Quick pick: ‘Grosse Pointe Blank’ on Netflix

John Cusack and Minnie Driver star in the 1997 black comedy directed by George Armitage

If Grosse Pointe Blank (1997) was just another comedy in the wave of 80s nostalgia, then John Cusack is the kid who grew up to be Oliver North… which should tell you that this film has a dark streak to it. Cusack is a former military assassin gone independent who is now experiencing an early mid-life crisis, so he hits his high school reunion and confronts the sweetheart (the delightful Minnie Driver) he abandoned for a life of human target shooting.

Director George Armitage (who made the underrated Miami Blues) gets the mix of wry humor and edgy violence dead on, and co-writer/co-producer Cusack’s cocked-grin charm and earnest determination tells us not to take it all too seriously without sinking his character into farce. Cusack’s sister Joan almost steals the film in a few brief scenes as his deliriously sunny but ruthlessly efficient secretary and Alan Arkin is at his understated best as a reluctant shrink offering such sage advice as: “Don’t kill anybody for a while.” A darkly humorous examination of 80s values cum 90s professions. Dan Aykroyd, Joan Cusack, Hank Azaria, and Jeremy Piven co-star and it features a lively soundtrack of 1980s hits.

Rated R

Queue it up!

Also on disc and SVOD through Amazon Video and other services. Availability may vary by service.
Grosse Pointe Blank [DVD]
Grosse Pointe Blank (15th Anniversary Edition) [Blu-ray]

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About Sean Axmaker

Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. He writes the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website, and his work appears in Vulture, Turner Classic Movies online, Keyframe, and Parallax View.

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