Film Threat archive logo


By Michael Ferraro | November 28, 2005

Running only a mere 88 minutes, “The Ice Harvest” long outstays its welcome. The film never quite figures out what type of movie it wants to be (whether it is a comedy or a drama or thriller or noir) and its understanding of how to combine these elements evenly is nothing short of elementary. For a comedy, it isn’t that funny. For a thriller, it isn’t that thrilling. In short, it would have been a much better movie if focused on either/or.

John Cusack looks utterly bored playing Charlie Arglist, a sleazy lawyer for the local mafia in Wichita, Kansas. Each shot he is in, it looks as if he just woke up or he is having some deep internal conflict that isn’t fully explored within the pages of this script. And does the mafia actually exist in Kansas? We must remember that we’re suspending our disbelief. With the help of his partner, Vic (Billy Bob Thornton), they swindle the mafia out of a giant stack of 2 million cash and attempt to get away with it. Why these two guys with somewhat lucrative career paths would want to try something this dangerous is answered in their misery. Arglist is a divorcée and Vic is unhappily married. While we as an audience know that stealing money from the mob is never a smart idea, would we succumb to this type of stupidity if the chance were so close to us?

While Charlie bumbles about town before his getaway, he stumbles into one of his old drinking buddies, Pete Van Heuten (Oliver Platt). It’s an awkward moment for Charlie, as Pete is now his ex-wife’s new husband, but the two have an interesting chemistry to cause conflict. Platt is at his finest here, stealing every scene he is in, playing the typical drunken rabble-rouser without being too conflicting or resorting to lazy profanities for humor. It’s just a shame that the rest of the movie wasn’t this funny or exciting.

“The Ice Harvest” is just another attempt at making an anti-holiday film. They always have shady and miserably despicable characters, alcoholics galore, and deliberate attempts of humoring the audience with a superfluity of profanity. Profanity isn’t the problem since everyone loves naughty words; it’s the sheer laziness of it.

How exciting would it be to see one of these films actually succeed? Director Harold Ramis isn’t quite sure how to make these elements work either, based on the utter amount of laziness he demonstrates visually on screen. “The Ice Harvest” may not be as bad as a lump of coal in your stocking, but it isn’t as exciting as a new pair of socks either.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join our Film Threat Newsletter

Newsletter Icon