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.
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