Thursday, November 14, 2013

Movie #224: Grosse Pointe Blank

Grosse Pointe Blank is a comedy/action movie starring John Cusack, Minnie Driver, Dan Ackroyd, Alan Arkin, and Joan Cusack. It's one of my favorite movies.

Martin Blank (Cusack) is a hit man who's not entirely thrilled with his job. He's good at it, but lately he's been slipping. His assistant Marcella (Joan Cusack) gets an invitation for his 10-year high school reunion, an his therapist (Arkin) encourages him to go and maybe not kill anyone for a few days.

But there's a kind of hitch: Martin left on prom night, 10 years ago, because he was, well, fucked up. His mother is mentally ill, and his father (dead as of the events of the movie) was apparently a drunk, and he realized on prom night that he wanted to kill someone, so he left, joined the Army, and eventually became a government-trained assassin. Thing is, he left his girlfriend (Driver) waiting, and never looked back.

So Blank returns, but nothing's ever easy. He's got an assignment while he's there (penance for fucking up another job). He's got another hit man (Benny "The Jet" Urquidez) on him on an unrelated issue involving a dead dog. He's got another hitter, a former associate named Grocer (Ackroyd), trying to put together a kind of assassin's guild, he wants Martin in, and won't take "no" for an answer. And into the mix, he's got all the usual "coming home and learning your childhood home is now a convenience store" issues, and on top of that, there's Debbie, the lost love of his life, seeing him again.

I really, really, like this movie. The chemistry between the cast members is amazing. Every single relationship in the movie works perfectly, from the obviously affection with maybe a touch of fear that Marcella feels for Martin, to Martin's unsteady relationship with his therapist, to the vaguely and unpleasantly paternal relationship with Grocer, to the obvious romantic and sexual chemistry with Debbie. But you feel like Debbie and Martin were really a couple, they know each other's jokes and patter. You feel like Martin's best buddy Paul (Jeremy Piven) really missed him, and really cares about him - enough to literally help him hide a body. And when Debbie finally finds out that, no, all those times when Martin says he's a "professional killer" he was not fucking around, she freaks out completely believably.

The action in the movie is pretty amazing, too. The fight scene between Martin and the European hit man Felix La Pubelle (Urquidez) is fast, brutal and awesome ("Cusack's been training for this since Say Anything," as Michelle noted). The dialog is snappy and well-written, and Martin's confession at the end doesn't feel out of nowhere because he's obviously been building to it the whole time.

The only thing that bugs me about it is the line "Everything about you is a lie," because literally nothing Martin says is a lie, ever. But that's a minor point, I think.

My grade: A
Rewatch value: High

Next up: Groundhog Day