Let’s look at the joke in the title. We have the idea of sleepy all-American town Grosse Point. We have the idea of John Boorman’s Point Blank. And in between we have a comedy about a hitman going to his high school reunion. Oh and the hitman is called Martin Blank. It isn’t really a joke at all, but it feels like one. And ladies and gentlemen, that is exactly how to describe Grosse Point Blank. It looks and feels like it should be really funny, but actually it isn’t.

This is not a criticism. Sure it is probably harder to make a really funny film, but there are plenty of funny films out there which don’t look or feel funny (sift through Death Becomes Her – it is very, very funny in places but the whole does not gel). And it is not as if the film coasts on just one likeable star performance, though John Cusack does this stuff with magical aplomb. Instead there is a scenario which on paper seems to be funny: a hitman at his high-school reunion. But when you think of all the obvious jokes, only one comes out. He kills people. And that stops being funny pretty quickly. So instead we use a Woody Allen lite persona for Cusack, rope in a jilted ex-girlfriend who is nice but nothing special (ah Minnie Driver, what a strange career she had in the late nineties) and some associated nonsense which involves property destruction.

Grosse Point Blank was part of the High School Reunion/nostalgic eighties film cycle of 1997. It is the indiest of the films compared to the funnier but dumber Romy & Michelle’s High School Reunion and much more formulaic The Wedding Singer. Indie as in indie film ethic, indie as in the music it leans on is much more punk and new wave. It rewrites small town history to be something cooler, just as Cusack is cool so was the music he liked before he became a hit man. But then Grosse Point Blank is all about ignore the uncomfortable – it really is not black enough for a hitman comedy. But then there really aren’t enough jokes for a comedy. That’s not say it isn’t fun. It just isn’t all that funny.

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