teen flick. Here Minnie Driver's the object of Blank's affection, she playing the girl Blank abandoned 10 years earlier at a high school dance. Blank's attempting to reconnect with her as a means of escaping what is essentially a stasis borne of nihilism and apathy, a fact which gives the film's eighties nostalgia some touching subtext. Blank wants to mend his childhood, to start over, but the universe won't let him. In the end, it's Driver who embraces Blank's philosophy, though Blank changes a little too. In one scene, holding a baby whilst Queen waffles on the soundtrack ("...dares you to change your way of caring...."), Blank learns something about the fragility and preciousness of life. Seconds later he kills a guy and dumps the body in a furnace. Baby steps.
The film's romantic climax is rushed and unconvincing, and Minnie Driver irks with the facial bone structure of a caveman. Still, "Grosse Pointe" is some kind of classic, and in a way continues the evolution of the hit-man genre (from Yojimbo to Le Samourai to The Professional (1980) to Nikita to Leon to Ghost Dog to Grosse Pointe Blank). Here, Cusack acts as a sort of deconstruction of the Hit-man. No longer is he an angel of death (Melville's film), or a mentally damaged human, but a totally self-aware, thoroughly postmodern, neurotic wreck. The film completely autopsies the genre, which will probably lead to a lot of noble, somber, "stable" and "righteous" hit-man movies in the future. Every genre's eventually reset.
9/10 Cult classic. See "High Fidelity" and "Pump Up The Volume".
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