Why Grosse Pointe Blank is John Cusack’s Best Rom-Com

Apr 17, 2023

Back in the ’80s and ’90s, romantic comedy and John Cusack were basically interchangeable terms. Sure, Say Anything is iconic, and High Fidelity really makes you wish you had cooler taste in music, but Grosse Pointe Blank is truly a unique film that deserves to sit on the top of the list. We’re not saying that standing outside your crush’s house with a boombox blasting Peter Gabriel isn’t a total power move, but Martin Blank is just too great of a character to come second to anybody, and we’re here to talk about it.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that Grosse Pointe Blank transcends the status quo of your typical rom-com. It’s violent, it’s simultaneously hilarious and tragic, and Martin Blank is just such a cool character, that you root for him even though he’s killing a lot of people on and off-screen. Think of Grosse Pointe Blank as John Wick Meets Say Anything. If it’s flown under your radar up to this point, then we strongly suggest you give it a look!

Related: 10 Best Romantic Comedies Directed by Women You Shouldn’t Skip

Not Your Typical Outsider Story

Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

A typical trope in the world of rom-coms is that the protagonist is often an outsider, or at the very least, very low on the social totem pole. This is not the case in Grosse Pointe Blank, however. Martin Blank’s odyssey is a fascinating one in this film, because when he returns to Grosse Pointe, it’s evident that he was sorely missed by his friends and family when he mysteriously disappeared after a nervous breakdown of sorts. He left behind his entire life, including his girlfriend, Debi (on prom night of all nights), to enlist in the Army. When he returns to Grosse Pointe for his 10-year high school reunion, his closest friend, Paul (Jeremy Piven), goes off on him, famously asking, “TEN YEARS, MAN! TEN! Where have you been for ten years?” To which, Blank bluntly replies, “I freaked out, joined the army, went into business for myself. I’m a professional killer.”

Not only is this an excellent form of verbal exposition, but it gets the viewer up to speed without wasting a lot of time. Yes, Martin Blank maybe felt like an outsider, and had to make a drastic change in his life when he first left his hometown, but he was by no means an outcast; his turmoil came from somewhere inside himself and was not driven by outside influence. And it’s evident that he’s experiencing a different kind of occupational turmoil (more on that later) 10 years later, which prompts him to perform a hit in his hometown the same weekend as his high school reunion.

Explores the Finer Points of Mercenary Unions

Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

The B plot to Grosse Point Blank dives into the occupational politics involved in being a mercenary. The reason Blank loved his career choice so much was that he could work alone, set his own hours, and do his own thing without being bothered, so long as he made good on his client’s assignments. The primary source of tension in this plot line is that he’s approached by Grocer, a competing killer, to join his union. In 2023, this plot line sounds an awful lot like somebody who found a great work/life balance by working from home, but then suddenly gets called back to work in the office to do the same job.

This point (or Pointe?) is made very clear in the final shootout between Grocer (Dan Ackroyd) and Blank; between gratuitous rounds being unloaded in Debi’s (Minnie Driver) kitchen, Blank is asked by Groser to consider joining the union once again as a form of peace offering. Blank thinks about it for a second as he’s reloading his weapon while hiding behind the kitchen island, and asks, “this union, is there gonna be meetings?” Grocer replies, “of course,” which prompts Blank to say, “no meetings” before jumping out from hiding and continuing to unload his gun in Groser’s direction. Blank drives the point home by killing Grocer with a TV set before proposing to Debi.

Hilariously Violent

It wouldn’t be a romantic comedy about a mercenary trying to rekindle his relationship with his old flame if there weren’t a few casualties along the way, would it? One of the best parts about this movie is how over-the-top the violence is; all while witty banter is being exchanged back and forth. This kind of violence works in Grosse Pointe Blank because the victims of such violence are more often than not truly terrible people, so it’s easy to suspend some disbelief, and laugh at their expense when an assassination attempt is completely botched.

Related: Every Joan and John Cusack Movie Collaboration, Ranked

Cusack’s Pen Murder at the Prom Would Even Make John Wick Giddy

Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

That’s right… before John Wick ever killed anybody with a pencil (three men, we hear), John Cusack’s Martin Blank fought off an assassin at his high school reunion, and killed him by jamming a pen into his neck. He then drags him downstairs to the school’s boiler room to incinerate the body, all to the tune of “Mirror in the Bathroom,” by The English Beat. We just wanted to remind you that this is a rom-com.

“Killer” Soundtrack

Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Not only was the film score for Grosse Pointe Blank composed by Joe Strummer of The Clash Fame, the soundtrack also features two of his band’s songs: “Rudie Can’t Fail,” and “Armagideon Time.” Aside from all things Clash, the rest of the soundtrack is a great mix of ’80s New Wave that’s reminiscent of Cusack’s earlier rom-coms (no Peter Gabriel though, sorry!), and more contemporary alternative and punk rock from the time. The soundtrack includes, but is not limited to: English Beat, Violent Femmes, Faith no More, Guns N’ Roses, and David Bowie and Queen’s “Under Pressure.” For a 1997 movie that’s about a 1987 graduating class, Grosse Pointe Blank expertly blends nostalgia with what’s hip to the times.

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