The Ice Harvest

Film
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Time Out says

And a fallow harvest it is. Normally it's exciting when directors stray from expectations, as Caddyshack's Harold Ramis has done with this noirish crime caper about a crooked lawyer (Cusack) and his smoothie pal (Thornton) defrauding the mob out of millions. But Ramis has come up with such a stale compendium of clichs from the mid-'90s playbook?ulp Fiction's tangential diatribes and Fargo's chilly Midwestern vistas chief among them?hat his movie barely feels defrosted.

Based on Scott Phillips's retro 2000 novel and adapted by power writing duo Robert Benton and Richard Russo, The Ice Harvest probably read well enough on the page, a tight little genre piece set on Christmas Eve in the seedier strip clubs of Wichita. But Ramis is too hermetic a stylist to make the pungent setting come to life (that very same dryness worked aces in the surreal Groundhog Day).

More deleteriously, the performances are exactly would you'd expect from the well-known cast: Cusack is—surprise!—bumbling and boyish, Thornton is wry and weary, while Connie Nielsen has subjected herself to an especially crude femme fatale part, all bra straps and arched eyebrows. Only Oliver Platt, playing a perpetually soused colleague of Cusack's, brings the movie to comic life ("I scratched my tummy," he notes pathetically after being dragged outside by a bar's bouncer). When he's offscreen, you just want to go back into hibernation. (See Now playing for venues.)
—Joshua Rothkopf

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