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Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)

July 13, 2010

8/10 Blisters in the Sun

An awesome premise most awesomely executed.

Grosse Pointe Blank is about a lone gun assassin who, after completely dropping off the face of the Earth in order to pursue a life of contract killing, goes back home for his 10-year High School reunion in the hopes of re-kindling a relationship with the girl he stood up on Prom night back in the day and to pull off one last job without getting bumped off himself.

It’s like a mix between Analyze This, Desperado, and Romy and Michelle, it’s got something for the ladies, something for the fellas, and like I said, it is awesome.

So it’s directed by one George Armitage, and I don’t know why he quit the game after his next effort, The Big Bounce, because he is totally on point here. Sure, I heard that one sucked, but whatever, everyone deserves a mulligan once in a while. But a lot of why this all works without being grim as all hell – aside from it’s great script and cast – is the way Armitage goes about showcasing John Cusack’s given profession.

The kickass action scenes in particular are where this quality of his really shines. It all starts out with Cusack planting a sniper round into a guy’s chest to the tune of “I Can See Clearly Now” by Johnny Nash and then keeps it going with a convenience store shootout set to Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades” and a hitman-on-hitman fist fight with The English Beat’s “Mirror in the Bathroom” playing throughout (love that band). I don’t know, maybe it’s just because this soundtrack is fucking phenomenal, but it’s a pretty boss action movie in its own right that has a great morbid sense of humor backing it up.

Alright, back to the script. This sucker is sharp, whether it’s a backhanded complimentary conversation between John Cusack and his old teacher or him brilliantly confessing his love to Minnie Driver while taking down a veritable SWAT team of trained assassins, it has a blast playing around with the hangups that come with the killing people with a living while trying to go straight and win back the love of your life at the same time. Incredibly witty, totally original, surprisingly relatable and endlessly fun. Simple as that.

And then there’s the cast, and wouldn’t ya’ know, even Minnie Driver’s not that bad.

But let’s start with John Cusack as our deather dealer at a moral crossroads, Martin Blank. I like John Cusack, but I don’t think I’m overstepping my bounds when I say that the guy can sometimes feel like a one-trick pony. He’s got the moody, reflective single guy shtick down pat and it’s done him good for quite a while not. But along with his turn in The Grifters, John’s actually a swell little fit for Martin. Never struck me as the Jason Bourne-type, but his nervous, suave and funny take on the character is spot-on and he got me wrapped up in Martin Blank right from the get-go.

Helping him out is a surprisingly good Dan Aykroyd as Blank’s rival, Grocer, which is surprising if only because I don’t think Aykroyd’s done anything worth noting since Trading Places and I never really took him for the killing type either. Alan Arkin also has some great moments as Blank’s shrink, Dr. Oatman, even if he’s just playing Alan Arkin like he always does. And since it’s a law that she has to be in every movie her brother’s in (not that I’m complaining or anything), Joan Cusack is great as his secretary, Marcella. And as for Minnie Driver as Blank’s main squeeze, Debi, she’s fine and a lot of that is probably due to her only being allowed to laugh once the entire time.

Woman really has an awful, awful laugh.

Folks, I’m not gonna lie, Grosse Pointe Blank is kinda the bomb. Fun from start to finish, really well done on every front and I was pretty damn close to giving it a 9. Only hangup has to do with the scenes between Cusack and Driver that more often than not just drags things along rather than keeps them moving. On the other hand, something tells my I’ll be singing a different tune about this complaint in subsequent viewings.

Even though it’s old hat by now, the whole professional killer-and-his-psychiatrist shtick will always be interesting and the High School reunion aspect is a great added, original twist that sets it apart amongst many other reasons. As so wonderfully stated by Joan Cusack after her boss asks, “Why are you so interested in me going to my High School reunion?” to which she replies, “I just find it amusing that you came from somewhere.” Being that I don’t know a whole lot about being someone who gets paid to kill people (and I’m hoping you’re all on the same page with me on that one), it’s a rip to see a movie that proves how amusing it actually is.

24 Comments leave one →
  1. July 13, 2010 4:45 am

    Man, I got a pretty hard time for not liking this and giving it a 4/10 a while back. Definitely one of those films that I don’t understand why it’s got such a cult following, to me, it just felt like they squeezed a 90 minute film out of one pun! Sure, it’s OK, but it just didn’t make me laugh or care enough to get a decent score. IMHO War Inc. (‘Spiritual Sequal’ to this) was a much better, and funnier, film – so it’s probably worth checking out.

    And how can you say that Minnie Driver was good in this!?!?!?! 😛

    • July 15, 2010 8:47 am

      hahaha, something tells me we’re not gonna see eye to eye on this no matter what I say. will check out War, Inc. though.

  2. July 13, 2010 5:36 am

    Such a fun movie. I think this was my introduction to Cusack’s post-teen film work (it was either this or Con Air). I love Dan Aykroyd in Grosse Point too. Take out Minnie Driver and you’d have an all time classic!

    • July 15, 2010 8:48 am

      hahaha. oh, minnie. you just made me want to see con air STAT. haven’t seen that one in ages, high time that got changed.

  3. Ryan permalink
    July 13, 2010 9:42 am

    I agree, this movie is the bomb. It has an awesome soundtrack, really funny scenes, and the action is surprisingly badass.

  4. July 13, 2010 12:56 pm

    A real fun movie. Loved it.

  5. July 13, 2010 3:20 pm

    And don’t forget Jeremy Piven.



    • July 14, 2010 11:37 am

      hahaha. good cameo on his part, pre-human thermometer fiasco.

  6. nothatwasacompliment permalink
    July 13, 2010 4:00 pm

    hmm, some of my favorite scenes are between cusack and driver. like at the radio station and then later when he goes over to her house. but then i don’t have anything against minnie driver, as it seems most people do. she’s even kinda cute in this. i love how she delivers the lines “ya cannit come in” and “you’re a f***ing psy-choooo”.

    • July 14, 2010 11:36 am

      I’ll give it to ya’ on the radio station conversation, that was a pretty sweet scene. But idk, the gal just rubs me the wrong way, can’t seem to put my finger on it.

  7. July 13, 2010 5:34 pm

    I gotta check this one out. I like Minnie a lot and she’s hugely underrated.

    • July 14, 2010 11:34 am

      Not a huge fan of hers myself, but she ain’t bad here, which probably translates into “GREAT!” for Minnie fans. Awesome movie either way.

  8. July 13, 2010 7:24 pm

    Yes! Grosse Pointe Blank is a bomb little movie.

    Side note: I ate lunch in Grosse Pointe today, as I live about 15 mins away, wouldn’t ya know.

    • July 14, 2010 11:33 am

      Awesome! Good eats over there? Might just have to make a detour to Detroit in that case.

  9. July 14, 2010 3:08 pm

    I hope Cusack does more movies like this and less like 2012 and Hot Tub.

    • July 14, 2010 3:58 pm

      Yeah, those were stinkers. Cusack’s really good here, too. Wonder why he doesn’t take more off-kilter roles instead of shit where he keeps getting rained on.

  10. July 16, 2010 12:33 am

    “Folks, I’m not gonna lie, Grosse Pointe Blank is kinda the bomb.”

    I appreciate you telling the truth.

  11. Mike B permalink
    July 18, 2010 5:12 pm

    There’s not many bad things I can say about this film. ok that’s wrong – there’s NOTHING bad I can say about this film. Everyone in it plays a great role, yeah, even Minnie Driver is good in it.
    It’s currently on a run on an Indie film channel here in the UK along with another of my all time favourites – The Big Lebowski.
    I’ll sit and watch both films every time they’re on, don;t ask me to choose a fave, I can’t!!

    • July 19, 2010 8:01 am

      Damn, that channel’s all set as is. Glad you dig this, too. What a kickass movie. Thanks for visiting, man!

  12. November 12, 2013 8:19 am

    Great movie, great soundtrack. The fight scene with the other hitman is actually one of my favorites, and I am a huge martial arts nut. John Cusack’s opponent is an old martial arts vet named Benny “the Jet” Urquidez, who was Jackie Chan’s foe in two of the best fight scenes ever filmed. Check out their combat in DRAGONS FOREVER and WHEELS ON MEALS. Aside from Bruce Lee v.s Chuck Norris, it doesn’t get much better!


  1. Grosse Pointe Blank (1997) | All Films Blog

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