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Starring John Cusack and Minnie Driver, Alan Arkin, Dan Aykroyd and Joan Cusack
Screenplay by Tom Jankiewicz, D.V. DeVincentis, Steve Pink, John Cusack
Directed by George Armitage

Grosse Pointe Blank should put an end to the incredible feelings of insecurity that come up around the time of a high school reunion; the time when you think that you haven't accomplished anything with your life and have to lie to the friends you haven't seen in ten years. No, it isn't necessary to be impressive. Just tell the truth, be yourself, remember to carry lots of extra ammunition and most important, don't leave your gun in the hotel room.

Grosse Pointe Blank is the kind of movie that, if you haven't reached your first reunion or if you are perhaps 40 years beyond those rah rah rah years, you're just not going to understand. What it is is chaotic. What it is is cartoonishly violent. What it is is outrageously funny.

Martin Q. Blank (John Cusack), well liked in high school, vanished on the night of his high school prom. Debi Newberry (Minnie Driver), the girl left sitting by the door in her $700 dress haunts his every sleeping moment. This episode, needing closure, is topic one on his list of things to discuss with his shrink Dr. Oatman (Alan Arkin). Oatman, for his own part, wants off the case because Martin has shared his occupation professional killer and the good doc fears for his own safety. Add to our merry band Martin's oh so efficient secretary Marcella (Joan Cusack) who can purchase ammunition on one phone line while she discusses recipes with a girlfriend on the other. Finally, there is Grocer (Dan Aykroyd), a competing hit man who wants to organize the industry and, failing to recruit Martin, sics the Feds on him.

Doesn't sound funny, does it? Let your eyes fool you folks. If you fall in the properly aforementioned demographics, the odds are much better than even that you will roll with laughter, even as the bullets fly and the plastique explosive blows the roof off the sucker. It isn't that the characters you are seeing are unique. Indeed, the casting choices are perfect Alan Arkin as the shrink who is none too steady himself; Dan Aykroyd and Joan Cusack, both alumni of Saturday Night Live performing roles very much in keeping with characters created in their halcyon television days. Topping it off is the other Cusack, who has all these heavy emotional issues to deal with -- ten years flies by way too fast for some people -- and to whom killing is a job that he, a man with moral flexibility, is more than suited to. He keeps a strait face as each situation he faces becomes more and more absurd, which is what makes each situation funnier than the last.

The whole thing sits on a bed of wall to wall tunes from the 80s, quite neatly documenting Cranky's last career in the radio business actually, and additional music by The Clash's Joe Strummer. The selections are so in tune with the "return to 1986" theme of the reunion, that three quarters of the audience I sat with stayed in their seats to check out the credits.

Grosse Pointe Blank is difficult in that it almost fits into a lot of genres. It's almost an out and out comedy, but it isn't. It's almost a simple love story, but it isn't. It's almost a shoot 'em up in the Tarantino style, but it isn't. What it is is highly recommended.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Grosse Pointe Blank, he would have paid...


I'm laying out the extra buck as a bounty on the head of the film's music editor, who decimated Bowie/Queen's "Under Pressure" and at least half a dozen other great tunes. Cranky says: "if you're going to do go chop chop on an old 45, at least try not to mess with major hits, OK?" 'Nuff said.

One other thing. Skip the 10th reunion. The dorks are still dorks. Everything looks so much nicer at 20 years on.

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