Retro Movie Review "Grosse Point Blank" 1997. Starring John Cusack, Minnie Driver. Co-Starring Joan Cusack, Dan Ackroyd, Hank Azzaria, Jeremy Piven. Ooh, and a cameo by Jenna Elfman, I think prior to her sitcom success! This is a dark comedy.

A little 1980’s nostalgia. Minnie Driver with an American accent. I think this is an underrated film. It wasn’t very popular at the time, though I liked it. I even saw it in the theater! The stars are charming as those two always are. Maybe it’s just me but I think John Cusack is charming in practically everything. He just has that quality that I like because he seems kind of pitiful and cool at the same time. Have you seen “Say Anything?” Same thing.
Oh, another awesome John Cusack movie? “Better Off Dead.” Two dollars!!!

Besides this post being a blatant attempt by me to get you to click through to Amazon via my links here and buy something so my blog can get me some money (I’m a teacher, can you blame me for trying to make extra money?) I’m also trying to maybe give you a movie or two to watch.

Minnie Drive is awfully cute. She’s probably done a lot of other movies, but the only ones I can think of are “Good Will Hunting” (You’re one them Hahvahd smaht kids, right?) and when she did the voice of Jane in “Tarzan.” Anyway, this one is interesting in that she does a pretty darn good American accent for the whole movie. I listened for a slip or two but didn’t hear any.

So, my verdict on “Grosse Point Blank” is that you should watch it. It’s a fun movie. I enjoy it. Sure, I have a predilection for professional assassin movies, but this one is a fun twist on the genre. Cusack plays, Martin, a conflicted hitman who sees a therapist (this was pre-Sopranos, too) and is trying to work his way through his issues. He just isn’t feeling the same je ne sais quois about his work. Plus, another hit man (played by Dan Ackroyd!) is trying to get him to join a hitman union and he likes to work alone.

So, he goes to his high school reunion to do a job and also reconnect with a lost flame, Debi.

The movie’s plot is kind of confusing. I remember the first time I watched the movie and not really understanding exactly how he gets his work, who he works for, who that guy is trying to kill him and so on. Honestly, I think that the filmmakers didn’t really care about the plot except as a cute vehicle to tell the love story of the two main characters. And, if you like John Cusack at all, you should see this movie. He carries it, for sure.

***Warning! Spoilers ahead!***

One reason I like the movie is because I think it’s interesting to see how the filmmakers take a repugnant main character (a professional killer) and make him likeable to the audience. It takes a little slight of hand and a bit of cheating, too. Everyone he runs into is like, “Hey, Martin, it’s been ten years! Where have you been? What are you doing for a living?” He stammers a little and answers, “I’m a professional hitman.” They respond with, “Isn’t that nice?” Or, “That’s a growth industry.” I think we are to take it that they think he’s kidding.

So, if they think he’s kidding, why is it that none of the characters every asks again, “No, really, what are you up to?” They all just let it slide. And, if they believe him, why do none of them recoil as we all would? The only “normal” character is his therapist who tells him that he will notify the police if he will commit a crime, then later says, “Try not killing anyone for a few days, see how it feels.” So, that also seems inconsistent. I think that’s cheating. Either you create a world where no one cares that he’s a killer (which they didn’t) or you set it in a realistic world (which they did) where people react normally to meeting a professional killer.

At the end, when Debi realizes that Martin is, in fact, a killer, she screams hysterically and runs away. Now, she’s in love with him (still? again?) so you would think that she might have at least waited for some kind of explanation. But, no, she acts as if he has personally betrayed her. I can’t remember if he ever “jokingly” told her he was a killer. However, she hasn’t seen him for 10 years. He disappeared and made no contact with her. So, if you were her, would you really feel betrayed if in the two or three days since he came back that he failed to tell you he was a killer? I dunno. It just seems like the reaction is contrived rather than organic. Horrified? Yeah, I could buy horrified. Repusled? Okay. But, she is angry at him for what? For lying?

Whatever. You know what? Women are never consistent anyway. So, I guess the movie works.

Haha just kidding. I can’t speak for all women but My Favorite Woman in the Whole World (MFWITWW) has herself some double standards. So, there you go.

Anyway, as some who know me will remember, I wrote a screenplay with a similar main character and it was, in some way, inspired by this film. Professional killers as main characters are interesting. Unsympathetic characters as main characters are interesting, for that matter. One of the things that I struggled with was getting the main character to be likeable enough that the audience would care about him. And, it was tough to figure out how “normal” people would react to someone who was a killer. I still think it was a good screenplay but people get all sensitive about other people that kill people. Weird.


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