Grosse Pointe Blank

GROSSE POINTE BLANK (Popped Culture: Radio Goes to the Movies) - CLICK TO ENLARGE

As part of “Popped Culture: Radio Goes to the Movies,” a free series of noteworthy motion pictures that feature radio as a key element, on Saturday, March 10th, 8pm at the Isla Vista Theater, KCSB presents George Armitage’s subversive black comedy, Grosse Pointe Blank.

KCSB’s public showing of this cult classic from the late 1990s coincides with this week’s announcement of UCSB Arts & Lectures’ “Evening with John Cusack” at Campbell Hall on Wednesday, May 16th (tickets go on sale on Friday, March 9th at 10am). Among other door prizes, a pair of free passes for the A&L Cusack event will likely be given away during KCSB’s special March 10th Grosse Pointe Blank presentation.

About Grosse Pointe Blank: if rock-solid John Cusack-character Lloyd Dobler panicked, ran off, and joined the military, instead of serenading Diane Court (Ione Skye) during that famous boom box scene in Say Anything, you might end up with hired assassin Martin Q. Blank, Cusack’s title character in Grosse Pointe Blank.

Ten-years removed from abandoning his high-school girlfriend (Minnie Driver) on senior-prom night, Blank is also wracked with guilt over his chosen profession (not nearly as glamorous a life as James Bond’s “license to kill” might suggest). Besieged by professional competitors (including Dan Aykroyd‘s hilarious co-starring role) and N.S.A. special agents (including Hank Azaria), Blank is inspired by his aggrieved shrink (Little Miss Sunshine’s Alan Arkin) to abandon that career and win back the girl. Sent on a final mission to his hometown of Grosse Pointe, Michigan, he is, coincidentally enough, reluctantly drawn into the ten-year high-school reunion of Grosse Pointe High School’s Class of ’86. Many surprises ensue, while strong and funny supporting performances by Entourage’s Jeremy Piven and sister Joan Cusack round out the film.

Entertainment Weekly critic Lisa Schwarzbaum praises Grosse Pointe Blank, which is “directed at a trust-smart-viewers pace by George Armitage (Miami Blues), [and]… buoyed aloft in its warped universe of as-seen-on-TV violence and late-Gen-X irony with an unusually keen-witted script by novice screenwriters Steve Pink, D.V. DeVincentis, Tom Jankiewicz, and John Cusack” (also Grosse Pointe Blank’s co-executive producer).

A deft mix of romantic comedy, satiric bite, and exhilarating action sequences, the film is further propelled by an “all-eighties, all-vinyl weekend,” dedicated to Grosse Pointe High alumni, as spun by Driver’s disc-jockey character, Debi Newbury. In fact, Grosse Pointe Blank’s popular soundtrack was scored and compiled by the music-loving Cusack’s late friend Joe Strummer, of The Clash, and also features tracks by The Violent Femmes, The Specials, Johnny Nash, The Jam, Guns N’Roses, David Bowie and Queen, The English Beat, Echo and the Bunnymen, Tones on Tail, and much more.

At this free public screening of Grosse Point Blank on March 10th, there will be a “Cusack Muzak” mix spun by KCSB DJ Darla Bea (“Rock It Properly“), a slideshow, trivia, and trailers of coming attractions. Doors will open at 7:30 and showtime is 8pm.

“Popped Culture” is part of a year-long series of on-air programs and special events that mark KCSB’s Golden Anniversary celebrating 50 Years of People-Powered Radio.