If you've seen the previews or trailers
for The Ice Harvest, you might think that it was a comedy.
It was directed by Harold Ramis, who you might remember as Egon from
Ghostbusters, but he also took the helm for Caddyshack,
Groundhog Day, and Analyze This. They didn't happen to
mention that he also directed Stuart Saves His Family...the
Masked Reviewer wonders why? Hmmmm....
The trailer suggests that
this film was a black comedy. It wasn't a black comedy. It
wasn't a thriller, it wasn't a drama, it wasn't a romance story...this
film wasn't a lot of things. In particular, it wasn't very good.
Perhaps it could best be classified as a sort of parody of film noir.
Maybe not a parody, actually, because there wasn't very much that was
taken lightly. "Homage" to film noir might be more accurate, but
it wasn't much of an homage.
Comparisons have been made (by the money-hungry producers, no doubt)
between The Ice Harvest and Bad Santa. Bad Santa
starred Billy Bob Thornton (he's in this, too!), was set at Christmas
(this is set at Christmas, too!), was dark (this is dark, too!), and was
produced by people associated with better projects (so was this!) -- the
big difference being that Bad Santa actually was funny, if you
like dark humor with Billy Bob Thornton set at Christmas. The
Ice Harvest is likely to let people down who are expecting humor,
because that's what it was presented as. The Masked Reviewer often
doesn't see trailers for films, but when he does and when those trailers
are misleading, it definitely counts against the movie's rating.
You could certainly cut together a trailer for Titanic that makes
it look like a comedy. In fact, someone has done a trailer for
The Shining that makes it look like an uplifting family story
Okay, all that being said, it doesn't really matter because even if
you knew nothing about this film going in, it's still not that great.
While John Cusack is entertaining in the lead, his character isn't all
that interesting. He has a love interest in Connie Nielsen (no
relation to the TV ratings people), who is a rather bland (but hot)
femme fatale. Billy Bob Thornton is a grumpy tough guy, but again,
we don't see enough of what makes him tick.
And then, there's Oliver Platt. Oh, my. His inclusion in the
film must serve some purpose (presumably comic relief), but he just adds
to the unevenness of the film. He's not bad, per se, as much as he
is out of place as a drunk and boisterous sidekick.
The movie's plot is a tad hard to follow, too. We start off in the
middle of a crime. We hear a lot of names of people and events,
but we don't see them, and there are people that are introduced but not
seen until much later in the film. It can be a lot to keep track
of, although everything does become clearer towards the end. It's
just...well, it's not really worth all that attention. The film
does wrap up in a way that's more interesting than anything that
precedes it, which is too bad. If it were more compelling
throughout, it might have been decent, but it never really found its
stride or its voice.
A lot of respected names were associated with the film, but it was
definitely lacking something. Maybe it was put together badly.
Maybe the script was never there. Maybe none of the actors knew
what the project was trying to be. Maybe the director didn't,
Hey, here's an unusual note of praise: it was mercifully short.
Most films have been pushing two-and-a-half to three hours these days,
and they shouldn't be. The Ice Harvest was a brisk 88
minutes: any longer and it would have been too long. Sometimes,
less is more.
If you want to see a comedy, The Ice Harvest certainly won't
fit the bill. While there are a couple of amusing bits, it's never
funny, and it doesn't try to be. It's a dark comedy without the
comedy. It's not very dramatic, and it should be more of a
thriller than it winds up being. This is a movie that you will be
able to see again in six months and have forgotten just about every
detail. Even huge fans of Billy Bob Thornton or John Cusack will
find those appearances weren't up to par. On the other hand, if
you're a huge Randy Quaid fan, you should see this film, because he's
HUGE in it. So, if you like your Randy Quaid huge, you might want
to check it out.
Yeah, it's mean. But someone was going to say it.
Expectation from the Title: The documentary about hard working
Eskimos who transport their crop each spring from the arctic to your
local supermarket, while trying to avoid seeing their profits melt away.
Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):
John Cusack seems like a nice young man. It's too bad he sometimes
falls in with the wrong crowd.
The Pros: There's some nudity. A couple of mildly
amusing bits. An ending that was better than the rest of the film,
though still not all that good.
The Cons: Disjointed. Not a comedy, not funny.
Requires some paying attention to know what's going on. All over
Looking for Billy Bob Thorton, John
Cussack or John Cousack, or Connie Nielson? They're here.