Martin Blank is a professional assassin. He is sent on a mission to a small Detroit suburb, Grosse Pointe, and, by coincidence, his ten-year high school reunion party is taking place there at the same time.
Thirty-something Rob Gordon, a former club DJ, owns a not so lucrative used record store in Chicago. He not so much employs Barry and Dick, but rather keeps them around as they showed up at the store one day and never left. All three are vinyl and music snobs, but in different ways. Rob has a penchant for compiling top five lists. The latest of these lists is his top five break-ups, it spurred by the fact that his latest girlfriend, Laura, a lawyer, has just broken up with him. He believed that Laura would be the one who would last, partly as an expectation of where he would be at this stage in his life. Rob admits that there have been a few incidents in their relationship which in and of themselves could be grounds for her to want to break up. To his satisfaction, Laura is not on this top five list. Rob feels a need not only to review the five relationships, which go back as far as middle school when he was twelve, and try to come to terms with why the woman, or girl as the case may ...
When Rob talks with Liz after Laura's father's funeral, a Danish flag and pictures from Denmark are visible on the mantelpiece just behind the actors. Iben Hjejle is Danish. See more »
When Rob comes home, he starts playing Bruce Springsteen's "The River" (the song) on an LP, which is the first cut on the LP he is playing. However, The River has never been the first cut of any issued LP. See more »
What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?
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The main end credits are printed on music-type flyers posted on poles and walls. See more »
In the version premiered on Comedy Central in 2003, there are numerous dialogue changes due to adult language, but several of these can be clearly identified as alternate takes rather than overdubs:
1. When Rob talks about Deep Purple and his autobiographical record collection, Dick simply says "no way."
2. Rob says "is that Peter Frampton? Why?" instead of "is that Peter f'ing Frampton?" just before he enters the lounge.
3. Rob says "it made me feel like less of a... whoever the hell Laura thinks I am" during the phone call to Liz.
4. Rob shouts to himself "who... is Ian!?" and rips posters off the wall after he talks to Liz.
5. When Liz comes into the store, she says "hey Rob... you selfish jerk!"
6. In the bar, Rob says (due to a mis-edit) "but really good" twice (once in a medium shot and again in the close-up) and asks "how come suddenly I'm the world's biggest jerk?"
7. At dinner with Rob, Penny calls the guy she slept with a "dirtbag" and tells Rob to "go to Hell."
8. The whole scene where Rob gets Charlie's answering machine is a different take, again without language.
9. The shoplifting scene has a differently paced take when Rob says "how much is this deck worth to you and how much did you steal? Can you do the math?"
10. Charlie says "no, I can't believe you, Rob. I knew it. You are," in an alternate take when she sits down after the dinner party scene, instead of repeatedly cursing.
11. Barry's "top five songs about death" is a different take and even has Rob adding "Not Dark Yet, by Dylan" before he runs off to get the phone.
12. Rob asks "Hey! What the hell is this, huh? What is this?" when he finds Laura's flyer.
13. The scene where Rob offers Barry money not to play at the release party is different.
I read the novel when it first came out because the title intrigued me, and I found it quite good. When I heard John Cusack was adapting it and moving the action to Chicago(from London in the novel), I was a little worried, because I worry about changing things during adaptations for arbitrary reasons, but I needn't have worried; though I have a few quibbles, which we'll get to later, Cusack and Co. have done a fine job adapting the novel.
First off, I've read one comment which claims it stereotypes "music geeks." The type of people Hornby, Cusack, his co-writers(D.V. DeVincentis and Steve Pink, who also co-wrote GROSSE POINT BLANK, and Scott Rosenberg), and director Stephen Frears are portraying is a very particular type of "music geek"; the type who is a snob about music. Almost all of us, I would say, are aggressive about our likes and dislikes when it comes to music, but not many, I agree, compare liking Marvin Gaye and Art Garfunkel to "agreeing with both the Israelis and the Palestinians." And probably not many of us would be so cut off from feelings that, when hearing about a person's death, would find no better way of expressing their sorrow than listing their top 5 songs about death. Yet we do like these people as characters because we see even if they have some snotty attitudes, they do have a genuine love for their music, and they're in a low-paying job because they love what they do. And who among us hasn't turned to music when we've felt sad(or happy), like Rob does, or wished that Bruce Springsteen(and a pox on the person who, in their comments, implied he was passe. Bruce will NEVER be passe) would talk to us directly like he talks to us through his music? The novel and the movie captures all of that.
Another strength, of course, is Cusack's performance. Woody Allen once said that while American actors were very good at playing virile men of action, there weren't many who could play more "normal," regular people. Cusack, on the other hand, has carved out a niche for himself playing regular guys. He doesn't look like The Boy Next Door, and he's neither stereotypically sensitive or hip, but comes across as a guy who feels both at ease and yet still longs for something more. At his best, like in movies such as THE SURE THING, SAY ANYTHING, THE GRIFTERS, BULLETS OVER BROADWAY, GROSSE POINT BLANK, and this, he plays people on the cusp of growing up, who are able to if they want to, but aren't sure if they want to, and yet he's made each of them different. Rob's condition may be a little more conventional - he's not sure if he wants to settle down yet - but Cusack, while unafraid to show his unlikable qualities, makes us like Rob anyway.
The rest of the cast is also quite good. The well-known names only get short takes(Lisa Bonet, Joan Cusack, Tim Robbins, Lili Taylor, Catherine Zeta-Jones), but they make the most of their time. I've never seen Iben Hjejle before(I haven't seen MIFUNE), but she does well as the most grown-up person in the movie. But the real stars, besides Cusack and the music, are Jack Black and Todd Louiso as Rob's co-workers. Black especially reminds me of people I knew.
As I said, I do have some quibbles. There are a couple of incidents in the book which don't make it to the film which I would have liked to see(the Sid James Experience, and the lady who wanted to sell Rob a ton of valuable records for a ridiculously low price). I'm getting tired of movies which use rain as an expression of sorrow, and this is an example of overuse. And the character of Laura isn't developed as well in the movie as she was in the novel. Nevertheless, this is well worth checking out.
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