Grosse Pointe Blank
(Reviewed March 1, 1997)
Grosse Pointe Blank by George Armitage is a high concept movie. A hit
man called Martin Blank (John Cusack) goes to his 10 year high school reunion.
He tells people matter of factly what he does and they reply by saying something
like: “Do you get dental with
“Do you have to do post-graduate work
for that?” His
ex-girlfriend’s father (Mitchell Ryan)
says, “Oh, good for you.
It’s a growth
industry.” Only the ex-girlfriend,
Debi (Minnie Driver) shows a flicker of concern at the news of his profession,
and to her he says: “I
don’t think what a person does for a
living affects who he is.”
It is never explained why he went crazy and stood Debi up for their prom date
10 years before, even though it is clear he is still in love with her. He just
had to rush out and join the army. The
people” found that he was talented in
the sense that he had “a certain moral
flexibility” so he was loaned out to
the CIA. Debi is horrified: “You work
for the government?”
he replies. “Used
to.” Now, he says, he kills people
strictly for money.
It is the one moment of successful satire in a movie that goes on for too
long and is only intermittently funny. The suggestion is that the CIA types do
it just for the joy of killing.
only behaving rationally, in his own economic interest, like everybody else in
America. Likewise, the two government agents who are hanging around him as he
returns to Grosse Pointe are gunned down by both Martin and his archrival, the
Grocer (Dan Ackroyd), without a thought and as the Grocer, who is attempting to
organize an assassins’ union, shouts
“workers of the world
unite.” They had been waiting their
chance but couldn’t shoot first.
Government policy is: “You wait till
the bad guy kills the good guy; then, when you kill the bad guy,
you’re the good
It is all very promising, as are the too-brief scenes with
Martin’s psychiatrist, Dr Oatman (Alan
Arkin) who keeps insisting that Martin
isn’t his patient. He
can’t be his patient because
emotionally involved with you,” he
afraid of you.”
It is the psychiatrist who urges him to go to his class reunion.
kill anybody for a few days,” he says;
“see how it
give it a shot,” says Martin.
Don’t give it a
But the promise is never quite realized. Too much is going on. The business
with Debi, with the Grocer and his union, with the doctor, with his secretary,
Marcella (Joan Cusack), with the government agents and another rival
hitman and, above all, with the reunion itself, which only lurks sketchily in
the background is all largely undeveloped. Too bad, because the concept is a