A shady lawyer attempts a Christmas Eve crime, hoping to swindle the local mob out of some money. But his partner, a strip club owner, might have different plans for the cash.
Release Year: 2005
Rating: 6.2/10 (14,932 voted)
Critic's Score: 62/100
Stars: John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, Connie Nielsen
Larceny, lust and lethal behavior. In icebound Wichita, Kansas, it's Christmas Eve, and this year Charlie Arglist just might have something to celebrate. Charlie, an attorney for the sleazy businesses of Wichita, and his unsavory associate, the steely Vic Cavanaugh have just successfully embezzled $2 million from Kansas City boss Bill Guerrard. But the real prize for Charlie is the stunning Renata, who runs the Sweet Cage strip club. Charlie hopes to slip out of town with Renata. But as daylight fades and an ice storm whirls, everyone from Charlie's drinking buddy Pete Van Heuten to the local police begin to wonder just what exactly is in Charlie's Christmas stocking – and the 12 hours of Christmas Eve are filled with surprises.
Writers: Richard Russo, Robert Benton
Billy Bob Thornton
Meghan Maureen McDonough
Pete Van Heuten
'Twas the night before Christmas…
Universal [United States] |
Release Date: 23 November 2005
Filming Locations: Carpentersvillle, Illinois, USA
Box Office Details
Opening Weekend: $3,740,799
(27 November 2005)
(11 December 2005)
Did You Know?
Harold Ramis offered a role to Bill Murray but Murray did not return his calls.
Errors in geography:
When Charlie is in the convenience store buying the toys for his children, a cooler can be seen with wine in it. Kansas only sells wine in liquor stores.
Listen. You were right. Vic and I have been skimming.
I think Roy Gelles must have found out, and I think he might have killed Vic.
So I was thinking it might be best if I left town, and I was wondering if you wanted to come with me.
You have the money?
Make no mistake, this isn't a comedy…
I had heard this movie described as a black comedy by some. And when
one thinks of Harold Ramis, they think of his ingenious work as a
director of comedies. But this is a different Harold Ramis. What he has
fashioned is "film noir" all the way.
John Cusack works perfectly with the material, not so much in a
Humphrey Bogart kind of way as in a Fred MacMurray sort of way. He's
the average guy protagonist. He just happens to be a Witchita attorney
for a Kansas City political boss.
The film begins when Charlie Arglist (Cusack), with over two million in
stolen cash, jumps into the car with partner-in-crime Vic Cavanaugh
(Billy Bob Thornton). Throughout the evening Charlie encounters strip
club owner Renata (Connie Nielsen) and drunken colleague Pete Van
Heuten (Oliver Platt, his fist scene-stealer in a number of years).
The character of Pete offers some great comic relief to the story. He's
Charlie's best friend, drunk on Christmas Eve. He's also married to
Charlie's ex-wife, and hating it. This leads to an awkward encounter
with Charlie's kids and former in-laws.
Thornton is still finding new ways of being corrupt and amoral. Connie
Nielsen is a classic femme fatal in the 1940s style. Mike Starr is good
as usual, playing a menacing mob enforcer. Randy Quaid does his usual
best as Kansas City mobster Bill Guerarrd. And bit player Ned Bellamy,
cast as a strip club bouncer with Mom issues adds some fine scenes.
This is about the most straight-forward "noir" I've seen since Lawrence
Kasdan's "Body Heat," but as directed by Ramis, it feels slightly like
a Coen brothers movie, with the occasional comic twists to the genre,
and the casting choices of Thornton ("The Man Who Wasn't There") and
Starr ("Miller's Crossing").
It's not the best movie of the year. But it's good for people who
aren't so anxious for a "white" Christmas.