Starring: John Cusack, Minnie Driver, Alan Arkin
Director: George Armitage
Running Time: 107 mins
Grosse Pointe Blank is an American film about a career hitman who is assigned a job in his hometown, at the same time that his high school reunion is taking place.
A dark comedy that really commits to both sides of the genre, Grosse Pointe Blank is just as funny as it is entertainingly bleak. With a fantastic lead performance from John Cusack, a sharp screenplay, and a brilliantly nostalgic soundtrack, this film offers a great story to really sink your teeth into.
Though never going to lengths like you’d expect from the Coen Brothers, Grosse Pointe Blank really balances its eye for comedy and dark drama well. Its biggest strength is by far its humour, which is sometimes fantastically laugh-out-loud, and sometimes brilliantly edgy.
A lot of that humour comes from a screenplay which isn’t afraid to have a little fun with a story that you might be expecting a little more gritty drama from. Sure, the film goes into all the pitfalls and long-term effects of life as a hitman, but it also plumps that super-sleek profession into the most mundane of environments.
Bolstered by a lead performance from John Cusack, who portrays his character just as ice-cool as his job would suggest, and simultaneously as a far more weak-kneed person that you might expect, Grosse Pointe Blank counts on a delicious series of ups and downs to provide both great laughs and great drama.
Ultimately, there’s much of this movie that comes across like a Say Anything-esque romantic comedy, and the contrast between that side of the story and the rest of the film is so much fun to watch throughout, particularly with a fantastic co-starring performance from Minnie Driver alongside Cusack.
Finally, there’s one thing about Grosse Pointe Blank that I can’t fail to mention, and that’s the soundtrack. Although not serving much purpose to the film’s atmosphere or pacing, much of the music here is cleverly-utilised diegetic ’80s hits that really bring an entertaining sense of nostalgia to the table.
Not only is every song that plays throughout the film (and there are a lot of them) a joy to hear for any fan of ’80s music, but it also really brings home the small-scale nature of this story, taking a hitman and putting him back where he came from, in a world where he seems to have changed so much while everything else has remained the same.
It’s a nice touch that, while seemingly superficial at first, really adds to the film with just another layer of tongue-in-cheek, entertaining comedy.
So, thanks to great performances, strong writing and a toe-tapping soundtrack, there’s a lot to like about Grosse Pointe Blank. It’s never quite as dark or bleak as you might at first expect, but the film’s levity actually proves its greatest strength, balancing humour and dark drama really nicely to deliver a thoroughly enjoyable watch. So that’s why I’m giving Grosse Pointe Blank a 7.6 overall.