by Anthony King
It's the holidays, we're in the middle of a pandemic, and I don't know about you, but it doesn't quite feel like the Christmas season. So make yourself some hot cocoa or brew up a batch of hot toddies, and let's have a double feature of criminals IN OVER THEIR HEADS ON CHRISTMAS! (*cue theme music*)
We kick things off with an oft-forgotten comedy from 1994 directed by the late Ted Demme and starring Denis Leary, Judy Davis, and Kevin Spacey (barf), The Ref. The film follows Gus (Leary), a burglar who is abandoned by his partner when the alarm of the house they're robbing is triggered on Christmas Eve. Gus makes a run for it and kidnaps Caroline and Lloyd in order to hideout at their house. What Gus doesn't realize is that Caroline (Davis) and Lloyd (Spacey) are in a loveless marriage where most of the time is spent blaming the other person for the marriage's failures. Meanwhile, Lloyd's mother ( and brother and his family are on the way to their house for dinner. Caroline and Lloyd's delinquent son is also set to arrive home from military school. Gus soon realizes he's... IN OVER HIS HEAD ON CHRISTMAS! (*cue theme song*)
We follow a a Christmas comedy up with a Christmas thriller that goes way off the rails towards the end. The Silent Partner is a Canadian film from 1978 directed by Daryl Duke and starring Elliott Gould, Christopher Plummer, and Susanna York, with an early role by John Candy. Gould is Miles, a quiet and lonely bank teller at a mall who admires Julie (York) from afar. One day Miles sees a note written by someone saying they have a gun and to pass over all the money. That robbery had never happened, though, but one day during his lunch break Miles notices the writing on the mall Santa's sign matched that of the note. Being prepared for next time, Miles squirrels away half the money in his register when the mall Santa (Plummer) returns to rob the bank. Santa's real name is, Reikle, and we soon learn he's a sadistic psychopath. It becomes a cat and mouse story with Reikle hunting Miles but Miles always seems to be one step ahead.
I guess the moral of this double is that before you turn to a life of crime, you need a moment of introspection to see if you're really cut out for it. And plan ahead for goodness sake! You don't want to become the hunted, and you don't want to end up in the middle of a loveless marriage. Happy Holidays!