The Ice Harvest
The Ice Harvest

USA, 2005. Rated R. 88 minutes.

Cast: John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Platt, Randy Quaid, Mike Starr, Ned Bellamy
Writers: Richard Russo & Robert Benton, based on the novel by Scott Phillips
Original Music: David Kitay
Cinematography: Alar Kivilo
Producers: Albert Berger & Ron Yerxa
Director: Harold Ramis


Grade: C- Review by Carlo Cavagna

M emorandum to John Cusack:

There's a thin line between humorous unflappability in the face of strange events, and sleepwalking. You're usually on the right side of that line. Heck, you're the master of being on the right side of that line. In The Ice Harvest, you've crossed over onto the wrong side.

And when I say that you've crossed the line, I mean you've obliterated it. And when I say “strange events,” I actually mean totally predictable events that would seem to be surprising only to you, except that you're sleepwalking, so you don't seem all that surprised either.

Think about it. You're a mob consigliere named Charlie. You're in Wichita, of all places. You rob your boss, but your partner Billy Bob Thornton won't let you hold the money before you both skip town. Connie Nielsen is sitting around batting her eyelashes and speaking to you in a throaty voice and generally leading you around by your *ahem* nose. What are the odds you aren't getting played?

Billy Bob Thornton and John Cusack
Friends help you move. Good friends help you move a body. Billy Bob Thornton and John Cusack star in The Ice Harvest.

Memorandum to Harold Ramis:

Remember when you were funny? You know, when you directed Caddyshack and Groundhog Day and co-wrote Ghostbusters? Sure, a film about two morons who can't sit still for a few hours on Christmas Eve without arousing suspicion after they pull off a job sounds like it should be funny, but then you get into all this shit about Charlie and his ex-wife, and trying to find some redeeming quality in him. Yet at the same time he needs to grow a backbone and kill someone if he expects to get out of this pickle. That seems tricky to reconcile.

And another thing. While I am well aware that the Screen Actors Guild has negotiated at least ten pointless Oliver Platt feature film appearances per year in the last labor settlement, that does not mean that Platt needs to practically take over the damn film in said pointless appearance. Particularly when Platt's character, Pete, spends the entire time irritatingly drunk off his ass. The only conceivable reason he's in the film is to show Charlie isn't all bad because he's nice to Pete. Is that really worth more than five minutes of screen time?

You should have gone for less bonding and more bungling.

Memorandum to Billy Bob Thornton:

You think maybe you're starting to get typecast? Try a role where you don't curse or get drunk.

[Read the AboutFilm profile & interview with John Cusack]

[Read the AboutFilm interview with Connie Nielsen]

Review © December 2005 by AboutFilm.Com and the author.
Images © 2005 Focus Features. All Rights Reserved.

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