The Ice Harvest


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"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."










The Ice Harvest
The Masked Reviewer

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 SantaBad 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 here (Quicktime movie).

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, either. 

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 the place.

Looking for Billy Bob Thorton, John Cussack or John Cousack, or Connie Nielson?  They're here.

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