"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
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
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?
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
"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 bad...man, 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
"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