Let's face it, high school reunion films are a dime a dozen. The Ultimart nearest the Hideaway has a bin of such titles at that exact price. Grosse Pointe Blank is one of the good ones, worth infinitely more than whatever you have to pay to view it.
The movie is dark and funny, cold and romantic. Most of that is due to John Cusack's portrayal of the title character - he is Martin Blank. Dan Ackroyd, Alan Arkin, Minnie Driver and John's sis, Joan, round out the cast. The 1997 film is rated R for strong violence, language and drug content. HERC recommends it fully and without reservation.
Clash-man Joe Strummer composed the film's score and is often mistakenly credited for putting together the soundtrack. Music supervisor Kathy Nelson deserves credit for assembling the songs on the soundtrack with more than a little help from music-fan Cusack himself. The thirteen cut soundtrack album was released ahead of the film in March 1997. As with any high school reunion movie, there are songs included from the original high school period (1982-1986 in this case) but instead of going with the hits, less popular songs were chosen.
Violent Femmes pull double-duty by bookending the soundtrack album with their seminal (hehe) 1983 hit "Blister In The Sun". While the original version opens the album, a pointless update entitled "Blister 2000" closes it out twelve tracks later. If you are a fan of the song, HERC dares you to listen to "Blister 2000" - he has only listened to it twice in 16 years and that is twice too many.
Although some fans would argue that Guns N Roses cover of "Live And Let Die" doesn't fit the film's timeline, HERC thinks it is a theme song of sorts for the Martin Blank character and part of the rationalization of his job. The bombastic, over-the-top production fits Axl Rose's maniacal vocals oh so well.
The first song heard in the movie is Johnny Nash's eternally optimistic "I Can See Clearly Now". The reggae tone set by the song gives way to ska as the movie continues with riddim tracks by The Clash, The Specials and The English Beat.
Grosse Pointe Blank - Music From The Film sold surprisingly well, eventually ending up at #31 on Billboard's Top 200 and spawning a second soundtrack album in October 1997 featuring twelve more of the almost 40 songs on the film's soundtrack: Grosse Pointe Blank - More Music From The Film.
Years before it appeared on the soundtracks of Gia, The Girl Next Door and Donnie Darko, Echo & the Bunnymen's "The Killing Moon" appeared ever so briefly in Grosse Pointe Blank. The song has been a constant on HERC's Halloween mixes since it's release in 1984, too.
Another HERC's Halloween mix favorite that also appears on the soundtrack to Grosse Pointe Blank is the Siouxsie & the Banshees gem "Cities In Dust" (above). Another creepy-sounding song from the soundtrack is "Monkey Gone To Heaven" by Pixies (below).
If HERC were only allowed to choose one disc to listen to it would be the second disc as it features a wider selection of genres, including early rap ("White Lines [Don't Do It]") and Eighties funk ("Let It Whip"). And it doesn't have that abomination of "Blister In The Sun" nor the E Cola mix of Pete Townshend's catchy "Let My Love Open The Door". Fortunately, HERC doesn't have to choose - he rolled all the songs into one big Spotify playlist below. Is it complete? No. Give it a listen and let HERC know what you like or don't like about it.