It’s the night before Christmas in Wichita Falls, and John Cusack plays a crooked lawyer who runs off with two million in mob money in the first scene of the movie. During a very long night in a very odd town, he has to navigate overly solicitous cops, dangerous strip club owners (Connie Nielsen), an untrustworthy partner (Billy Bob Thornton), and the drunken friend who ran off with his wife (Oliver Platt.) The brisk screenplay by Richard Russo and Robert Benton, based on a novel by Scott Phillips, keeps the movie swerving between outright hilarity and Cusack’s increasing desperation. One of the sharper and more entertaining crime/heist/noirs I’ve seen in a while, The Ice Harvest may earn itself a spot on our list of Christmas movies for cynics.

The Ice Harvest. Harold Ramis, ***