Grosse Pointe Blank (1997) Poster


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Features appearances by most of the acting members of the Cusack family: John Cusack, Joan Cusack, Ann Cusack and Bill Cusack. Only their father, Dick Cusack, is absent.
Jenna Elfman wearing a body brace at the dance is a tribute to Joan Cusack in Sixteen Candles (1984).
Martin's invitation to his high school reunion, which is tucked into the mirror as he gets ready, requires attendees to Dress to Kill.
George Armitage originally planned to shoot the high school scenes at Grosse Pointe South High, but was unable to get permission from the school board. They felt that it would be inappropriate to show someone graduating from Grosse Pointe's school system to become a hit man.
The goon stalking Martin Blank is 'Benny "The Jet" Urquidez', a world-champion kickboxer who was also John Cusack's kickboxing instructor.
The arcade game that the Ultimart employee is playing during the shootout is the aptly titled classic Doom II. The game was never actually available in a commercial arcade cabinet and must have been constructed specially for the film.
One of John Cusack's favourite films of his own.
When Martin first goes round to Debi's house she says, "You can't come in," in a Jamaican accent. This is a reference to the song which is playing in the background - "You're Wondering Now" by The Specials, which starts off with a knock at the door followed by one of the band saying the same thing in the same (albeit more authentic) accent.
According to Joan Cusack, War, Inc. (2008). is an informal sequel. Both films are similar in style and theme, and both films star John Cusack as an assassin and his sister Joan as his assistant, with Dan Aykroyd in a supporting role.
John Cusack saw the film as a metaphor for the Reagan/Bush years. "I grew up fascinated by people in the Reagan administration, their ethics, their mercenary values," he said in an interview. "People who plan wars and then go home to their wives and their kids ... How do they live? To me, Grosse Pointe Blank was a metaphor for the people in the Bush White House." Elsewhere, he described the movie as "a black comedy about the American Dream, that 'win at all costs' personality you see every day ... A tongue-in-cheek look at the American value system."
There are several Bond movie references, including the attempted poisoning by string (You Only Live Twice (1967)), and the Guns N' Roses version of the theme from Live and Let Die (1973) which Martin listens to just before enters the Ultimart for the first time (when he enters the Ultimart it changes to a Muzak version of Live and Let Die that picks up exactly where G&R left off). There are also references to Goldfinger (1964)
Quentin Tarantino was a fan of George Armitage's work and somehow came to be personally acquainted with him. While filming the Ultimart shootout, Armitage added a nod to Tarantino with his help. "I called him and said, 'Could I use your lobby card of the Pulp Fiction (1994) cast?' Armitage recalled. "So we wired that with squibs and shot it up too." He said Tarantino wanted to make a cameo-"he wanted to be shot or blown up or something"-but it never materialized.
According to George Armitage, he "basically shot three movies simultaneously": one that stuck to the script, one that was "mildly understated," and one that went "completely over-the-top" in terms of improvisation and energy. It was usually the third version that got used, which means there are alternate versions of nearly every scene still out there somewhere. (So far, the film's DVD and Blu-ray releases haven't had any of them.)
In one version of the scene where Martin walks into Debi's radio booth for the first time, Minnie Driver decided to let her character put all the cards on the table and just kiss John Cusack. George Armitage said, "It was just wonderful, completely out of the blue. You should have seen the smile on Johnny's face afterwards."
Feature film debut of Jenna Elfman.
The only shot of Grosse Pointe is the aerial shot of the road next to the lake (Lakeshore Drive) with Grosse Pointe South High School's bell tower visible in the background, the only actual shot of the school.
When talking to the prospective home-buyers, Martin says he has always felt "kind of temporary" about himself. This is the same thing Willy Loman says he feels when talking to Ben in "Death of a Salesman."
Screenwriter Tom Jankiewicz wrote the initial script for Grosse Pointe Blank in 1991 after receiving an invitation to his 10th high school reunion. He picked the title while substitute teaching for an English class at Upland High School, writing the title on the classroom's whiteboard to see how it would look on a movie-theater marquee. Jankiewicz decided to use Grosse Pointe, an upscale suburb of Detroit, Michigan, rather than his working-class hometown of Sterling Heights due to the contrast between the two towns.
When Debi tells Martin in her bedroom that he's a "...psycho," she can be seen moving her hand as though talking. In an interview, John Cusack said that this was an ad-lib, as Minnie Driver had seen John and Joan Cusack doing something similar with each other on the set, off-camera.
When Marcella tells Martin about the offer in French about taking out a Greenpeace boat, it's a reference to the 1985 sabotage of the Greenpeace yacht 'Rainbow Warrior' in New Zealand by two French Secret Service agents. The yacht was to lead a fleet to protest French nuclear tests in the Pacific before it was destroyed by the French agents. One Greenpeace photographer died aboard the ship during the sabotage mission.
The camera that Martin uses at the reunion is a Minox; a miniature camera popular with cold war spies.
Tom Jankiewicz, who was raised in Sterling Heights, Michigan, based many of the film's characters on his real-life friends from Bishop Foley Catholic High School in Madison Heights, Michigan. For example, Paul Spericki, was originally named after Jankiewicz's best friend during high school, though the name was changed during filming. It was rumored that the film's script was based on an actual high school student from Jankiewicz's past who became a professional hit man, which is untrue. Marcella was named for Jankiewicz's manager at Big Lots.
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The high school shown in the movie is actually John Marshall High School, Los Angeles, CA.
When Martin is trying to protect Debbie's father, Grocer can be heard downstairs reciting a passage from the Bible. It is from Revelation 13, "And they gave worship to the dragon, because he gave authority to the beast; and worshiping the beast, they said, Who is like the beast? and who is able to go to make war with him?"
Benny Urquidez's character's name, Felix La PuBelle, is pronounced the same way as "poubelle," which is the French word for garbage can.
In the hallway during the fight scene with Felix a banner can be seen which reads 'The Future Is Unwritten'. This is a quote from Joe Strummer and also appears on the cover of The Clash's single 'Know Your Rights'.
This is the final film role to date of actress Barbara Harris, who has since retired from making movies.
In the scene in the Ultimart, during the shootout, the head of Bruce Willis gets shot off of a stand-up cardboard cutout of Pulp Fiction (1994). Prior to the production of this film, Co-Producer/Screenwriter, John Cusack had been quoted as saying that Bruce Willis is "a lucky truck driver".
Just after Martin has put on his neck tie to go to the reunion there is a poster on the wall for The Clash's "Out Of Control" tour. The score is credited to Joe Strummer.
Marcella can be seen on the phone speaking to "Amelia". Amelia is Minnie Driver's real first name.
The location, 'Ultimart' appeared before as 'Buds', in Lethal Weapon 3 (1992). Also the Martin/Grocer battle features action suggested by Sgt.Riggs in the same movie.
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The film cast includes one Oscar winner: Alan Arkin and four Oscar nominees: Minnie Driver, Barbara Harris and Dan Aykroyd and Joan Cusack.
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Blank's line "meet the new boss" in the diner breakfast scene is taken from The Who song "Won't Get Fooled Again". John Cusack is a big fan of The Who.
Alan Arkin and John Cusack would later appear in America's Sweethearts (2001). In both films, Arkin plays a mentor to Cusack's character. Hank Azaria also appears in both films.
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When Martin meets Debi at the Hippo Lounge, they are joined by Amy, who is tipsy and married. When Martin goes to order the ladies drinks, Audrey orders first, and Debi responds "I'll have what she's having." That reprises the line Rob Reiner's mother delivers in the deli in When Harry Met Sally... (1989), and reflects Debi's frustration that she doesn't have the life Audrey has, married to her high school boyfriend.
Dan Aykroyd quotes from the book of Revelation during the final shootout. He has a similar diatribe in Ghostbusters (1984).
Though several production companies liked the concept, it took a while for Tom Jankiewicz to sell his script. Kiefer Sutherland wanted to make it (this would have been around 1992 or 1993), but, in the words of one columnist, "the mix of comedy and violence proved to be a tough sell."
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Ironically, John Cusack and Jeremy Piven were high school friends much like the movie's story line.
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Both Jenna Elfman and Mitchell Ryan would later go on to work together in Dharma & Greg (1997).
Early in the movie, Debi asks her radio audience, "Where are all the good men dead, in the heart or in the head?"

This is a modern restructuring from Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice" which reads: Tell me where is fancy bred, Or in the heart or in the head? How begot, how nourished? Reply, reply. It is engender'd in the eyes, With gazing fed; and fancy dies In the cradle, where it lies. Let us all ring fancy's knell; I'll begin it - Ding, dong, bell.

Ding, dong, bell
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During the scene where Jeremy Piven first sees Martin, he brings Cusack over to his BMW. His BMW is parked in front of a red zone, even though his car is the only one that is on the curb and there are plenty of legal spaces for him to park.
Martin Blank's company name is Pacific Trident Global. When he enters the Ultimart and goes to the gum section, he grabs a pack of "Trident".
Debi says her apartment burned down on Devil's Night. This refers to the night before Halloween where traditionally, particularly in Detroit, there is a large spike in vandalism and arson fires.
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John Cusack and Jeremy Piven co-star in 2001's Serendipity as best friends.
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In the opening scenes of Detroit the Great Lakes freighter on the Detroit River near the Ambassador bridge is the S/S Elton Hoyt 2nd.
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The Brand and Flavor of gum that Martin takes while being attacked at the Ultimart is Trident, Original flavor.


The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Body Count: 14.
When Martin Blank goes back to his home town for his high school reunion, he only answers the question "What do you do?" honestly three times; to his best friend, his ex-girlfriend, and her father, who all assumed he was joking. All the of them end up finding out, through real-life circumstances, that this is true.
In this movie John Cusack is part of the class of 1986. He would later go on to star in Hot Tub Time Machine who time travels back to 1986
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