Review: The Ice Harvest

Posted by: Dean Kish  //  November 23, 2005 @ 11:59am

Filed under: Reviews

Pushing Tin co-stars John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton re-team for the dark comedy, The Ice Harvest.

Cusack plays Charlie Arglist, who is an attorney in Wichita, Kansas and has just embezzled $2 million dollars. Together with his partner, Vic (Billy Bob Thornton), Charlie plans on leaving Wichita forever on Christmas Eve. The only problem is can he get out of Wichita during one of the coldest nights of the year?

Standing in Charlie's way is the irate Kansas City boss Bill Guerrard (Randy Quaid), whom Charlie stole the money from. Other problems for Charlie is that he is in love with a sexy ice-cold strip-club owner, Renata (Connie Nielsen), and his tormented drinking buddy Pete (Oliver Platt) needs a lift home to Charlie's ex-wife's place.

On paper, the talent involved and having a seasoned comedy director like Harold Ramis at the helm, you know this picture looks to be special. Then why is it so horribly rotten?

We have seen so many dark mob comedies in recent years that the plot itself seems contrived. Cusack is out-of-his-mind bored in this picture, Thornton is just waiting to cash his cheque, and Randy Quaid screams a little. The only performances I enjoyed were the always drunk Oliver Platt and the steely-but-sexy Connie Nielsen, who were perfectly cast in their roles.

As I sat and watched every shred of dignity evaporate from this train-wreck of a film, I remembered back to 1994 and a little Nicolas Cage comedy called Trapped in Paradise, which for me was very similar in plot and oozed charm. In that film, three dim-witted brothers are stuck in a small town during the holidays after robbing the town's bank. The reason that film sang so well is because the characters grew and the plot amplified the characters and the film. It was also quite funny.

In The Ice Harvest, the film's characters never grow as people before one has to die. Then there is the obvious problem that every one in this film is either a sobering imbecile or a blood-thirsty killer. The film is just horrible on so many levels.

When it comes to this film, I can say from the deepest part of my soul that all the funny parts are in the trailer. (1.5 out of 5) So Says the Soothsayer.

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