The Ice Harvest
Director: Harold Ramis (Caddyshack, Vacation, Groundhog Day, Multiplicity, Bedazzled)
Writer: Richard Russo & Robert Benton (screenplay)
             Scott Phillips (novel)
Producer: Albert Berger
Starring: John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, Connie Nielsen, Olicer Platt, Randy Quaid
MPAA Rating:R
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     Not a lot of redeeming qualities about "The Ice Harvest." Two degenerate, although audience likeable, guys try to rip off a mob boss of 2 million dollars on Christmas Eve and expect to get away with it easily. Well, it's never easy in a movie, and for John Cusack and Billy-Bob Thornton things are no different. Harold Ramis (Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day, Caddyshack) takes the reins on this one, but the dark sleigh of film noir is too much for him to fly and I think he should stick with comedy in my opinion.

      Really the only thing the film has going for it is the cast. The story is less than mediocre and the dialogue is totally forgettable. I was able to contain my disdain because of Cusack and Thornton. It's more of the same for both of them basically, but that's a good thing. Cusack's boyish charm and Thornton's comedic blunt coldness are a winning pair. If you're not a Cusack fan, stop reading right now and go see something else with a similar feel (like "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang;") The Ice Harvest ain't for you.

      Summary: after the money is stolen, the two cons are supposed to split up and meet up later the next morning to skip town. Instead of going home, Charlie (Cusack) wanders aound the town meeting people and getting himself into more and more trouble with his drunk as hell buddy (Platt). Basically a lot of nothing happens until he finally meets up again with Vic (Thornton). Then the two are off on a crusade full of double-crosses, dead ends and "surprises." Pretty basic no? Plus, the directing by Ramis leaves a little to be desired. There is one 15 minute stretch of film I really liked in which the two bumbling thieves try to transport a mobster in a big silver footlocker from a garage to an icy grave in the river (above photo). The rest is like, whatever man. I read one critique that offered up how much cooler this film might've been had the Coen Brothers been at the helm. I agree.

      Connie Nielsen (Gladiator, Mission to Mars) plays the female interest and reminds me of a young Kathleen Turner. Not too much depth to her character, but I think she will be in some bigger films in the near future. I really liked her style and "attitude."

      The problem for the film is several fold. One: the trailer makes the movie appear funny. It's really not that funny. A few chuckles here and there, but nothing hilarious. Two: the title is too forgettable. Ask someone if they're interested in seeing The Ice Harvest. They'll say, "never heard of it." You say, "the one with John Cusack and Billy-Bob Thornton." They'll say, "oh yeah, that looks pretty good." Three: no depth to the story. Not a whole lot happens and everything is super-predictable. Four: Thornton does not have as much screen time as he should. Either does Quaid for that matter, but his character sucks anyway, so it doesn't really matter.

      So really not much to say about this one. Very mediocre. I liked the characters (what there was of them), but the story was so obvious and cliche - steal money from the mob boss; oooo really original. Again, "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang" is a film with a much similar tone, but with FAR better performances and story-line. Go see that instead. However, if you're a Cusack fan (like I am) there is enough of him and his dialogue to suffice as a slightly above average movie going experience.




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drewbacca@moviepatron.com