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The Ice Harvest (R)

Release Date: November 23rd, 2005 by Focus Features.
The Cast: John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, Connie Nielsen, Randy Quiad, Oliver Platt, Ned Bellamy.
Directed by Harold Ramis.

BASIC PREMISE: Charlie (Cusack) and Vic (Thornton) steal over 2 million dollars from Bill (Quiad), but they get stuck in town during an ice storm.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Dark comedy has rarely been this much fun. What makes The Ice Harvest so entertaining is that it never takes itself too seriously. The plot seems derived from a number of robbery-gone-wrong capers—especially the ones with dumb cops and dumber robbers. There’s Renata (Nielsen), the sexy owner of a strip club who cheers Charlie on so that he can take the money and run off with her. One thing leads to another and Vic, Charlie’s associate, solves his problems by using his gun. The plot just gets more and more twisted but it never feels tedious thanks to brisk pacing and crisp dialogue, especially between Vic and Charlie. In a humorous recurring scene, a local policeman catches Charlie in suspicious or simply unlawful situations but always lets him go with a warning. Too bad Marge Gunderson, the smart police sheriff from Fargo , is not around. The setting during the ice storm on Christmas Eve makes for some silly slapstick scenes, but, essentially, it’s just a plot device to trap the robbers in the small town where nobody can be trusted. Cusack and Thornton are both superbly cast and add panache to their characters. Also, Oliver Platt has great comic timing as Pete, a friend of Charlie becomes involved with the plot in quite unexpected, wacky ways. There’s violence to spare and even some nudity, but it’s all harmless fun.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: Throughout this film, the love of money (a.k.a. greed)is the root of all evil. Be careful who you trust.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: A few clichés, such as the dumb cop.


THE BOTTOM LINE: Fargo meets Bad Santa ! Crisp dialogue, darkly humorous and enjoyably twisted!

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)

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