by Theo Sloan
March 29, 2021
Some movies last the test of time. Included in this group is the excellent 1997 action comedy Grosse Pointe Blank starring John Cusack and Minnie Driver. In my review of Grosse Pointe Blank, I’ll be trying out a slightly different format: instead of discussing the movie’s good and then bad points, I’ll give a score out of five to several categories and end with a final score for the movie. Without further ado, let’s get into the review.
Part I: The Performances
I think one of the most important parts of a movie is the acting. An otherwise good movie can be ruined by an awkward or unbelievable performance, and an otherwise unimpressive movie can be carried by one or two fantastic, compelling performances. Fortunately, all the actors in Grosse Pointe Blank give it their all. The obvious standout is John Cusack, who gives a hilarious, entertaining, and oddly compelling performance as an emotionally challenged professional hitman. At the beginning of the movie, he’s both amusing and charming, but by the end, he’s jaw-droppingly hilarious. While he’s not nearly as good when he’s trying to be dramatic and serious, he’s still good enough to make his character reasonably believable. Minnie Driver also does a great job. Although she’s not given too much to work with character-wise besides a sassier-than-usual generic love interest, she plays that trope really well and adds to it some interesting spice and flavor. Driver’s chemistry with Cusack is an essential component of this movie. It’s hard to criticize these two performances; all I have to say is that Cusack probably could have done a better job with a few of his more emotional, serious scenes, though that’s not a very large issue in the grand scheme of things. 4.5/5
Part II: The Comedy
Grosse Pointe Blank knocks the comedy out of the park. It has some incredible jokes, especially near the end. In fact, the last ten minutes of the movie contain some of the best comedy I’ve seen in any movie ever. There’s plenty of witty dialogue; the gags and quips are funny, and the fantastic relationship between Cusack and Driver makes the comedy work even better. The main antagonist is also extremely funny at times, and he plays off Cusack really well. The cherry on top is easily the soundtrack (more on that later), which seems to have a sense of humor of its own. The song choices work incredibly well and almost always make an already entertaining scene or moment even funnier. The comedy is easily this movie’s strongest asset, and I would change nothing about it. 5/5
Part III: The Action
When the action in this movie is good, it’s really good. Just as with the comedy, the last ten minutes has easily the strongest action sequence. There are some other entertaining bursts of action throughout the movie; however, much of the action near the beginning is just not nearly as entertaining or fun to watch as the stuff near the end. In particular, there’s a fight scene in a convenience store that, while funny, is a bit sloppily choreographed, and I feel that both the setup and the aftermath of the fight are far more entertaining than the actual sequence. A fight in the school hallway falls in between those two extremes: it’s much better than the convenience store sequence but still doesn’t quite live up to the final ten minutes of the film. I don’t dislike any of the action, but a few sequences here and there fall flat. 3.5/5
Part IV: The Plot
This movie follows the basic storyline of John Cusack playing a professional hitman, attending a high school reunion, and hijinks ensue from there. It’s an original idea and executed well. The plot has a pretty good flow to it, and the type of humor employed complements the wacky storyline well. However, I do have to mention a couple plot holes here. The main issue I have is that there are several times when people get shot at repeatedly but miraculously never get hit or injured. There’s a particularly egregious example of this about halfway through the movie, but it’s an issue that pops up several times, and it’s always a bit distracting. Aside from those unfortunate mistakes, the plot’s great. 4/5
Part V: The Score and Soundtrack
This movie’s score is completely unremarkable. It’s a perfectly acceptable, very passable action movie score that does nothing for me. But beyond the score itself, the rest of the soundtrack is a completely different story. It’s absolutely fantastic. It’s a great mix of pop, rock, and punk from the 60s, 70s, and 80s, and it complements the movie so well. Some of the absolute standouts are Blister in the Sun by The Violent Femmes, I Can See Clearly Now (The Rain Has Gone) by Johnny Nash, and 99 Luftballons by Nena, though there are many, many other excellent songs on there, all expertly used to complement the movie. The score, a two by itself, is saved by the soundtrack. 5/5
Part VI: Final Thoughts
I really like Grosse Pointe Blank, and I highly recommend giving it a watch, especially if you’re a fan of action comedies, because it’s hard to get much better than this. Although Grosse Pointe Blank does have its flaws, it’s a great movie with some great characters and some amazing jokes. I’m giving this movie a very strong 8.6/10.