Film Scouts Reviews

"Grosse Pointe Blank"

by Leslie Rigoulot

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I'm going to go see "Grosse Pointe Blank" again because people were laughing so loud and long that I missed some of the dialog. And I don't want to miss any of it. While it may seem a bit much to take the heavy angst of being a hitman, combine it with a lighthearted tenth high school reunion, and add a long-lost-love-story, it is more than well done. It is poignant, funny, and thoroughly entertaining! John Cusack is a treasure as the assassin who reluctantly returns home not only for a reunion but for work. Minnie Driver is the object of Cusack's affections and a worthy one at that. After the critical success of "Circle of Friends", I wasn't sure we'd ever see the Brit again. But she has parlayed it into a series of roles, including "Sleepers", as a New Yorker. She is thoroughly convincing as the Midwesterner he left behind and is now pursuing. Juggling work and personal life has never been so hilarious.

The production team of Susan Arnold and Donna Roth have a history with unusual stories such as "Benny & Joon" and my favorite, "Unstrung Heroes", so I wasn't too surprised to find that when John Cusack approached them with Tom Jankiewicz's script, they let him run with it. He took the lead role, co-writing and even co-producing. Gathering his high school buddies Steve Pink and D.V. DeVincentis to share writing duties with him, and Jeremy Piven to share the acting, Cusack is a one-man film industry. He achieved critical notice with "The Grifters", but it wasn't really until Woody Allen's "Bullets Over Broadway" that he blew me away. In "Grosse Pointe Blank", his character is in every scene and only when he shares the screen with the outstanding Alan Arkin is Cusack ever out of the limelight. Arkin is Cusack's shrink, although theirs is not the typical doctor-patient relationship; like all of his relationships, this is also tainted by Cusack's profession. In their best roles in recent memory are Dan Aykroyd as Cusack's rival and Joan Cusack as his secretary. And another Chicago alum shows up in the pivotal role of Cusack's mother: Barbara Harris. She is touching and reverberates throughout the film partially due to her skills as an actress and partially due to the superb script. Usually if you see more than three name on the screenplay line, you know there was trouble. But the reverse is true here.

Another thing I really liked about this film is the way that the music supplements the dialog, not taking the place of it. And it is so unobtrusive you don't feel obligated to run out and buy the soundtrack, even though it features Faith No More, Violent Femmes and The Jam. Just stay away from the commercials and previews that give away too much and you will enjoy "Grosse Pointe Blank". Rated R. Hollywood Pictures

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