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Sure, Say Anything About Grosse Point Blank

Bored of the current crop of superhero franchises I’ve decided to create my own trilogy narrative using older films starring the same actor.  It brings a whole new light to those 80/90’s classics cluttering up my hard drive.  The premise is a simple one.  The actors that were making teen films or goofy comedies in the 80’ and 90’s are still making films and have done for the best part of 30 years.  The roles have matured and, in some cases, so have the performances but its easy to thread a new narrative into these films simply by imagining that actor is playing the same role in the three separate films.  A bit of creative thinking to fill in the gaps and hey presto you have yourself a new trilogy.  I’ve started with John Cusack but I’m pretty confident this will work for the vast majority.  

What I’ve ended up with is the “Sure, Say Anything about Grosse Pointe Blank” trilogy:

Part One:  The Sure Thing (1985) 

High School buddies Walter Gibson (John Cusak) and Lance (Anthony Edwards) are about to embark on college life, however there’s a problem, Walter worries that he has lost touch with women. While Lance enjoys life at UCLA, Walter’s move to New England has not yielded any success with the ladies.  Even his attempt to engineer a relationship with Alison Bradbury (Daphne Zuniga) by tricking her into tutoring him goes south and only serves to push her away.  All the while Lance and Walter have been keeping in touch by writing letters.  Lance convinces him to come to California for the Christmas break where he has set him up with a beautiful girl, thus ensuring him the titular “sure thing.”

Walter finds a ride from a ride share board to make the trip. He meets Gary (Tim Robbins) and Mary Ann (Lisa Jane Persky), the couple providing the ride. But there’s a problem, Alison is also off to visit her boyfriend at UCLA and has commandeered the same ride.  The tension of the two bickering teens becomes too much for Gary and Mary to take so they abandon the them on the highway to fend for themselves.  Alison hitches a ride leaving Walter behind.  A few moments later the driver stops on a secluded section of road and attempts to assault her, but Walter arrives just in time. 

Soon they develop a genuine liking for each other but this is about to come crashing down…. Alison discovers the real reason Walter is making this trip and angrily leaves him as soon as they reach their destination.   

Back on campus after the break, the tension between Alison and Walter is still bubbling away. In their English class, Professor Taub (Viveca Linfors) reads an essay composed by Walter as a writing assignment.  It is a description of his night with the “sure thing”. The girl in the essay asks the protagonist if he loves her, but for the first time he realizes that those are not just words and he cannot sleep with her. Alison realizes what actually happened back in California, she tells Walter that she and Jason broke up, and they kiss.  The End.

Now for the gap fill:

Soon after Walter and Alison kissed, Walter cannot shake the profound effect the realisation that “I love you” are not just words has had on his life.  Feeling he has missed out on so much during high School he leaves Alison and moves to Seattle to be with his older sister Constance (Joan Cusack) who is struggling as single parent after leaving her husband.  Taking his sisters married name of Dobler and using his middle name of Lloyd he takes up kickboxing and enrols in High School to relive those formative years

Part Two: Say Anything (1989)

Although they belong to different social groups Lloyd soon becomes infatuated with valedictorian Diane Court (Ione Skye) and plans to ask her out, Diane comes from a sheltered academic upbringing and lives with her doting divorced father Jim (John Mahoney).  She is due to take up a fellowship in the UK at the end of the summer. Diane agrees to accompany Lloyd to a party which surprises their classmates. 

Later during a dinner at the Court household, Lloyd’s lack of direction in life fails to impress Diane’s family.  When asked about his career prospects Lloyd states “I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed”.

During that same dinner Jim is informed that he is under investigation by the IRS for embezzlement. Jim urges Diane to break up with Lloyd, feeling he is not an appropriate match, and suggests she give Lloyd a pen as a parting gift. Diane tells Lloyd she wants to stop seeing him and concentrate on her studies and tells him to take her pen.

What follows is one of the most iconic images ever committed to celluloid (oft repeated but never bettered).  At around dawn, on a boombox under her open bedroom window Lloyd plays “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel, the song that was playing the first time they slept together.

The next day, Dianne finds cash concealed at home and when she confronts Jim, he confesses that he has been embezzling the funds but only to provide financial security for her.  Distraught Diane runs back into the arms of Lloyd. Sometime later Lloyd visits Jim in prison and tells him he is going to accompany Diane to the UK and hands him a letter from Diane explaining that she cant forgive him, but she arrives at the prison to say goodbye and the pair embrace. Lloyd then accompanies Diane on the flight to the UK. The End.   

Gap fill number two:

During the long flight to the UK Lloyd has concluded that he will never be the right man for Diane and decides to head back to the US, keeping only the pen as a reminder of their summer together.  Remembering his friend Mark (Jeremy Piven) back in Seattle had told him he was heading to Grosse Pointe, Michigan to retake high school he decides to join him there where he assumes the name Martin Blank.  Here he meets Debbi Newbury (Minnie Driver) and they embark on a tumultuous relationship culminating in him leaving her on prom night and disappearing. 

Part Three: Grosse Pointe Blank (1997):

Years later as a professional killer, Martin is preparing for a job, his sister Constance has lost a custody battle with her estranged partner and is now working as his assistant, Marcella. She informs him that he has received an invitation to his Grosse point high school reunion. While Martin is able to kill his intended target, a rival assassin named Grocer (Dan Akroyd), arrives and kills Martin’s principal, effectively ruining the contract. Grocer tries to convince Martin to join his team of assassins, but Martin refuses, preferring to work alone.  

Martin’s next job goes badly when he has to shoot the target rather than make it appear like a natural death; as such, his clients demand that he make amends by taking a contract in Grosse Pointe, where the reunion is taking place.  Disillusioned with work and knowing that refusal will cause reprisal, Martin reluctantly agrees to take the job and leaves for Grosse Pointe.

Now in Grosse Pointe, Martin reconnects with old flame Debbi, who is now a radio DJ and Mark, who has changed his name to Paul.  While he reacquaints himself with the town and his old friends, Martin is stalked by Felix LaPoubelle (Benny Urquidez), a hitman hired by a wealthy dog owner whose prize retriever was killed on one of Martin’s previous assignments.  Also pursuing him are two National Security Agency agents (Hank Azaria and K Todd Freeman) who were tipped off to Martin’s contract by Grocer.

Fuelled by a desire to shrug off the angst of his past relationships with Dianne and Alison and knowing that Debi truly is the one for whom those words really are more than just words, Martin repeatedly procrastinates over opening the dossier on his intended target and concentrate his efforts on his relationship with Debi, persuading her to attend the reunion with him. 

Picking her up for the event, he meets her father, Bart (Mitchell Ryan), to whom he admits to being a professional assassin.  In stark contrast to the family meal at Jim’s house in Say Anything, Bart jokingly compliments him on joining a “growth industry,” and seems willing to ignore the fact that he left Debi in tears on prom night.

At the reunion Martin and Debi rekindle their relationship and the bond between them seems to be returning.  Martin decides to explore the school halls alone and is ambushed by LaPoubelle. Unarmed and clearly at a disadvantage Martin reaches for the one thing he keeps on him at all times, Diane’s pen, which he uses to stab LaPobubelle in the neck fatally wounding him.  Debi stumbles upon the scene as Martin is stooped over LaPoubelle’s corpse, and flees from the reunion in shock and horror. Moments later Paul arrives and helps Martin dispose of the body.

Martin decides to retire from being a contract killer and finally opens the dossier detailing the contract that brought him to Grosse Pointe. The target is Debi’s father, Bart, who is scheduled to testify against Martin’s clients.  Martin decides to abandon the contract and instead protect Bart.  Bart is out for a morning run and Martin arrives just as Grocer and his band of assassins are about to pull the trigger.  Martin drives Bart home to Debbi followed by Grocer, his cohorts and the two federal agents who all lay siege to the house.  During the gun fight, Martin proposes to Debbi who is too overwhelmed to respond, however Bart quips “you have my blessing”.  Debi and Martin leave Grosse Point together to start a new life.

Three separate films have become the “Sure, Say Anything about Grosse Pointe Blank” trilogy.   The story of  Walter, a boy who was willing to travel hundreds of miles just to get laid become Martin Blank a sensitive retired contract killer who not only fulfils Lloyds aspiration to never buy or sell anything processed but manages to achieve a newfound respect for life.  Who knows maybe a few years later he changes his name again, takes a job as a Limo driver and does his best to survive an impending apocalypse?   

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