Director: Harold Ramis
Starring: John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton,
Connie Nielsen, Randy Quaid, Oliver Platt
RunTime: 1 hr 32 mins
Released By: Shaw
Day: 22 December 2005
Christmas Eve in rainy, icebound Wichita, Kansas, and this
year Charlie Arglist (John Cusack) just might have something
to celebrate. Charlie, an attorney for the sleazy businesses
of Wichita, and his unsavory associate, the steely Vic Cavenaugh
(Billy Bob Thornton), have just successfully embezzled $2,147,000
from Kansas City boss Bill Guerrard (Randy Quaid).
so, the real prize for Charlie would be the stunning Renata
(Connie Nielsen), who runs the Sweet Cage strip club. Charlie's
fondest Christmas wish is to slip out of town with Renata.
But, as daylight fades and a storm whirls, everyone from Charlie's
drinking buddy Pete Van Heuten (Oliver Platt) to the local
police begin to wonder just what exactly is in Charlie's Christmas
stocking. For Charlie, the 12 hours of Christmas Eve are filled
with nonstop twists and turns, both on the ice and off.
season is upon us, with good tidings and a time of goodwill
toward all of mankind. However for Charlie Arglist (John Cusack)
and his associate Vic Cavanaugh (Billy Bob Thornton), it's
profiteering from embezzlement that brings them together.
by Harold Ramis, whose easily recognizable credits include
the Ghostbusters franchise, this tale tells about the honour
amongst thieves, or the lack thereof, and Charlie's deteriorating,
disillusioned attitude towards life. All these set in less
than 24 hours. As a lawyer for the mob in Wichita, Kansas,
Charlie successfully steals 2 million dollars from his mob
boss Bill Guerrad (Randy Quaid). Problem is, Vic's the one
keeping the money, and constantly teases Charlie as to the
whereabouts of their stash.
Cusack's and Thornton's third outing together (the first two
being Floundering in 1994, and Pushing Tin in 1999), the good
chemistry and natural bantering between the two leads clearly
show, but their scenes with each other weren't given as much
screen time as they should be. In fact, this becomes more
like Cusack's show, being the main lead, shouldering the movie
through from start to end with his understated performance
as the everyday man.
into the male machismo is Connie Nielsen, who plays a strip
club owner called Renata, the object of Charlie's affections.
Or is it lust? Until Charlie finds the money, his dream of
eloping with Renata will have to be put on hold, even though
Renata expressed disinterest for the cash, and relishes romance
instead. It's interesting to note that for the scenes with
the gangster moll, the camera always seemed to be in soft-focus,
with the deliberate utility of light and shadows to illuminate
her, as if to prompt the audience into the depth of her character,
that it is more than meets the eye.
felt that Oliver Platt was under utilized in a role which
seemed one-dimensional, in for the laughs and as an instrument
to further the plot with his drunken conversations with Cusack's
character, which is a pity. In fact, many of the lesser characters
are cardboard like, and therefore, sadly expendable.
the black humour and wicked lines of dialogue peppered throughout
the movie, it still felt like it's running on empty with its
various subplots packed into a relatively short 80-odd minutes.
Some moments, like the running graffiti theme "As Wichita
falls, so falls Winchita Falls", might be lost in local
audiences not attuned to the geography of the States.
for a different Christmas movie this holiday season, besides
adventures like Chronicles of Narnia and France's dramatic
Joyeux Noel, you might want to consider an out of the norm
offering in this caper.
An average movie brought to life by John Cusack's usual wonderful
performance in a quirky and unusual tale set in Christmas)
by Stefan Shih