Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Better Off Dead (1985) and Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)

Another double feature here on This Mortal Coil. I figured that since both of these flicks are pretty well known and appreciated, I would split the screen time and post them both at once. Besides, they're almost the same movie, right? As Spencer pointed out (he gets tiffy when I don't cite him), John Cusack inevitably plays exactly the same character (himself) in every movie that he does, merely in different situations and at different stages of adolescence. Take Better Off Dead for example: we meet Cusack at a particularly angsty part of his life (quite superbly captured I might add) where everything seems absurd, even supernaturally animated, and the most ridiculous things happen (oh teenagers...blowing everything [out of proportion]!). What causes the grief and misery and irreconcilable losses for our young stud?: why a dudette of course! Even his little brother gets more tail than he does! In Grosse Pointe Blank we receive the same ridiculosity (John Cusack as a paid assassin who disappears from his hometown of Grosse Pointe on the night of prom only to return 10 years later for a high school reunion? Are you kidding me?: there's no way Cusack goes to reunions!), and, of course, the same central issue: a woman (this time it's Minnie Driver [a woman after my own heart: prepared {and unscared} for the apocalypse {what in the world is she storing in her cheeks?}]). Other points of absurdity include our little memphis Minnie as a round-the-clock radio DJ who consistently talks about her own life (like anybody cares; what is this, her personal therapy session [they should have totally pulled a Wet Hot]?), Dan Aykroyd as a rival hit-man, and the fact that four Cusack spawn are in the feature. Ahhh!!!(They're totally the gothic Baldwins!)!!! And where in Dead Johnnie proclaims his desperation by attempting to kill himself and his masculinity by skiing the deadliest slope, in Blank he threatens a shrink into seeing him and stabs a man in the jugular with a gifted pen. Ahh, maturity. Overall, I definitely prefer Better Off Dead over Grosse Pointe Blank: I'm sorry, but Aykroyd just can't tip the scale (and not because he's balding). And the guest appearances by Hank Azaria, Jeremy Piven and Jenna Elfman, while entertaining, mostly end up just being douchey (definitely Piven's fault). Also representing the extent of Cusack's ego-rific progress (and no, not the waffle) is a soundtrack clearly picked off his favorite mixed CD and a ton of inside jokes. On the other hand, Better Off Dead manages to retain its magic realism, classic jokes, "great" outfits, ridiculous stereotypes and basically everything that defined adolescent existence in the mid-80's. And, let's face it, no amount of Bond moves or deafened video-game playing shopkeeps and shattered glass can top that.

I deem these films: "Decadently angst-ridden and deliciously morbid!"