This noirish comedy centers on a smarm-and-charm insurance agent (Greg Kinnear) who, seeking a ticket out of freezing Wisconsin and a reunion with his estranged wife (Lea Thompson), sets out to swindle an elderly farmer (Alan Arkin) whose violin might be worth a bundle.
His scheme becomes a nightmare of blackmail and body parts, however, after a crazed locksmith (Billy Crudup) gets involved.
“Fargo”-light qualities notwithstanding, director and co-writer Jill Sprecher (“Clockwatchers”) creates promising characters and scenarios. And her cast — Crudup, who does a deranged number with an ice cream cone, stands out — is capable.
But contrivances increasingly dominate the story, and a lengthy, unnecessary explanation of the scam brings down the ending.
Starring Greg Kinnear, Alan Arkin, Billy Crudup, Lea Thompson
Written by Jill Sprecher, Karen Sprecher
Directed by Jill Sprecher
Running time 1 hour 34 minutes