a critiQal film review Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: For Martin Blank (Cusack), a hit man stuck in a career rut, attending his 10-year high school reunion is about the last thing he's in the mood for! But when the prospects of rekindling an old flame (Driver) and pulling off one final job convince him to go, things are looking up...that is, until Martin's arch rival (Aykroyd) shows up aiming to blow the competition away!

567 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 50s)

Looking for an older film to watch, we were perusing NetFlix® and stumbled across GROSSE POINTE BLANK, starring John Cusack and Minnie Driver. Since neither of us had ever seen the film before, it definitely peaked our interest. A comedy about a hitman going to his high school reunion? Sounded like some quirky fun to us, so we decided to give it a shot (ha!). But would the odd pairing of John and Minnie make for interesting viewing, or was this one a miss for Cusack?

John Cusack has made quite a name for himself over the years. Whether he’s caught up in a murder mystery in Identity (2003), helping to save humanity in 2012 (2009), playing it for laughs in Hot Tub Time Machine (2010) or holding a boombox over his head in the iconic Say Anything, he usually comes up with characters the audience can connect to easily.

With Grosse Pointe Blank, he plays a depressed hitman. While that’s not exactly a character viewers can easily relate to, he does manage to bring the audience in as he plays an odd courtship dance with his ex-flame (played by Minnie Driver). He’s got a bit of sentimentality and quirky angst that helps him win over the viewers. Overall, he looks to be channeling a bit of Woody Allen-esque awkwardness that detracts a bit from the film. It’s not his best performance, but even if it’s a bit off, it’s still not that bad.

Minnie Driver does a good job playing the love interest. Her big break, after all, came after playing Matt Damon’s love interest in Good Will Hunting. She doesn’t quite have the same quiet spark with Cusack as she did with Damon, unfortunately. Still, it’s fun watching the two interact, as Cusack’s awkwardness is uniquely offset by Driver’s awkwardness. Seeing them get together isn’t quite as fun, but the lead-up to that is definitely the best part of the film.

The rest of the cast has it’s ups and downs. Alan Arkin is a bit of a throwaway as a therapist, while Dan Aykroyd is horribly miscast as another hitman. He doesn’t look the part, and his banter with Cusack is almost painful to watch. Jeremy Piven is fun as Cusack’s friend from high school, Hank Azaria is wasted as an NSA agent, and Joan Cusack (John’s older sister) is oddly fun as John’s secretary.

The plot is pretty decent, and the inevitable high school reunion nonsense is a great setup for this type of quirky comedy. The dialog isn’t really anything special, and there seems to be almost too much 80’s music crammed into the film, but the film’s plot helps the whole thing work. Toss in funny musical segues like Guns N’ Roses “Live and Let Die” transforming into stilted muzak when Cusack walks into a convenience store, and the film shows it has a few fun surprises in store.

While GROSSE POINTE BLANK isn’t as great as it might have been, it’s definitely as quirky as we were expecting (a running gag has Cusack’s character introducing himself as a hitman, with no one believing him – and then he’s later yelled at for being a liar). While it may not be the best film in any of it’s stars’ careers, it’s nice mix of a decent plot, some funny sequences, and many off-the-wall moments make for a quirky, oddly funny comedy worth checking out.

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