Remembering the 90’s cult classic…..

One of the best theories I have read on the Internet is that Grosse Pointe Blank is in fact an unofficial sequel to John Cusack’s earlier film  Say Anything!  If you have never heard this logic before then I admit, its quite a strange one, but if you watch the two films, you can see similarities between the characters that Cusack plays.  

In both films he plays a man with a rather blank expression and is unsure of what he wants to do with his life.  He also has a distant relationship with his girlfriend’s father until he finally endears himself to them (in a way no boyfriend should). The two fathers are involved in something that gets them in trouble and there is a pivotal moment that sums up the use of a pen and also a character gets mentioned in both films.

You could say that at the end of Say AnythingLloyd does what Martin does in this, and just disappear and leave the love of his life heartbroken.  I know its a case of reading too much into things and how the heck was this spotted I never know, but when I watched both films back to back you can not help but see where this bizarre logic comes from. 

When I originally saw this twisted link I had to see for myself but then I really do not need an excuse to watch Grosse Pointe Blank– one of the greatest films ever to come out of the decade that was the 90’s, a film that is near perfection you could possibly get!

The film starts like its going to be a huge action blockbuster with Cusack all in black holding a rifle and shooting down his target.  We get the jist straight away that this man is a hit man and a damn good one.  The trouble is Martin Blank is going through a midlife crisis, he is unsure of the direction his life is going and he is also developing a conscience which of course is a bad thing when you are hired to kill.  With the action set-piece been and gone we soon get our first glimpse into what kind of film this is going to be, and its a scene that sums up the beauty of this wonderful cult classic.

To get help with his new found feelings, Blank is seeing a psychiatrist (a brilliant cameo by Alan Arkin) who you have to feel sorry for because he is simply terrified of his client after he told him what he did for living.

Blank:  Don’t you think that maybe you’re just upset because I told you what I do for a living, and you got upset and *you’re* letting it interfere with *our* dynamic?

Dr Oatman: Whoa. Martin. You didn’t tell me what you did for a living… Dr Oatman:

Blank: Yes, I did

Dr Oatman:  You didn’t tell me what you did for a living for *four* sessions. *Then* you told me. And I said, “I don’t want to work with you any more.” And yet, you come back each week at the same time. That’s a difficulty for me. On top of that, if you’ve committed a crime or you’re thinking about committing a crime, I have to tell the authorities.

Blank:  I know the law, okay? But I don’t want to be withholding; I’m very serious about this process.

Pauses:

 And I know where you live.

Its these exchanges that sums up what we about to be offered for the rest of the film.  Its a delicious exchange filled full of dark humour and a stylish script that continues through out, getting better as each second passes. Still confused after his meeting with the stressed Doc, Martin has even more problems in his life.  his secretary (real life sister Joan Cusak) is a borderline psycho- but a damn funny one, and there is fellow assassin Grocer (Dan Aykroyd), who wants him to join the ultimate “Assassin’s Union.” instead of going out and doing his own thing.

Martin’s refusal brings out tension between the two that simmers throughout which reaches a pinnacle in a cafe scene that outdoes HEAT for a showdown in a public place. Grocer and Martin pulling off some witty dialogue from across the table while holding their guns underneath, its a moment that makes you think, “have both these actors ever been better?”

Of course while all this is going on I have not mentioned the main thrust of the film, and its all to do with a 10 year High School Reunion a one that is probably the reason why Martin is falling apart.  You see 10 years ago Martin left his high school sweetheart standing on her own, waiting for her date for the prom that never came.  Martin does not want to go to this gig, but when a job comes up in the town where its being held and with his secretary and quack both telling him it would help him if he went, Martin arrives and his life will never be the same again.

Blank heads back home to Grosse Pointe, Michigan, for a high-school reunion, hoping the trip will sort out his feelings and to confront the past involving his parents, his past, his old best friend Paul (Jeremy Piven) and of course that former girlfriend Debi. 

Before I carry on with the plot I have to say how good Minnie Driver is in this film.  She plays against the normal “left at the alter” type character that could have easily swallowed up the energy that the film displays.  There is no bitterness but an anger in which she is also confused in what happened all those years back.  She is dignified and strong and never once asks the reason “why!” instead shows Martin that her life carried on without him and she is doing very well for herself as the town’s DJ.”  She is so likeable that you can see why Martin has never forgotten her.

With the plot now in place and all building up for that reunion we are then subjected to moments that shine with sublime brilliance that you can not help but marvel at what the film is offering,

 Grosse Pointe Blank has everything you want and more, the energy, style and humour swims around in a stunning mix while at the same time,   succeeds in heart pulling emotion and waves of intelligence. 

There are two scenes that are just outstanding.  First of all the music soundtrack of the entire film is worth the purchase alone and there is one moment where a rock song is playing out as Martin arrives to his birth home to find its been torn down and a small supermarket in its place.  Live and Let Die is playing out but when Martin enters the store, the song goes from the original and into the store sound system, sounding like the cheap Supermarket music you have come to expect.  Its a great original moment that somehow so many other films have picked up on and and copied.

The other scene is at the reunion itself and its the one everyone remembers, because lets face it, its the one of 90’s most iconic cinema moments.

Cusack holding the baby while Under Pressure by David Bowie blares from the screen.  The face/off between young and old is brilliantly played out, here we see Martin staring at this baby who is staring back and the acting by Cusack is world class.  The look of realisation on his face while he looks at this innocent soul, tells the viewer so much without the need of word.

Here is a man facing up to his demons, maybe facing up to the lives he took and looking at an innocent human, an untouched soul of innocence who is making him realise how precious life is.

And that is what Grosse Pointe Blank is, special.  Even now with endless re-makes and sequels, its great now and again that Hollywood can dish out something so great.  The film is just so damn likeable and funny that you can watch over and over and for me personally its Cusack’s best performance. 

He is just so effortlessly cool through out this film. I love when he arrives back in his hometown and people ask him what he does, he tells them and they just do not believe him.  Like the film, he is so honest and enduring that you can not help but be on his side all the the way through to the bloodbath at the climatic showdown.

Such is the huge popularity of this film that for years fans have demanded a sequel and they sort of got it with War Inc, that had John, Joan and Dan all back in action.  Cusack again played a hit man and he officially calls the film (a sort of sequel) but it somehow does not work and it goes to show that Grosse Pointe Blank is a lightening in a bottle kind of film.  Unique, wonderful, dark and funny, this was one of the 90’s most proudest achievements because in what any other film do you see John Cusack battering a man with a frying-pan while declaring his undying love…………

Simply unmissable!