[Screen It]


(1997) (John Cusack, Minnie Driver) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Moderate Moderate Extreme *Minor Extreme
Moderate None None Mild Extreme
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Minor Minor Minor Mild Extreme

Comedy: A professional hitman returns to his hometown for his tenth year high school reunion.
Martin Blank (JOHN CUSACK) is a professional hitman with an identity crisis. After meeting with his psychiatrist (ALAN ARKIN), Martin returns to his hometown of Grosse Pointe, Michigan for two reasons. He has a contract to fulfill, and his high school class is having its tenth year reunion. Keeping in contact with his personal assistant, Marcella (JOAN CUSACK), Martin makes it to Grosse Pointe only to find that a convenience store has replaced his boyhood home. Yet, the former love of his life, Debi Newberry (MINNIE DRIVER), a local deejay, is still there and still wondering what happened to him after he disappeared on the night of their prom. After meeting old friends like Paul (JEREMY PIVEN), Martin must contend with his feelings for Debi, avoid a competing hitman, Mr. Grocer (DAN AYKROYD), who has put out a contract on him, and attend the reunion itself.
Most younger children won't, but if older kids are fans of any of the cast or are drawn to the "hip" quality of the comedy, they just might.
For strong violence, language and some drug content.
  • JOHN CUSACK plays a professional hitman who second guesses his profession after he's reunited with his long lost love.
  • MINNIE DRIVER plays a woman whom Martin stood up ten years earlier, who lets him back into her heart when he reappears.
  • DAN AYKROYD plays another professional hitman who puts a contract on Martin's life.


    OUR TAKE: 8 out of 10
    This is an interesting and often amusing look at the life of a professional assassin. Normally the realm of drama or suspense genres, this film works well as a black comedy. It's sometimes difficult and troubling to have a protagonist who's a killer and still make that character and the movie enjoyable, but this film manages to pull it off. This is mainly due to Cusack's performance as he creates an interesting and comically befuddled character. We've liked Cusack in nearly every role he's played during his career as he usually plays a restrained character with a great deal of depth and tension lying just beneath the surface. Here, that "eruptive" quality is played in a comic fashion and is heightened by our knowledge that he's a trained killer and may "snap" at any moment. Aykroyd's performance is good but lean, and proves once again that he's better in supporting roles than as a lead character. Minnie Driver shows that she's a great romantic lead, and although she isn't used enough in this picture, the time that she's on screen is great. The plot is interesting and keeps your interest throughout, but many may be put off by the attention, albeit comic, that's focused on professional killings. For those who accept this film as satire, they'll probably enjoy it. We did and we give it an 8 out of 10.
    Despite our above praise, parents should note that this isn't the greatest film for most children. The main character is a killer, and although he's portrayed here as the "hero" and is a likeable guy, he's still a killer. Since many of the scenes aren't played out seriously, especially when Martin is disposing of a body (that's accompanied by an upbeat song from the '80's), impressionable minds might get the wrong idea about killing people. Of course we're not suggesting that anyone seeing this film will go out and become a killer, but it does desensitize the issue and almost makes it appear to be fun. We'd say that only older children who can appreciate the satire and know that much of it is played tongue-in-cheek, should be allowed to see this film. That said, there are many killings, some of them being graphically bloody. Profanity is extreme with more than twenty "f" words, and some characters are drunk and/or high from drugs. We suggest that you read the content listings before deciding if this film is appropriate for you and/or your children.

  • Martin's mother is mentally ill and has to take lithium for her condition.
  • Cases of beer are prominently seen behind Martin in a convenience store, and later he pours a bottle of wine on his father's grave.
  • Paul smokes a joint while driving Martin around town.
  • Debi drinks a shot of liquor in a bar and a fellow classmate shows up drinking a martini, and is drunk.
  • Debi's father offers Martin a drink (he declines) and then has a glass of brandy himself.
  • People drink at their high school reunion and Martin orders vodka on the rocks for himself and Debi.
  • A fellow classmate, who is either drunk and/or high, first offers cocaine to Debi ("Wanna do some blow?"), and then later repeats the offer to Martin.
  • Martin finds an old, dried up joint in his locker that he had hidden ten years earlier.
  • Paul orders a shot of whiskey after helping Martin dispose of a body.
  • Many of those who've been shot are bloody.
  • Martin stabs an assailant in the neck with a ballpoint pen. The dead man's shirt is very bloody as is Martin's hand.
  • Martin's lip is bloody and he has bloody scrapes on him after a fight with another man.
  • During the final gun battle, Martin wipes splattered blood from his face and by the end has a very bloody hand.
  • Martin, Grocer, and others have extreme cases of both as they kill for money.
  • Mr. Grocer hires several men, including two NSA operatives, to kill Martin.
  • Martin says that he doesn't care about the morality of killing others (since his targets are "bad" people as well), and then goes on to say that you actually grow to like doing it. His attitude changes, though, when he begins to rethink his ways after Debi returns into his life.
  • We find out that Martin stood up Debi on the night of their high school prom and disappeared into thin air without any explanation to her.
  • The two NSA hitmen comment that they'll enjoy killing Martin.
  • Martin uses a small pick to break into his old high school locker.
  • Some viewers may find the "hits" and gun battles to be tense, but they're not intentionally designed to be that way.
  • Handguns/Machine Guns/Bomb: Used to threaten, injure, or kill people. See "Violence" for details.
  • Shooting people (while it's not likely children will do so because of this film, some deaths here are played out in a "fun" way).
  • Phrases: "Shut up," "Pissed," "Bastard," and "Punk."
  • Marcella trashes her office, smashes her computer, and pours gasoline everywhere (but is never seen torching the place).
  • None.
  • None.
  • The song "Live and Let Die" is heard (its theme parallels its title), and the song, "Blister in the Sun" includes the line, "I'm high as a kite..." (that may be a reference to drug use).
  • 22 "f" words (1 with the prefix "mother" and 1 used sexually), 6 "s" words, 6 hells, 4 "ass" words (1 using "hole"), 3 damns, 1 S.O.B., and 5 uses of "God damn," 2 uses of "God," and 1 use each of "Jesus Christ," "Oh my God," "Oh God," "My God," and "For God's sakes" as exclamations.
  • Martin asks Debi if the bed she's on (in her parents' house) is "the same one." She says yes, and thus it's implied that they fooled around or had sex there while in high school.
  • Martin and Debi passionately kiss in the nurse's office and he takes off her shirt (but nothing is seen due to a foreground object blocking our line of site). It's somewhat implied that they then sleep together, but that's debatable since there aren't enough signs to positively confirm that.
  • One of the NSA hitmen smokes.
  • Marcella smokes in one scene.
  • Debi smokes at the end of the movie.
  • Martin sees his mother, who's in a mental hospital, and she doesn't always remember who he is.
  • That Martin was trained by the military to become an assassin and thus is partially responsible for who he is and what he does.
  • That killing for money is wrong.
  • In the movie's first scene, Martin uses a sniper rifle to shoot a bicyclist who has drawn his own gun to attempt a hit himself. The "target's" bodyguards also see the cyclist and shoot him with their guns. A doorman then steps out, and turns out to be Mr. Grocer who shoots and kills the target and his two bodyguards.
  • Martin attempts to drip poison down a thin cable that's poised over a sleeping target's open mouth. But the man turns his head at the last moment, and Martin races down from the floor above and shoots the man twice, killing him.
  • Martin tells his psychiatrist that when former classmates ask what he's been up to, he'll tell them that he killed the president of Paraguay with a fork.
  • A foreign hitman enters a convenience store and fires a machine gun at Martin who returns fire with his handguns. Tremendous amounts of bullets are fired, and a great deal of merchandise is shot up, but no one is hurt. As the hitman leaves, Martin discovers a bomb in the store's microwave and just gets himself and the clerk out as the store explodes.
  • To retaliate for Martin standing her up ten years ago, Debi slaps him on the face.
  • Martin and the foreign hitman get into a violent fight in a high school hallway. Many punches and kicks are thrown and they slam each other into the walls. It ends when Martin stabs the assailant in the neck with a ballpoint pen, killing him. Martin and Paul then wrap up the dead man and shove him into the high school's incinerator.
  • Marcella trashes her office, smashes her computer, and pours gasoline everywhere (but is never seen torching the place).
  • Martin gets into a big gun battle with Grocer and his hitmen. Many shots are fired and in the end seven people are dead. During the battle, shots are back and forth through doors, and Martin kills one man by repeatedly shooting and hitting him with a heavy metal pan (the action is seen, but not the other man). Martin and Grocer shoot and kill the two NSA hitmen. And Martin slams a TV down onto another man's head that causes his body to convulse from the resulting electrical shocks.

  • Reviewed March 26, 1997

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