Like my book reviews site, these are movie reviews I write for entertainment purposes only. These are just my reviews and my opinions. They are not endorsed by Blogger or any movie studios or anyone else. So there. I borrowed my scoring system from the Metacritic site, which does not imply an endorsement from them, although I think they do have a very nice website. I convert the 1-100 scores into 1-4 stars, essentially it works like this:

1 star = 25 points
2 stars = 50 points
3 stars = 75 points
4 stars = 100 points

And then if something falls about halfway between, then I'll give it an added half-star.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Ice Harvest

Nothing quite says the holiday like stealing $2 million from your boss and plotting to skip town with your best friend the local porn dealer.  Unlike heist movies like "Ocean's 11" the crime isn't the central focus of the store.  It's getting away with it that's the problem.

Stealing the money turns out to be incredibly easy.  Charlie (John Cusack) is a mob lawyer in Wichita, Kansas who simply goes into the bank and has the manager put a bunch of money in a sack.  He goes out to where his friend and porn dealer Vic (Billy Bob Thornton) is waiting.  The smart thing to do would probably be to drive straight out of town, but for vague reasons (bad weather, it being XMas Eve) they stay in town overnight with Vic holding on to the money.

This leaves Charlie to hang around town.  He goes to a strip club owned by Renata (Connie Nielsen), whom he has a thing for though he's too chicken to act on it.  He works up the courage to do a favor for her by stealing some blackmail photos Vic has hidden in a safe.  Before he can deliver these, he learns that Roy, an enforcer for Charlie's boss, is looking for him.  Things get even worse when Charlie is pressed into being designated driver to Pete (Oliver Platt) who is married to Charlie's ex-wife.

At only about 80 minutes, this film doesn't take much time to expand on the characters or their relationships.  Charlie's ex-wife and two kids appear in one scene and other than buying some gas station toys for them he really seems to give them little consideration.  Charlie seems reconciled with losing his wife and seems almost happy that Pete is stuck dealing with her.

Since the big crime took place in the first two minutes, there's really not much for the movie to do.  As I said, it would have seemed smart to simply keep on driving straight out of town.  Some double-crosses and such are worked into the plot to make it a little more interesting, though it's definitely a bush league caper/heist film.  It reminds me a lot of "Lucky Numbers" with John Travolta trying to rig the lottery that was trying to be as smart and clever of a crime movie as "Get Shorty" and couldn't pull it off.

The bottom line is that everyone in this movie from the actors to director Harold Ramis (director of "Groundhog Day" and star in "Stripes" and "Ghostbusters" among others) to Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and co-writer Richard Russo have done better work than this.  While a substandard crime movie, it's also not nearly as much raunchy XMas fun as "Bad Santa" which also starred Billy Bob Thornton.  The boobs, violence, and f-bombs just don't add to the fun, perhaps because neither character is a drunk Santa.

In any event, I wouldn't waste your time or money on this when there are many better crime movies and holiday movies out there.

That is all.

BTW, did you know that Billy Bob Thornton has a group called the Boxmasters with an XMas CD?  Neither did I until Amazon gave one of the tracks away for free.

My score:  50/100 (2 stars)

Metacritic score:  62/100 (2.5 stars)

No comments:

Post a Comment