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Overall Rating

Awesome: 23.19%
Worth A Look44.93%
Average: 17.39%
Pretty Bad: 5.8%
Total Crap: 8.7%

8 reviews, 21 user ratings

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Ice Harvest, The
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by Scott Weinberg

"A neo-noir heist comedy with a dark disposition and a witty soul."
5 stars

The Ice Harvest might not be for everyone, but then again ... most of the really awful movies are made "for everyone," aren't they?

Just when you're sick to death of all the flimsy family comedies, the toothless PG-13 thrillers, and the insipid fart marathons created exclusively for teenage consumption, along comes a dark, devious, and wonderfully cynical little heist flick that re-energizes your movie-love batteries and gives you something to talk about.

Last November gave me one of those movies; it's called The Ice Harvest, and it came courtesy of director Harold Ramis, screenwriters Robert Benton & Richard Russo, and actors John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, and Oliver Platt. The flick made less than $4 million during its opening weekend and promptly vanished without a trace, so as to make room for the next fart marathon and toothless PG-13 thriller.

Frankly I'm astonished that a movie like this even made it through the production machine and wound up receiving a 1,500 theater release. (I mean that as a compliment to the film.)

A palpably miserable and world-weary affair, The Ice Harvest tells the story of a burnt-out Kansas lawyer who unwisely decides to make off with two million of his boss' dollars. Along with his grumpy partner Vic, Charlie hopes to coast through one more wintry night in Wichita while avoiding the attention of his boss' henchmen, wooing the local femme fatale, contending with a drunk old buddy and an estranged family unit, and tiptoeing through a massive ice storm that's blanketed the area.

Basically, The Ice Harvest would make a great double feature with Martin Scorsese's brilliant "all in one night" nightmare known as After Hours. Both films are laden with darkly bizarre characters, humor that wavers between goofy and grim, and a few surprisingly intense plot contortions that you probably won't see coming. The Ice Harvest has the soul of a cynical old noir story mixed with a few small glimmers of hope that somehow manage to peek through the snow-caked streets.

Plus it's got John Cusack, arguably one of my generation's most adored, yet oddly underappreciated, leading men. The fact that Charlie Arglist is played by John Cusack sets The Ice Harvest off on the right foot. With another actor it might take 40 minutes of running time before we understand how we're supposed to feel about this guy -- but with Cusack in the role, we know the score from frame one: He's a devious little bugger, sure, but we'll pull for this character because, hey, it's John Cusack.

As Charlie's duplicitous crime-partner Vic, Billy Bob Thornton is, of course, a profane and intense presence. We're not sure how much we can trust Vic, and Thornton plays it perfectly. Oliver Platt is on hand as a drunk who, at first, seems like little more than "the comic relief," but as The Ice Harvest rolls on, his character becomes the indispensable heart and soul of the movie. On top of all this you can toss some winning contributions from Connie Nielsen as a two-faced hottie and Randy Quaid as a bombastic crime boss, a screenplay with a devilishly dour disposition, and more than a few unexpected twists...

Tightly paced, consistently efficient, and completely, darkly entertaining throughout, The Ice Harvest is one of 2005's most annoyingly overlooked flicks, and it's a neo-noir heist comedy that I plan to revisit several times over the next few years. Maybe it's just that I've been so starved for a "grown-up" comedy that I'm affording The Ice Harvest a bit more affection than it deserves ... but I love nothing more than discovering a flick that got unfairly shafted during its theatrical release -- and then helping to spread the word to my fellow film geeks.

( Review reprinted from DVDTalk, with permission from the author (me) and the DVDT management. For the full DVD specs on this particular movie, please visit and get friendly with the search bar.)

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originally posted: 02/19/06 07:50:32
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Austin Film Festival For more in the 2005 Austin Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

12/25/17 JD Daynes The perfect Christmas film for anyone who's not feeling Christmas. I love it! 5 stars
2/25/14 Uowxoxqj Hemsley is one of the back of a binary options strategy coincidence to overlook., <a href=" 2 stars
12/20/13 Ken Markson Great film! It's poor showing must be the result of advertizing a comedy - which it's not! 5 stars
9/13/11 Tim Darkly funny and richly involving - too bad it didn't get better reception when released. 4 stars
12/04/08 Shaun Wallner Great Cast!! 4 stars
5/14/08 Matt Even the excellent Billy Bob can't stop this from being soooooo forgettable. 2 stars
5/09/07 David Pollastrini not great, not terrible 3 stars
3/30/07 fools&#9835;gold If you're too careful, you won't laugh, and you'll be bored, and that's why it's great. 4 stars
1/28/07 mets1986 Very underrated..Oliver Platt is fantastic 5 stars
10/18/06 AJ Muller well-done flick, dark laughs, great turns by primo cast 4 stars
7/05/06 Phil M. Aficionado Feel I should like it more because of the actors, but it suffers from genre confusion 3 stars
3/07/06 Monday Morning VERY disappointing work from H.Ramis. Wasn't good comedy, black or otherwise. 2 stars
12/02/05 The Don Johnson 60 minutes suck, 30 minutes are hilarious. Drunken Oliver Platt is extremely funny. 3 stars
11/29/05 soldi its ok but not so good not worth going to it in cinema just rent it when it comes out 3 stars
11/28/05 KingNeutron Lots of good dialogue, and a couple of shockers. 4 stars
11/28/05 Elizabeth S It's bleak, violent and filled with lowlifes . . .but I liked it! 3 stars
11/26/05 khalid30 ok 3 stars
11/25/05 Idiot_for_LMP Cusack as always stellar performance! Go See! 4 stars
11/25/05 baseball-nut I'd suggest John Cusack stick with the serious stuff, he's not a very good comedian! 2 stars
11/07/05 mahgoney ubelivably great 5 stars
10/24/05 Drew Ebanks 'Written by' category should include the novelist Scott Phillips 4 stars
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  23-Nov-2005 (R)
  DVD: 28-Feb-2006

  03-Feb-2006 (15)


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