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Grosse Pointe Blank

movie reviewmovie review out of 4

All-Reviews.com Movie Review: Grosse Pointe Blank

Starring: John Cusack, Minnie Driver
Director: George Armitage
Rated: R
RunTime: 106 Minutes
Release Date: April 1997
Genres: Action, Comedy


*Also starring: Alan Arkin, Dan Aykroyd, Joan Cusack



Review by Andrew Hicks
2½ stars out of 4

The movie hitman always exhibits several common traits. Like the Schwarzeneggerian action hero, he is a calm, collected killer who manages to crack one-liners about that most morbid of topics: death. And he seems to get away with -- if you'll excuse the expression -- murder, without anyone ever realizing that, when he says he's a professional killer, he's not kidding. The hitman this time is played by John Cusack and the main difference between this and other hitman films is that GROSSE POINT BLANK is a high-minded satire centered around Cusack's visit to his 10-year high school reunion.

Cusack has disappeared from the town in which he grew up, leaving everyone to wonder what's become of him, especially his bitter ex-girlfriend (Minnie Driver). He stood her up for prom and she hasn't seen him since. Now all she has to her name is a low-rent radio show on 79.5, a frequency which doesn't even exist on radio receivers. When Cusack shows up after all that time away, Driver can't talk to him in private. She puts him on the air instead, more interested in entertaining the listeners than working out her personal problems with Cusack. It serves as a buffer between her public and private lives. See, I know the psychology of entertainment -- I _live_ the psychology of entertainment.

Cusack, like Romy and Michelle, doesn't want to go to his high school reunion, but his secretary forces him to go. The secretary, played by Cusack's sister Joan (in her perpetual comic supporting roles), is one of the enjoyable characters that lend GROSSE POINT BLANK its comic charm. Another is Dan Aykroyd, who is in his first decent movie since MY GIRL, and even that one is debatable to most film buffs. He plays the villain of the film, a rival hitman who wants Cusack to join his union of professional killers. They've gone without benefits for too long. So has Aykroyd, actually.

Cusack finally agrees to head for his reunion because he'll be in the area for a job anyway. So he stops in and has a few bizarre scenes with Driver before those two become hot and heavy again. He also meets a few old friends, including another of the great comic supporters, Jeremy Piven. All the while, a few mysterious men are following Cusack for reasons that become clear later. This subplot takes away from the comedic intelligence in favor of the traditional gunfight ending.

The main trip-up of GROSSE POINT BLANK is that, despite its great cast and interesting premise, it has too much convention. The Cusack-Driver romance is predictable, and so is the Cusack-Aykroyd conflict. Whenever any of that plays out onscreen, the movie turns mediocre. GROSSE POINT BLANK works when it gives us the biting satire on the politics of murder show and how pathetic all the high school people are 10 years after graduation. And you thought your high school classmates couldn't get any more pathetic...

Copyright 1997 Andrew Hicks

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