Theres absolutely nothing appealing about The Ice Harvest. I realize this is a movie about a couple of bad apples surrounded by a basket-load of rotten fruit, however at the core of The Ice Harvest is a blackened pit thats sure to leave an ugly aftertaste in your mouth. (Sometimes these descriptions just pop into my head and they wont leaf er, leave.)
Two new names get added to Santas naughty list when semi-friends/associates mafia lawyer Charlie (John Cusack) and pornographer Vic (Billy Bob Thornton) rip off mob boss Bill Guerrard (Randy Quaid) for $2,147,000 on Christmas Eve.
Instead of leaving town immediately, the two separate for the night but not before promising to meet up the next morning to start their new lives on the lam. Vic holds on to the bag of money while Charlie bides his time hitting on a strip club owner (Connie Nielsen in a role that's straight out of an old black and white detective movie of the 40s or 50s), drinking, and taking care of his ex-wifes new alcoholic hubby, Pete (Oliver Platt).
Over the course of the evening Charlie comes to realize that his partner in crime may not be the most trustworthy person on the planet (no claim was ever made suggesting Charlies a rocket scientist). He also figures out that hes terrible at acting innocent when $2 million in stolen money is at stake.
Where It All Goes Wrong
Where do I start? Okay, let me get this straight. These guys rip off $2 million in cash from a mob boss and theyre scared of a little ice on the road? I understand its winter and the roads are tricky to navigate but, I dont know, if I stole $2 million from a mobster, Id find a way to get the heck out of Dodge or in this case, Wichita as quickly as possible.
Why the only so-so friends decide to kill 8 hours after having stolen millions from a mobster by hanging out in strip clubs, restaurants, and bars all over the seedy side of town doesnt make much sense. But thats just one of the frustrating twists that doesn't add up in this noir-ish heist film. I doubt the point of the two thieves staying in Wichita was simply to show naked women dancing around poles, however thats about as logical an explanation as I can come up with.
The characters in The Ice Harvest are just plain nasty. Theyre barely funny, almost never interesting, and when the gunfire starts late in the film, I found myself wishing one of the main characters would get killed. Theyre that annoying.
Cusacks good but detached. Platts funny when his characters not obnoxiously hitting on much younger women. His characters drunken shtick works for a short while and I emphasize short.
Nielsen does her best impression of Lauren Bacall as she vamps her way through the role of a gorgeous femme fatale. Nielsens character is straight out of a classic noir, down to the way director Harold Ramis plays with the lighting of her face. Unfortunately for Nielsen, shes the only one in the movie participating in that particular genre of film. Whenever she interacts with anyone, its like watching two bizarrely spliced together movies trying to share the same space. The result is laughable even when the dialogue isnt meant to be funny.
Its really Billy Bob Thornton who gets the short end of the stick. Im estimating hes in The Ice Harvest for all of 20 minutes. Even Platts role is bigger than Thorntons. Weve seen Thornton in a biting, hilarious, black Christmas comedy and we know he can handle it, but this is no Bad Santa.
There Are Better Ways to Spend Two Hours
Watch the trailer for the best parts of The Ice Harvest and then go rent The Ref if you really want to see a truly funny dark Christmas comedy. Although its advertised as a comedy, The Ice Harvest is anything but. What it is is a disjointed mess full of improbable situations and unpleasant characters. It's just pointless.
"The Ice Harvest" was directed by Harold Ramis and is rated R for violence, language and sexuality/nudity.