Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Ice Harvest

Being in the mood for a little holiday cheer, Judy and I decided to watch a Christmas movie. The Ice Harvest figured to be just what we needed.

It's Christmas in Wichita, and Charlie (John Cusak) and Vic (Billy Bob Thornton) have just stolen a couple million bucks from Guerrard (Randy Quaid). They figure it's a perfect crime. All they have to do is behave normally for one night, and the next morning they leave town with the money.

Who's to hold the money until they leave? They haven't discussed that. Vic makes it clear that he's the guy. Charlie leaves and tries to act normally. Doesn't work. First thing you know, he's ordering drinks with umbrellas in them at his topless bar. Then he sees Guerrard's best boy looking for him, and that's bad news. He goes to a restaurant to talk to Vic and meets up with Pete (Oliver Platt), who's married to Charlie's ex-wife and living Charlie's ex-life, a life he's desperate to get out of.

Things hum along with everybody double-crossing everybody else until there's a last man standing. The movie doesn't end like the book, and whether that's good or bad is something you'll have to decide for yourself.

I found the movie very funny and entertaining, if a little slow at the start. It's also plenty violent. The movie's comedy is all of the dark kind. Cusak is great, and he makes you believe a guy who owns a topless bar and is a mob lawyer can be a good guy at heart. This isn't easy, considering some of the things he does in the course of the movie, but Cusak pulls it off. Thornton plays one of his patented roles, rotten to the core but covering it up very well until the chips are down. Oliver Platt is hilarious and nearly steals the movie. And then there's Renata (Connie Nielsen). Did I mention her? She looks like a cross between Jessica Rabbit and Lauren Bacall.

If you're looking for a different kind of holiday movie, this one should do just fine. Check it out.


Anonymous said...

I have not yet watched this flick because I assumed the setting was changed to Chicago. Since I used to live in Wichita I had hoped that they would film it there, but when I read it was filming in Chicago I gave up hope.

I enjoyed the book, and it's "sort of" sequel.

Unknown said...

If the movie was filmed in Chicago, it's hard to tell it. The setting is mostly topless bars and family homes. No sign of the city, really.

Graham Powell said...

I liked the movie but felt John Cusack was too nice as Charlie. In the movie, Charlie buys some presents for his kids because he feels guilty. In the book, Charlie buys them because he thinks he should feel guilty.

And Oliver Platt, one of my favorite actors, was hilarious.

Anonymous said...

We rented the movie tonight based on your recommendation and really enjoyed it. I would emphasize the humor - there are some great lines in this flick.

Unknown said...

It's very funny, all right, but as I said, the humor is pretty dark for the most part.

Juri said...

The book is a masterpiece (I'd nominate it one of the ten great crime novels), full of humour, but I noticed only when I started reciting stuff from it to my wife. Especially the scene in the bar with the air rifle is hilarious.

But I didn't see the film, though. The director's oeuvre is discouraging, to me.

Anonymous said...

I saw this when it first came out, Bill, and was disappointed overall. The whole thing felt lethargic. There were some fine acting performances in it, but the whole, to me, was less than the sum of its parts.

I kept thinking about that Dana Carvey/John Lovitz Christmas caper comedy "Trapped in Paradise" the whole time. Not a good sign.