The Ice Harvest

Every Christmas, some crappy holiday themed movie arrives in theaters to torture everybody. Last year it was the insipid Christmas with the Kranks, this year it's The Ice Harvest, based on the novel by Scott Phillips. This reviewer has never read the novel, and after watching the adaptation, has no desire to. The Ice Harvest is from director Harold Ramis (Analyze That, Bedazzled), who typically sticks with comedies. This film is billed as a "dark comedy." The problem is that it is neither dark nor funny. It is a wearisome affair about stolen mob money on Christmas Eve.

The main issue with this film is the script, by Richard Russo and Robert Benton (Twilight, Nobody's Fool). The aim is for subtle, dark humor full of wit and irony. They do not achieve this. Instead, Russo, Benton, and Ramis has some colorful setting and the beginnings of a decent story, they just fail to take it anywhere. The story gradually gets darker as people begin to turn on each other, but nothing is ever engaging. By the time something happens, the viewer is long gone, thinking about what they need to buy their family and friends for Christmas.

The money, a little bit more than $2 million, is from mobster Bill Guerrard (Randy Quaid, Home on the Range, Grind). Guerrard owns a bunch of seedy strip clubs in Wichita Falls, Kansas, where, as the many of the characters frequently point out, nothing happens. Everybody wants to leave, especially Charlie Arglist (John Cusack, Must Love Dogs, Runaway Jury). Arglist is Guerrard's lawyer, and masterminded the heist with Vic Cavanaugh (Billy Bob Thornton, Bad News Bears, Friday Night Lights). The plan is simple. Take the money, split up for a few hours, then reconvene and get away with it. But things are never easy in films like this.

And herein lies another problem. The Ice Harvest is too complicated for its own good. In trying to create red herrings, clever twists, or neat dialogue, the film bogs itself down. Arglist is in love with Renata (Connie Nielsen, The Great Raid, Brothers), an owner of one of the strip clubs. She's just as bored with life in Kansas as he is. His friend Pete Van Heuten (Oliver Platt, Kinsey, Pieces of April) is constantly drunk and saying more than he should about everything. As the night progresses, Arglist becomes increasingly edgy. He is suspicious of everybody, including his friends. There are no 'good guys' here, and every single person here is the type of person that may double cross him. Although it sounds potentially interesting, it never gets past the point of being boring.

Haro Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 28 minutes, Rated R for violence, language, and sexuality/nudity.

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