Ep 30: Grosse Pointe Blank

Some minor dissent among the hosts on Grosse Pointe Blank, but overall, lots of love for a great story well-told. And Joan Cusack rocks.

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Story Analysis & Ratings:

Lucy says: 4.5 Pops
I love this movie, and not just because of John Cusack. It deals with the darkness essential to being a hitman, without falling into the pit of brooding, guilt and redemption. While I would argue that the structure gets a bit muddy, and I have reservations about hitman love under even the best of circumstances, it’s a joy to watch, and a wonderfully written film.

Structure: 4, Comedy: 5, Romance: 4.5

Jenny says: 5 Pops
One of the few romances that gets the Hitman in Love trope right by making who Martin Blank is an integral part of the romance plot, fueling why he left the love of his life and why he came back to her while demonstrating his devotion with a hail of bullets and a cast iron frying pan.  I love this movie.

Structure: 5, Comedy: 5, Romance: 5

Special Guest Alastair Stephens says: 4.5 Pops
Martin Blank is a great character and ninety minutes of John Cusack is enjoyable under any circumstances — except, perhaps, Better Off Dead — but the remarkable thing about this movie is that it over-delivers in almost every way.  The script is deft and complex, the pacing is tight, the supporting cast is fantastic and this, for me, is the performance of Cusack’s career.  If only Minnie Driver had brought a little warmth to her role, and her character been a little more developed, it would be five pops all round.

Structure: 5, Comedy: 5, Romance: 4

Blog Poll Rating: TBD

Read the chat transcript!

Movie Info:

Story: A hitman goes home for his tenth high school reunion and courts a past love while dealing with the chaos of his current enemies.   Release Date: April 11, 1997 Writers: Tom Jankiewicz, D.V. DeVincentis, Steve Pink, and John Cusack

10 thoughts on “Ep 30: Grosse Pointe Blank

  1. This was the first time I’ve seen all of this movie, and I LOVED it, so thanks for picking this one. The romance did work for me, but I think I’d give it a 4. Their scenes together were excellent, and I really buy them together, it’s just that I feel like we didn’t see quite enough of them getting to know each other as they are now. I think that’s just a function of this being so much Martin’s movie though, and it’s still a great romance. Maybe I’ll change my mind next time I watch it, that’s just how it struck me on the first viewing. Also loved watching the NSA guys; every time I saw them I couldn’t help thinking “It’s Mr Trick!”

  2. This is a rare all 5-pop movie for me. I’ll be back to play soon, but I’m finishing grading 50 essay finals. No, I’m not the person who wrote that syllabus. Yes, I’m a little irrate. Thanks for noticing….

  3. There are so many great things about this film (my favourite being the moment where he sees the supermarket and Live and Let Die kicks in). There are a few things I wish they’d fix but thats completely outweighed by the good stuff.

  4. For me, this is quintessential Cusak – nothing before or after can quite capture what this film did.

    I’m off to listen to the podcast, but wanted to say I really like the new post layout with story analysis & ratings – just a quick blurb to entice moving onto the podcast for those of us who missed the actual viewing. Very nice.

  5. Ok, I’m back – and word up to Mollie’s fresh perspective. 🙂

    I’m Team Jenny on this one – 5s across the board.

    Structure – I think the chaos of all the past events coupled with the current ones is necessary to buy immediately into Martin’s dilemma. He’s good at his job, but he’s tired of it and wants something… more. And seriously, who among us hasn’t been there? It also works in contrast to the more idyllic (albeit false) security of Martin’s home town. And it keeps the pace rolling for the…

    Comedy – Just the absurdity of the set up – hitman goes to his 10th high school reunion and reconnects with an old flame. So many treatments of this would have focused on the romance and forgotten about the hitman element until they needed something to go wrong in the third act. Jenny is absolutely correct in that GPB works because they never forget or lose sight of the bald fact that Martin is a hitman. So very important. I can’t think of anyone but Cusak who could have pulled this off and remained charming and witty and kept the audience on his side.

    Romance – I’m not a big Minnie Driver fan. I don’t mind her in character but there’s something so… smug about the actress that makes me not seek her films out on purpose. Having said that, I think she’s fabulous in this role. Debbie is a challenge to Martin, something he desperately wants but hasn’t quite figured out how to get. The fascination is clear from both sides. I totally buy the relationship evolution and HEA. I also believe they are meeting as adults who share the common ground of the past. She knows his backstory, she’s lived it. It allows the film to focus on the more important “what Martin does now for a living” aspect and how they can reconcile their feelings within those parameters.

    GPB just hits all the right notes. For me, at any rate. 😉

    I can’t wait to see what ya’ll think of RED, even though it isn’t going to be part of the February line up.

    Oh and Krissie is TOTALLY right about Shane at the beginning of Agnes. HOT.

  6. LOL on Krissie. I’ll pass the word along.
    I really rank GPB up there with Moonstruck and It Happened One Night as one of those stories you just look at in awe at how beautifully everything is done without any seams showing. Another thing I like about it: you get a deeper movie every time you watch it because you have more layers to peel back each time.

  7. I’m with Jenny. I think this just hits all the right notes all along the way. And I think Minnie Driver and Cusack have palpable chemistry. I actually turned to my sister while we were watching this together and SAID, “My God, they have great chemistry.”

    I’d seen this before and liked it, but now, looking at it with a more analytic eye I think it gets even better.

    And for an interesting point of contrast I watched Killers with Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl almost right after. My God, polar opposites. Killers very much has the thing Lucy was talking about, the “oh, isn’t it funny that he’s a killer.” I did like Killers ok, but it is not remotely in the same league as GPB.

    Really looking forward to the Hitmen in Love segment, now, though. 🙂

  8. I loved the movie. So many great characters and wonderful actors. That said, I think I fall somewhere in between both parties. I think I have a bit of trouble with the hitman trope – although like Lucy I didn’t have trouble with Agnes and Shane. And I don’t think my difficulty was with Minnie Driver herself. I loved her in The Riches. I think it’s just that in the end I thought the comedy was better than the romance. It definitely gets great points for the romance structure but I didn’t get the full warm fuzzy feeling at the end – but of course that could be the hitman trope, too. I’ll wait and see how the others work for me.

  9. I’m listening to the end of the podcast and the discussion about whether Debbie & Martin would have survived as a couple, whether she was too cold or too drawn to his dark side, whether Martin needs a bit more softness and light to balance his darkness.

    I’d never thought about it. But I looked back at the movie with everybody’s commentary in mind. There at the end, she says “Didn’t anybody ever tell you it was WRONG?”

    With that, for me, everything snapped into place. Martin will always have a dark side, absolutely. He doesn’t want to kill people any more but there will always be that darkness. Debbie is his moral compass, and in order for her to be that, she has to see and understand and accept his darkness. When he kills for HER (which he does — he saves her father because of Debbie, not because of her father’s worth or lack thereof, and in so doing, has to kill all the other hitmen to defend Debbie’s life & incidentally her father’s), she has to accept some of his darkness into her own soul. A softer heroine would have buckled under that; Debbie can accept it without losing the essence of who she is. So I see her as his touchstone, the person who shows him where to go now that he’s leaving killing behind, and the person who can keep him grounded if he starts to drift back.

    Plus, you know, he’s hot. Grin.

    And I just realized (because sometimes I’m slow), Alan Arkin played John Cusack’s “therapist” in America’s Sweethearts, too.

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