The Ice Harvest (2005) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
3Feb/110

The Ice Harvest (2005)

Danny no longer writes for Can't Stop the Movies, and can be reached at his fantastic site Pre-Code.com

Danny DISLIKEOkay, I've seen a lot of movies. It's been a while since I've seen a movie as unbearably shitty as The Ice Harvest, but I'll get to more of that in a minute.

My roommate and almost lifelong best friend Sam has not seen a lot of movies. You can chalk this up to a number of things, ranging from disinterest to his love of those virtual video games with the Marios and Luigis and I don't know what that the kids seem to like these days. This leaves Sam being a little more forgiving towards movies than I am, as evidenced by that copy of Grandma's Boy he keeps on his shelf.

All that being said, neither of us could make a goddamn lick of sense out of The Ice Harvest.

Starring John Cusack, a man who is challenging Marlon Brando's record for being an actor without acting (eleven years!), The Ice Harvest is the story of a mob lawyer who figures out how to steal some money and get away with it. His troubles begin almost immediately and, since he is in Kansas, that alone puts him so far behind that he'll be lucky to make it out alive.

Billy Bob Thornton plays Cusack's partner, the man who encouraged him to take the money. At this point in his career, Thornton was apparently on an 'All Christmas Films' agenda, and it's strange to note how much more infinitely finessed the more pedestrian sounding Bad Santa was than this. Bad Santa is the goddamn Godfather of Christmas movies compared to this; Ice Harvest sits on a level normally reserved for that one Rankin-Bass Christmas special about Jack Frost fighting robots or National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure (both of which actually exist).

"Look, I was in a Christmas movie a few years back and I got to nail  one of the Gilmore Girls! This can't possibly be as bad."

Let me reiterate, this is film is bad. As Cusack attempts to spend the night in Wichita Falls without getting murdered, he must navigate the twisty roads between a sultry strip club owner, a hammered ex-brother-in-law played by Oliver Platt, his frosty ex-wife, a hitman, Randy Quaid, and an ice storm unseen by mortal man since the movie The Ice Storm.

As it is, the plot feels dusty as soon as it's handed to the audience, and the whole endeavor is so far from reality that you kinda wish you would have gotten a postcard instead. Playing like a dumbed down version of Fargo for most of its runtime, it portrays Witchita Falls as a mobbed up bastion of sin and vice, where the innocents die (and are barely worth a punchline) early and often.

Only the guy who beats the shit out of an abusive boyfriend gets out of town without a gun at his head at some point. And while I'm sure that the moral of the story, which seems to involve that everyone is going to get shot or beaten up at some point or another so you might as well rob someone while you're at it, is a touching fable for Christmas time, it barely makes use out of its holiday setting for much more than awkward holiday hijinks.

And when I say a dumbed down Coen Brothers film, I guess what I'm trying to say is that it has an unmistakable nihilistic bent. While this is understandable (again, it's set in Kansas), it makes watching the film an unendurable chore. Cusack's sleepwalking, Thornton is barely in the damn thing, Platt overacts, the woman in the movie (I can narrow it down to one) is more two dimensional than the sleeve that the DVD came in from Netflix...

"Do I get my paycheck yet?" SCREW YOU, CUSACK.

In more stylish hands, this may have made a good noir, a fun caper movie, or a passable waste of time, but, as it is, it's unbelievably mediocre and awful in every way. Nothing here matters, feels authentic, or titillates. It's ugly brutality crossed with cynicism all wrapped up with a big apathetic bow named Cusack.

Fuck you, you shitty shitty movie.

Posted by Danny

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