Grosse Pointe Blank

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Details At A Glance

Category Comedy/Action Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1997 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 103:01 minutes  Other Extras None
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 2,4 Director George Armitage

Warner Home Video
Starring John Cusack
Minnie Driver
Alan Arkin
Dan Aykroyd
Joan Cusack
Alan Arkin
Case Amaray
RRP $34.95 Music Joe Strummer
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision ? Smoking Yes
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement Amusing placement of Doom II. Otherwise, no.
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    I'd never go to a ten-year high school reunion simply because I didn't stick around long enough to either finish or to have anyone from there actually remember me in spite of my psychotic behaviour. Martin Q. Blank (John Cusack), on the other hand, made himself very memorable by standing up his prom night date Debi Newberry (Minnie Driver) and disappearing for ten years. He has filled in the time by hiring out his services as a mercenary, a profession that has him requiring the services of a psychiatrist by the name of Oatman (Alan Arkin), who advises him to take time off and spend a few days without killing anyone. Sadly (and quite naturally), he has a slight problem with that, as he is being harassed by Grocer (Dan Aykroyd) to join a union of professional killers. Naturally, Martin is a solitary creature in a professional context, and is happy to perform his services with only the aid of Marcella (Joan Cusack), his secretary. One assignment which Grocer was negotiating is stolen out from under him by Blank, presumably because Blank's non-union services would be cheaper, and this leads to Grocer sending assassins after Blank. This results in one of the funniest, albeit most unbelievable, sequences involving innocent bystanders in a gunfight at a slightly later point in the film. Meanwhile, Blank follows his rather reluctant psychiatrist's advice and returns to his home town of Grosse Pointe, which is coincidentally the location of the aforementioned assignment, which Blank intends to be his last.

    Grosse Pointe Blank works for me as a black comedy because of the attention to detail that was paid in the process of character development. I certainly can relate to Martin as a man caught in a profession which he would sorely like to escape in spite of how it pursues him. The cameos by such actors as Hank Azaria and Benny Urqiduez (a martial arts action star, he plays Felix La PuBelle, the man Martin stabs in the neck with a pen) do a good job of filling out the population of the film. Incidentally, the fight between Felix and Martin is ranked second out of the twenty best fight scenes listed by Ralph magazine (in an issue that came out long before audiences experienced the three-way saber duel in The Phantom Menace, but it's still a respectable list). The comedy element of this film is very subtle, and the unkind would say very weak, but overall the film works well as twisted entertainment. It's not the sort of film you can watch every day, but it's a good one to invite the friends or workmates over to view with you for a few laughs.

Transfer Quality


    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, complete with 16x9 enhancement, which leads me to ask the following rather troubling question: If the hokey little substudios who cannot afford to be distributed by anyone better than Warner Home Video can do this trick, why can't Universal do it on important titles like The Thing and Hard Target? Anyway, I am getting very sick of this presentation of 1.85:1 films at this 1.78:1 ratio, especially when the packaging states the transfer to be at the ratio of 1.85:1, which would be easier on the compression, anyway. The transfer was very sharp, and very clear in spite of how dark it was in a lot of places. Shadow detail was generally good, although there are moments when it is lacking. The scene in which one of Martin's old teachers comments on his tie is supposed to be a joke based on the fact that the tie, like the rest of his attire, is pitch-black. Because I haven't seen the original theatrical presentation of this film, I cannot say for certain if this is a deliberate artistic choice. If my memory services me correctly, the tie in question was a dark shade of red that could easily have blended with the rest of the character's suit in low lighting. There was no low-level noise at any time during the film.

    The colour saturation was mostly spot-on, with vivid greens and browns completing the picture of Grosse Pointe's moderately urban, relaxed environment, and relaxing atmosphere quite nicely. Sadly, a few brief shots exhibited some colour bleeding, but these passed by so quickly as to be of no effect on the overall rating of the transfer, in my mind at least. MPEG artefacts were completely absent from the film, which is certainly a credit to the authors when you consider the amount of stress having over a hundred minutes of action film on one layer would place on the compression. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some aliasing on some car chrome and grilles, but nothing you wouldn't normally expect from a Warner Brothers sub-studio release. Film artefacts consisted of some white flecks on the negative, but these were very very minor and very occasional, thus unobtrusive.

    The English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles contain only the occasional reference to who is actually speaking at any one time, which makes them pretty damned useless in some sequences.


    Three audio tracks are provided on this DVD: the original English dialogue in Dolby Digital 5.1, an uncredited French dub in Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround, and an Italian dub in Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround. Because my skills with the other two languages are either poor or non-existent, I listened to the default English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Annoyingly, this release continues a fine and annoying tradition from the DVDs that Warner Home Video are distributing on the behalf of the smaller studios: the audio track cannot be changed on the fly, and this must be done via the main menu. This makes it somewhat annoying to verify the presence of audio dubs, and pushing the Audio button a few times is much easier than navigating that damned menu. Dialogue was generally clear and easy to understand, but there were some times when it was a little soft and thus slightly hard to make out over the ambient sounds from time to time. There were no apparent audio sync problems at any point when the dialogue didn't suffer from this problem (which is inherent in the film itself, from what I understood).

    The score music is credited to Joe Strummer, but very little of the audible music is actually his work. Most of the music is provided by musicians from the 1980s, most of whom were probably doing so under contractual obligation. All of the music was very well-suited to the on-screen action, creating an appropriate feel of black irony. Strummer's score music failed the basic test of connection to the onscreen action, but the contemporary music passed it with flying colours. The use of Motörhead's Ace Of Spades during the convenience-store battle would have been a nicer touch if the song had been kept at a constant level and used continuously, as it is a great song which Triple M would do well to listen to and get an idea of what actual driving music sounds like.

    The surround presence was almost non-existent except during action sequences, where gunshots and whizzing bullets were placed nicely within a wide field. The subwoofer was used lightly to support the action sequences and music. Fundamentally, this is one of those Dolby Digital 5.1 remixes that revert to mono when the action sequences end.


    Mute studio brains end in silence, extras tainted with absence. Empty sections of supplements, buried deep in Warner's clout. (Isn't poetically saying "no extras" a lot of fun?)


    A rather ugly-looking menu containing modified stills from the film and the cover art. At least the scene selection menu is comprehensive and easy to navigate.

R4 vs R1

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;     The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;     Absence of 16x9 Enhancement. Need I say more?


    Grosse Pointe Blank is a good movie presented on a good disc, complete with one of the best fight scenes ever captured on film.

    The video quality is quite good.

    The audio quality is sporadic, but good enough overall.

    Extras? From one of the smaller studios that Warners distribute?

Ratings (out of 5)

© Dean McIntosh (my bio sucks... read it anyway)
March 29, 2000
Review Equipment
DVD Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output
Display Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm), 16:9 mode/4:3 mode, using composite and S-video inputs
Audio Decoder Built In (Amplifier)
Amplification Sony STR-DE835
Speakers Panasonic S-J1500D Front Speakers, Sharp CP-303A Back Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Subwoofer