Cast – Kevin Spacey, Denis Leary, Judy Davis
Directed by Ted Demme
Gus is a thief. He barely escaped his last heist and now he is stuck in a small Connecticut town on Christmas Eve because the police have blocked all of his routes out of town. He takes Lloyd and Caroline, a married couple on the brink of divorce, hostage in their own home until he can figure out a way to escape the cops. Except the bickering couple drives him nuts and the number of people coming to the house keeps growing.
Why I love it– This is a dark comedy that is a perfect foil for the fluffy, feel-good holiday movies. My favorite parts of the film are the rapid-fire, anger-filled exchanges between Lloyd (Spacey) and Caroline (Davis). This couple is riveting to watch and the small details of their unraveling marriage come out in bits and pieces, perfect to keep you watching. How can they hate each other so much? Leary was perfect as Gus, the long-suffering thief forced to put up with these rich people who seemed to have everything.
Then the extended family arrives for dinner and the laughs provide relief from the uncomfortable family dynamics that come to an explosive head. Glynis Johns as Lloyd’s mother and Christine Baranski as his sister-in-law were perfection!
After I watched this movie again yesterday I read that Demme had a different ending for Gus, but the test audiences hated it so he changed it. Apparently he regretted doing so and I think I might have to agree with him. I may have liked it even more the first way. I won’t spoil it for you, but it’s something to think about if you watch it.
The movie’s not perfect, but there’s more good than bad and it has surprising depth. If you dislike swearing, this may not be the movie for you.
My Top 100 List
Let me start by noting that I listened to the abridged audio version read by author, Denis Leary. I never listen to abridged books on tape and I didn’t know that’s what I had until I was halfway through. That being said, I am not interested in reading this book in full. Denis Leary has such a unique voice that it would not be the same if I read it. His biting wit is better heard than read. So, for the first time ever I am recommending an abridged cd over the actual book (gasp). Another benefit of the cds? The Irish music played between chapters.
My favorite aspect of this book were the endless stories of his Irish American childhood. Stories of “when I was a kid…” were not annoying with Leary’s acid tongue. My favorite story was one that involved Denis being shot in the head with an arrow by his brother and then running home with the arrow still sticking out of his noggin. There is also an ongoing conversation with his mom which is funny and will probably remind you of at least one person you know (in a good way).
This book will offend you. Somewhere, something will rub you the wrong way, but if you wait a few minutes you will probably be chuckling again. I laughed out loud often, even though I never like jokes involving Jesus and I thought he went on a bit too much about having a mom home all the time. There are plenty of things that will make you laugh- Dr.Phil, annoying children, his new love affair with Oprah, and the circus that is paparazzi.
Denis Leary received an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, Emerson College. So he’s DOCTOR Denis Leary to the masses :)