Who's in it:
John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton
The Basics: Two no-talent embezzlers (Cusack, Thornton) steal $2 million from the Kansas mob on Christmas Eve. Then comes the double-cross under the Christmas tree.
What's the Deal? It's official — the intentionally nasty and mean-spirited holiday-themed comedy is where it's at. From The Ref to Bad Santa, there's some kind of disgruntled national id at work here, because people keep wanting to see them. Having said that, this movie isn't all just for laughs; it's really a neo-noir heist caper with comic moments. In fact, it's cooler for the way it doesn't just go for easy gags left and right. But yeah, everyone here is miserable and lots of people get their faces shot off. Think of it as a way to vent between rounds of shopping.
Bring a Jacket and an Umbrella: The title isn't just a title. It's a warning about tone and mood. Every single second of this movie is drenched in freezing rain and dead-end misery, like if you were to take the happy-ending windfall joy of It's a Wonderful Life and stab it repeatedly in the stomach. So, you know, funny. Anyway, you'll feel the chill just looking at it.
Old Pros at This: It's directed by Harold Ramis (Animal House, Caddyshack, Meatballs and Stripes yeah, all of them), co-written by Robert Benton (What's Up Doc?, Bonnie and Clyde) and starring Thornton, who's kind of become the go-to guy for roles like this.
Unexpected Greatness: Oliver Platt does hilarious, cringingly embarrassing drunk like someone who lives it 24/7 and gives the best performance in the movie. Meanwhile, unless you saw the excellently bizarre Demonlover, you probably never think of Danish pretty person Connie Nielsen as anything more than window dressing. But here, she's a memorably weary femme fatale.
So, Smart Grown-Ups: This one's for you.