Grosse Pointe Blank
In this very funny dark comedy, John Cusack finds himself in a typically '90s comedy situation, but with a twist: Caught in a late-20s, post-adolescent malaise, he returns home for his 10-year high-school reunion and encounters his ex-girlfriend and other symbols of his lost youth. But, unlike the inhabitants of similarly themed films, he's stuck with the peculiar problem of explaining to his classmates his disappearance shortly before the senior prom, an event that eventually led to a successful career as a hired killer. Grosse Pointe Blank is smart in a rare way that matters greatly to good contemporary comedy: Like last year's Flirting With Disaster, its script and direction underplay absurd situations, letting its characters amuse without showing the strains of forced wackiness. One of the best results of this approach is a number of fine comic turns from Cusack and a strong supporting cast (Minnie Driver, Adam Arkin, Jeremy Piven and Joan Cusack). That it performs the small miracle of allowing Dan Aykroyd to be funny for the first time in over a decadehis chummy/tense encounters with rival Cusack should be studied as examples of good comic timingis probably all that needs to be said.