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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Drama > Heist > The Ice Harvest (Universal DVD)

The Ice Harvest


Picture: B     Sound: B-     Extras: C     Film: C



Comic actor Harold Ramis is behind the camera again directing, this time with the heist comedy The Ice Harvest (2005), but even his fine cast cannot overcome a sense of frivolity and déjà vu from the surprisingly bad Richard Russo/Robert Benton screenplay.  John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton play friends who just robbed a few million dollars.  Of course, that kind of cash will test their relationship, but they are good for now.  However, the money is stolen from some organized crime types and they are going to have to be very clever in order to hold onto it and spend it.


Unfortunately, what starts out as a potentially serious, smart and interesting situation quickly digresses into a wasting of some top talent (also starring Randy Quaid, Connie Nielsen and Oliver Platt way out of his element) with some of the most infantile non-stop dialogue we have run into for a long time.  The big problem may be that comedy director Ramis (Analyze This, Analyze That, Groundhog Day) does not know whether to play it as a comedy, dark comedy or comic drama.  The resulting confusion creates an amazing mess that just gets worse and worse.


Saddest of all is if Ramis had just eliminated the dialogue that made all of this seem unrealistic, infantile and stupid, then played it more seriously with touches of comedy, the resulting tension and great actors he had would have created a really good film.  As I watched, it was like a 100 vehicle pile-up slowly happening on the cinematic superhighway.  That makes The Ice Harvest one of the biggest missed opportunities in a while.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image is surprisingly good for a film that likes to have purposely toned down color.  It is likely because this is one of the first films Universal wants intends to issue in the new HD-DVD format that this one looks so good, but cinematographer Alar Kavilo, A.S.C., C.S.C., cannot avoid being haunted by The Coen Brothers’ Fargo any more than the screenplay can.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is not bad, with dialogue that is recorded clearly enough.  Extras include director Ramis’ audio commentary, outtakes, two alternate endings that did not make a difference and three featurettes.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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