Classic Intel: Grosse Pointe Blank - DVD Review

'a musing on life, the universe and everything as much as the book which spawned that phrase'

Boasting one of the best soundtracks of any film, ever, Grosse Pointe Blank is one of those films that suffers from that most overused of negative arguments, the old, 'but its a comedy' denial. You know the sort of discussion. You're expounding the virtues of 1990s films and you use GPB as an example; 'it's got John Cusack and Dan Akroyd and it's really funny and that soundtrack...' before being quickly and abruptly shot down by your friend (who, incidentally, probably has a degree in film criticism and theory) with his singularly sweeping 'but... its a comedy' statement. Because, obviously, that's the worst criticism you can level at any film. Ever.

And, of course, it's true. Grosse Pointe Blank is an extremely clever, very funny and darkly witty comedy about a hitman (John Cusack) who wants out and combines his last job with visiting his high-school sweetheart (Minnie Driver) in a bid to rediscover who he is.

However, GPB is also a musing on life, the universe and everything as much as the book which spawned that phrase is. The oft-referenced scene with Cusack staring into the eyes of a baby is heralded as the moment when the film becomes more overtly concerned with life and where it's heading but the signs are there throughout. Cusack's magazine choice (above) for example, is Discover and features the headline 'Making Sense Of Creation'. Meanwhile, Cusack's dialogue with Alan Arkin (brilliantly deadpanning a psychiatrist) refers to the film's themes more overtly; 'you can't go home Oatman' Cusack tells the doctor upon discovering his family home is now a convenience store, 'but you can shop there'. Of course, said store is eventually destroyed, prompting the philosophical question; what happens when the place that destroyed your home is destroyed? All of this after Cusack has posed the Becketian question 'what are you doing here?' to the store clerk. Right from the start, when Cusack's secretary tells him 'don't forget your identity' this is a film concerned with who we are, what we're doing and why, in the grand scheme of things, we're doing them.

It's also, lest we forget, a comedy, and a romantic one at that. Unlike the formula stuff Hollywood sells us nowadays, the comedy is hilarious and the romance is perfect. Cusack and Driver have an antagonistic, flawed and involving dichotomy, perfectly realised with brilliant chemistry, mirrored elsewhere in the Cusack/Arkin and Cusack/Akroyd verbal sparring.

As time goes on, GPB is starting to acquire its very own vintage, in part due to another old adage, the; 'they don't make 'em like this anymore' worship. Here though, it's as true as many other 'classics' - brilliant performances, clever comedy and that soundtrack mean that GPB is a genre and career best for many of the people involved. Defend it against all comedy naysayers.

Look further...

Eternal Sunshine Of The Logical Mind here fantastically reconstructs 'the baby' scene. Wallow in the nostalgia.


  1. DAMN! I really need to see this again. Can completely dig the 5/5. Good review for one kickass movie.

  2. It just grows and grows over time. Every time I watch it I find something new to laugh at. Love it.