Combustible Celluloid
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With: John Cusack, Minnie Driver, Dan Aykroyd, Jeremy Piven, Joan Cusack, Alan Arkin, Hank Azaria, K. Todd Freeman, Mitch Ryan, Jenna Elfman
Written by: John Cusack, D.V. DeVincentis, Steve Pink, Tom Jankiewicz, based on a story by Tom Jankiewicz
Directed by: George Armitage
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, language and some drug content
Running Time: 107
Date: 04/11/1997

Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Blisters in the Sun

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This action-comedy may have been inspired by Pulp Fiction (there's a poster for the video release in a convenience store), but it very quickly takes on a life of its own.

John Cusack and his writing partners D.V. DeVincentis and Steve Pink took a story by Tom Jankiewicz and turned it into an incredibly hip look at growing up, as seen through the twisted spectrum of the 10th high school reunion.

Martin Blank (Cusack) became a hired hitman directly out of high school, leaving behind all his friends, and especially his prom date, Debi (Minnie Driver). When a job brings him back to Grosse Pointe, Michigan, he finds that a flame still exists between himself and Debi.

The writers and director George Armitage spread around sparkling dialogue like candy so that nearly every actor -- Joan Cusack, Dan Aykroyd, Alan Arkin, Jeremy Piven, etc. -- has a standout scene. And Armitage (Miami Blues, The Big Bounce) is especially good at staging exciting action sequences.

But Cusack the romantic keeps the heart of his movie between Martin and Debi, whose banter slowly subsides into genuine love pangs. The reunion milieu also allows for a neat collection of 1980s pop music, and two soundtrack albums were released.

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