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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 32.35%
Just Average: 4.9%
Pretty Crappy: 1.96%
Sucks: 1.96%

7 reviews, 60 user ratings

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Grosse Pointe Blank
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by Slyder

"Uneven yet Fun Stuff"
4 stars

TEN YEARS MAN! TEN! T-T-T-TEN YEARS! You got that?!! T-E-N YEEEARRS! Actually, for me itís been ELEVEN years since I saw this movie the first time. See, back then I only knew John Cusack as Vince Larkin in the Jerry Bruckheimer over-bloated bullet/explosion-ridden action-fest Con-Air. I didnít know much about his teen-idol past, which meant of course that I missed out on stuff like Better Off Dead and Say AnythingÖ But to the point, I thought he was just another action actor on the likes of Nic Cage, so it wasnít surprising that he came out with a movie as Grosse Pointe Blank. Just because he was a hit man and was wielding two guns, I was sold. That should tell you how much I knew about movies back then. So ten years later I revisit this film to find out not much has changed regarding my liking to this film. Itís a very cool amalgam of hard-hitting action, black comedy, and 80ís satire and nostalgia. Despite a tendency to meander about, it still delivers the goods, although it may take a couple of viewings for it to completely sink in.

So Cusack plays Martin Q. Blank, a former CIA spook turned professional killer for hire who suddenly has a midlife crisis, heís beginning to get tired of his job and suddenly he gets in the mail an invitation letter from his High School to attend their 10 year reunion of students from the Generation of 1986. Against his better judgment, heís forced to go thanks to a combination of factors starting by his shrink Dr. Oatman (Alan Arkin) who insists him to go as a break from his daily routine, (and also to get rid of him since he finally managed to know about Martinís ďprofessionĒ), his loyal secretary Marcella (Joan Cusack) who tells him also to go as a side-trip since heís got another job assigned to him in lovely Detroit, Michigan in the old neighborhood of Grosse Pointe, but also, because itíll give him a chance to meet face to face with his former flame Debi Newberry (Minnie Driver), whom he stood up on prom night ten years ago and left with no explanation. While at the same time, heís also trying to fend off a rival hit man by the name of Grocer (Dan Aykroyd) who wants Martin to join his union of assassins, and letís say that they donít agree with each other that much, to the point of death, while a couple of Grocer-sent NSA agents and a ďrich manís dog avengingĒ terrorist have also landed in Grosse Pointe to take a shot at Martin.

The one thing that your aged perspective does, apart from allowing you to view some tics and bloops that you couldnít have given a shit about back in the younger years, is that it also allows you to take a clear look at the filmmakerís influences on the movie. A lot of people have made comparisons to Quentin Tarantino and more to the point, Tarantinoís masterwork Pulp Fiction, mainly because of the filmís handling of black comedy and violence and I believe more due to the fact that a promotion poster of that film is found at the Ultimart store where a shootout between Blank an a Basque Terrorist occurs (and curiously, Bruce Willis gets his head blown off). So yeah, that makes perfect sense, however Iím inclined to take this a step further and trace the films primary influences even further. Think about it for a second, Martinís cool, suave way of dressing in suit, tie and dark glasses and his dry, funny but at times mournful behavior; doesnít that remind of you of a certain Chinese guy from the late 80s who used to wear a suit, tie, trench coat and glasses as well as sporting two 9mm Berettas on both fists? Yep, that very same guy, conscience problem included; only difference is that Blank doesnít wear a trench coat and sports two Glock 17s instead. Couple of other bits support this theory of mine; take also for instance, Martinís graduation year, 1986, the very same year the John Woo/Chow Yun-Fat released their groundbreaking bullet-ridden masterwork A Better Tomorrow; and finally the well-documented fact that Quentin Tarantinoís primary influence was said movie and said actor/director team.

It was quite thrilling seeing John Cusack (who co-wrote and co-produced the film) and director George Armitage (who directed) pay homage to the Heroic Bloodshed flicks from the 80s, and itís this bit of filmmaking which led me into the filmís blend of comedy and satire, and a soundtrack full of (mostly) 80ís music. For the first hour, the film is on rails, Cusack is right at home here of course, and thatís the whole point, doing sort of a ďreunion filmĒ with a black twist. Itís quite funny to see how Martinís profession and his misery compare with the ones of his mates, which isnít that much different per se. This sort of sameness and an expected air of cynicism that was born in that decade propel these very same people to take it as a joke whenever Martin says that heís a professional killer. Martin gets a prop from Debiís dad (Mitch Ryan) when Martin tells him what he does in what Debiís dad sees as ďa growing industry.Ē It also pinpoints the changing times, culminated by Martinís shocking discovery that his home is now the aforementioned Ultimart convenience store. The heart of the movie lies mostly on how Martin tries to make amends with Debi, how to explain or how to ease her into understanding his reasons why he left, i.e. his violent past. While he attempts this however, it becomes abundantly clear how much Martin and Debi deserve each other, for they immediately hit it off as if nothing had happened, and the chemistry between the two is undeniable despite Martinís self-imposed stumbling blocks.

Things however start to go a little bad for the film by the second hour as things tend to meander too much in the retro 80ís pastiche and therefore threatens to ground the proceedings to a halt. This sort of thing makes more glaring a recurring editing error in the film, which is that for some reason it cannot seem to balance very well its moments of action and comedy, it sort of goes back and forth between the two rather than blending both sides more seamlessly. Itís this sort of mistake that while at first comes off as a minor annoyance, it ultimately derails the filmís climatic shootout moment, which is thrilling and exciting on its own, but seems just out of place with the rest of the film. Thereís also a few strands of subplots that donít necessarily make sense the first time around (hence why repeated viewings are the key) such as the Budro case, and the presence of those two NSA agents (Hank Azaria and K. Todd Friedman) at first is a funny tidbit, but it quickly wears out its welcome and becomes tedious. Despite this however, this is a film whose charm lies within each repeated viewing, as a barrage of references from Heroic Bloodshed, to James Bond, to 80ís teenage nostalgia float around.

The cast is mainly strong. John Cusack is well suited as the barrage-of-complexity-ridden Martin Blank, and is perfect as the focal point of the filmís moral ambiguity. Minnie Driver is also impressive as Debi, and both she and Cusack are simply perfect together. The big surprise, and a major standout is Dan Aykroyd as Grocer, Martinís amicable-though-not-quite rival hit man who wonít take no for an answer and wants him to join his assassinís union at all costs (yet another jab at corporate industries of the 80s). Aykroyd kicks ass in the film (amazing considering his resume of late), and almost walks away with the whole movie at one point. Joan Cusack (Johnís big sister) is charming and feisty as Martinís secretary, and in fact, she might actually be the most likeable character in the film, for she manages to be more often than not Martinís most trusted friend and conscience watcher. A big shout also goes to Jeremy Piven who plays Martinís long lost friend Paul Spericki, a real estate agent who still has a knack for smoking a doobie, and whom is also unprepared to meet face to face with Martinís true nature. As a plus, look out for several of the Cusack family making cameos throughout the film. And letís not forget Alan Arkin as Martinís shrink, Dr. Oatman; his scenes with Martin are hilarious, mainly because Dr. Oatman is already tired and frightened at Martinís sight and speech.

Despite some rough patches in the filmís last hour and the editing problems, director George Armitage acquits himself quite nicely with this one. Grosse Pointe Blank certainly makes for sure entertainment and for people that grew up listening to The Specials, The Clash, Lula, and all of them new-wave/post-punk artists from that era, it will be quite a trippy voyage back to memory lane. Itís definitely worth the rental. 4-5

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=312&reviewer=235
originally posted: 05/04/09 00:12:43
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User Comments

9/21/17 morris campbell boring point blank is more like it 1 stars
10/27/08 The Dork Knight Cute romance with a generous amount of Blam Blam 5 stars
10/13/08 Dr.Lao One of the few Hollywood "black comedies" that is actually funny 4 stars
6/05/07 R.W. Welch Clever plot device with good follow-through. B+ 4 stars
8/24/05 ES if this is what they mean by dark comedy than what's not to like = see it 4 stars
2/22/05 julia anything with john cusack is sure to be a hit 5 stars
2/13/05 Naka Smart, hilarious, engrossing, touching...the funnest dark comedy I've seen yet 5 stars
1/02/05 Landshark the Jon Stewart of the hitman subgenre: fresh, hip, irreverent 5 stars
8/24/04 Agent Sands This is one of my favorite movies in a LOOONNG time. It's just perfect!!! 5 stars
2/26/04 Nomah This movie is WRITTEN! 5 stars
12/30/03 Tocco Great town and movie. 5 stars
10/21/03 Dean Rapp A thinking persons black comedy 4 stars
10/11/03 laura paterson one of the BEST film's ever! hilarious! 5 stars
3/02/03 Jack Sommersby Overblown comedy/actioner veers fatally off-tone. Some snappy dialogue helps. 2 stars
2/16/03 nanite happy, black and clever at the same time. who would wanr more? 5 stars
1/08/03 Phil M. Aficionado Way over the top comedy and satire with brilliant performances; LOL moments and great pace. 5 stars
11/08/02 Stevo Madly underrated. Extremely entertaining for every second. One of the best of the decade. 5 stars
10/10/02 Sparticus Boy You are the ones who are the ball lickers!! This is the best movie ever made! 5 stars
4/02/02 Butterbean This was awful! I had to turn the tape off halfway. 1 stars
11/28/01 KMG This is a grossly pointless movie that makes one's mind go blank after 2 hours 3 stars
10/15/01 Meg J John Cusack. Nuff' said. 5 stars
10/07/01 jawsboy pretty sweet movie. Cusack kicks ass!! 4 stars
8/18/01 Edwin Menguin It made me feel slightly unstable, very 'cool'. Fuckin' Cunt Eyes 3 stars
7/27/01 Geebo Cusack was good, the movie was also 5 stars
7/19/01 dBoy(!) One of my favorite films 5 stars
6/08/01 Laurian Diaconescu I loved the movie,it was really good.One of the best black comedy I've ever seen. 5 stars
5/04/01 The Chosen One awesome 5 stars
4/17/01 BrainPan Ten years!! ten yearrrrrs. 5 stars
2/16/01 Jake very slick film. Both Cusacks were good. 4 stars
11/19/00 The EVIL Penguin Cusack at his best 4 stars
7/17/00 The Bomb 69 well written, Dan Aykroyd can actually be funny with the right material 5 stars
4/30/00 Steve Layne Very good premise, but it doesn't deliver that well. 3 stars
1/08/00 John Markham A class film.John Cusack is at the pinnacle of cool. 5 stars
6/25/99 Andrew P. My favorite movie. Cusack as a hitman! You can't go wrong there! 5 stars
6/15/99 Dylan Great. 5 stars
4/10/99 Tristynn I fell asleep.. enough said.. ZZZZ 2 stars
4/05/99 Michael Grimm different kind of humor, made you think 5 stars
3/27/99 TJwills Cusack hits a homerun and Piven takes it to new levels. 5 stars
3/24/99 James Coffey Great dark comedy, however Aykroyd seemed a bit out of place to me. 5 stars
3/04/99 Rachel It was OK, but i think I'm gonna have to see it a third time. 4 stars
2/01/99 Matthew Bartley Cusacks the coolest thing since Nicholson 4 stars
1/26/99 Kooky Sal This was a sincerely good film in almost every respect, though the soundtrack was medicore. 5 stars
11/26/98 G great script, great acting, great movie 5 stars
11/16/98 Jules Boring. I expected more. 3 stars
10/19/98 Haskell Daniels Awesome all over. Cusack rocks and Aykroyd hasn't done a movie this good for years. 5 stars
10/18/98 Kwyjibo This movie makes me want to write, every time I see it. 5 stars
9/30/98 Flea Bitten Nut What a great God damned movie. Hype on the 80's soundtrack was misdirected, but it ruled. 5 stars
9/25/98 Pat Flanagan "You can never go home again, but apoparently you can shop there." 5 stars
9/23/98 Nate Dogg Makes yah wonder what ever really happened to Lloyd after "say anything," eh? 5 stars
9/22/98 Anna Karenina Dope. Saved Aykroyd's career. Cusack's can do no wrong. 5 stars
9/04/98 Badass Existential grief has never been captured on film so vibrantly 5 stars
8/24/98 The Capital City Goofball I was ready to blow Aykroyd up until this, but since BB2000 he's back on the list. 5 stars
8/22/98 Mister Whoopee No argument here. I'd do Minnie. Mouse. haha. 5 stars
8/20/98 Mike F this move is dabomb 5 stars
8/20/98 Pete Cusack=good. Great flick. Stands up to repeat viewings. 5 stars
8/17/98 zubilicious Cusack is awesome with this sketchy role. His timing just makes it even better. 5 stars
8/16/98 Johny Cusack rocks, movie funny, kickass 5 stars
8/16/98 J-Guy (The MFC) really dug it. in fact, I am going to go buy a gun, now. 5 stars
8/16/98 {{{OZ}}} Get's better the more times you see it. A great movie all around. 5 stars
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  11-Apr-1997 (R)



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