Gen X films focus on high school reunions

by Heather Morales
Staff Writer

Ever wonder what it would be like to attend a 10-year high school reunion? Well, Hollywood decided to make a new genre of Generation X films and took the reunion to the extreme with “Grosse Pointe Blank” and “Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion.”

While “Grosse Pointe Blank” focuses on the “I need to make amends” theme, “Romy and Michelle” is about the “we need to go back and impress all those people who thought we would never amount to anything” theme of reunions.

Both are thoroughly entertaining films, but the screenplay for “Grosse Pointe Blank” by Steve Pink, D.V. DeVincentis, Tom Jankiewicz and John Cusack is superior.

A disengaged hit man going back to his 10-year high school reunion in Grosse Pointe, Mich., was, at first, hard to grasp, but Cusack (“Say Anything,” “The Grifters”) makes the audience believe in Martin Blank and wants him to get his life together and get the girl.

The girl is Minnie Driver (“Circle of Friends,” “Sleepers”) and she is the jilted girlfriend, Debi, who Martin stood up on prom night 10 years earlier. Everyone, including Debi, gave him up for dead and was surprised to see that he had come home for the Pointes High reunion.

The reunion with Debi is also thoroughly humiliating as she publicly embarrasses him on the air of her radio show for all of Grosse Pointe to hear.

The dark humor from director George Armitage is reminiscent of “Pulp Fiction.” There is even a reference to “Pulp Fiction” with a cardboard cut-out in one of the scenes.

Believing Cusack as a hired killer is tough to swallow at first because he has a light hearted attitude throughout the film.

Not the typical reunion story, “Grosse Pointe Blank” makes everyone the audience wish their high school reunion could be so cool.

“Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion,” directed by David Merkin, is predictable. Two loners in high school graduate, move to Los Angeles, gain a better fashion sense, are still trying to find the perfect men, spend 10 years searching for the perfect jobs and then realize, after they receive information regarding their 10-year high school reunion, that their lives are not what they thought they would be.

The only reason they wanted to go back to Sagebrush High in Tucson, Ariz., in the first place, was to impress the “A-group,” a clique of popular girls that made a point of making Romy (Mira Sorvino) and Michelle’s (Lisa Kudrow) lives a living hell in high school.

After spending two weeks looking for boyfriends, and the unemployed Michelle looking for a glamourous job, they decide that they would fake exciting lives to impress everyone back home.

It is the classic “revenge of the nerds” story and it was evident from the beginning of the film. Sorvino and Kudrow play such complete airheads in the film that they are funny although there are parts where the ditzyness is too much and not entertaining at all.

The best part of the film is where the biggest nerd from their class Sandy (Alan Cumming), who had a crush on Michelle in high school, shows up in a helicopter, has made a fortune inventing a special rubber for tennis shoes and becomes Romy and Michelle’s knight in shining armor.

Based on her play “Ladies’ Room,” Robin Schiff adapted the play for the screen but should have left Romy and Michelle in the ladies room. As a film, it is barely passable and leaves the audience wondering if there really are people that clueless out there.

“Romy and Michelle” does have its ups and downs, but overall, “Grosse Pointe Blank” is the better film.

Making both films even better are the soundtracks. Both feature some of the greatest hits of the ’80s, from “Footloose” to the Violent Femmes and the Specials.

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