Movie Reviews

bellview--i love movies

Home | Movie Reviews | Video Roundups | Essays | Game Reviews | Subscribe | Mailbag | About | Search

Movie Awards
2004 Roundup
2005 Roundup
2006 Roundup
2007 Roundup
2008 Roundup
2009 Roundup


"The Ice Harvest"

Directed by Harold Ramis.
Written by Richard Russo and Robert Benton.  Based on the novel by Scott Phillips.
Starring John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, Connie Nielsen and Randy Quaid.
Release Year:  2005
Review Date:  11/27/05


My buddy Chi and I hit the multiplex over the weekend to check out the new comedy/thriller "The Ice Harvest"; as the victims of too many black comedies featuring a guy trying to skip town with a bunch of cash that isn't his, we both thought that this flick seemed a little too familiar.

John Cusack--treading ground he has walked before--plays Charlie, a lawyer with many mob clients that has just helped rob his boss of just over $2 million.  Charlie, along with his partner, porn peddler Vic Cavanaugh (Billy Bob Thornton), have the cash in hand and now are looking to skip their home town of Wichita ASAP before the mob guys find out their money is gone.  Unfortunately, the mob guys are already in the know, so Charlie and Vic have just a few hours to get outta Dodge...unfortunately, there's an ice storm of epic proportions going on and the boys have to burn some time locally before they can blaze a trail.

Chi pulled "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead" out of his ass when thinking about what "The Ice Harvest" reminded him of; for me, it wasn't so much the feels-too-familiar plotting so much as the deadpan nature of Cusack employed once again for comic effect.  Cusack seems to play this type of role a lot, and he's good at it, so you can't complain too much...but, as the nervous nelly that has to get going with the moolah, I kinda wished he would give me something a little different.  Cusack cracks wise here and there when he isn't trying to figure out The Broad, played here with film noirity (noirness?) by Connie Nielsen of "Gladiator" fame.  Nielsen's character spends most of her time spouting 1940s femme fatale, not unlike Barbara Stanwyck in "Double Indemnity", but to much less dramatic effect.  Randy Quaid plays the heavy--like William Hurt in "A History of Violence", Quaid makes his appearance late in the game--and he isn't nearly as funny or as nasty or as simply effective as one should be in this role; it might be Quaid but it is probably this script, which does almost nothing out of the ordinary.  I have to assume that the book was really strong, because as is this script is a bit of a hack job, considering the recent history of these types of mob thrillers.

This isn't to say that "The Ice Harvest" isn't interesting; it just isn't memorable.  There's a little violence here and there, there's a couple of laughs (thanks mostly to Oliver Platt, playing a drunk friend of Charlie's), there's a random shot of a stripper using her thighs to climb up a pole.  The movie hits fast and dirty, clocking in at under 90 minutes, and it's such an easy ride that you start to feel it slip away just after leaving the theater.  As a great man once said, you could do worse, but wouldn't you rather do better?

Rating:  Matinee


Comments?  Drop me a line at


Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

Home | Movie Reviews | Video Roundups | Essays | Game Reviews | Subscribe | Mailbag | About | Search

The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09