Monday, November 28, 2005
The Ice Harvest will leave you cold.
I'm a fan of dark humor or black comedy as it's often called. Especially movies like Fargo, Dr. Strangelove and Bad Santa which involve difficult to obnoxiuous/bad characters involved in situations that you laugh at and cringe at, at the same time.
This can be difficult to achieve.
When the writing and acting work, this can make a terrific black comedy. When it doesn't, you get The Ice Harvest.
Seemingly, everything was laid out for this film to work. A good cast (John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton and Oliver Platt) who have done excellent work in the past. A favorite director in Harold Ramis, who along with his movie work did some great stuff on the original SCTV, so how could this fail?
The story, a Wichita Falls lawyer and strip club owner (Cusack and Thornton) partner up to swindle over 2 million dollars from the local mob. They collect the cash on Christmas Eve, and then.....
Well, nothing really. The characters meander around town in a (not necessary) ice storm. Along the way, Oliver Platt joins (for no story apparent reason) to meander with them. There's some violence, with characters killing, maiming and threatening other characters, but... big deal. We have no concern for any of these one dimensional protagonists, so who cares what happens to them?
The Ice Harvest is the blueprint of how NOT to make a dark comedy. They fail on all counts as every supposed funny line and bit falls flat on it's face.
I should have known though, really I should have. Despite the talent involved, the advertising should have warned me. Both the television and print ads described themselves as this years' Bad Santa or as the anti-Christmas film. Anytime films immediately begin comparing themselves to something that was much better or as "this years ____", you know that you're in trouble.
Now I'll never get that time (and $9.25) back that I wasted on Friday. The Ice Harvest gets a frozen: