The Ice Harvest

How about something a little nasty for the holidays? Harold Ramis' take on crime writer Scott Phillips' hard-boiled yuletide noir may be just what Santa ordered. It's Christmas Eve in Kansas, and mob lawyer Charlie Arglist (John Cusack) and his partner in crime, Vincent "Vic" Cavanaugh (Billy Bob Thornton), have just helped themselves to an early Christmas...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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How about something a little nasty for the holidays? Harold Ramis' take on crime writer Scott Phillips' hard-boiled yuletide noir may be just what Santa ordered. It's Christmas Eve in Kansas, and mob lawyer Charlie Arglist (John Cusack) and his partner in crime, Vincent "Vic" Cavanaugh (Billy Bob Thornton), have just helped themselves to an early Christmas present: $2.2 million belonging to their boss, Bill Geurrard (Randy Quaid), who owns just about every strip club and massage parlor in greater Wichita, including the one Vic manages. With the duffle bag of tightly bundled bills safely hidden with Vic — or so Charlie hopes — all these guys have to do is sit tight till morning, when they can split the cash, head to the airport and go their separate ways for good. Charlie, however, starts to get antsy when he drops in on leggy Renata (Connie Nielsen) — a beautiful brunette who runs the Sweet Cage strip club for Geurrard — and hears that one of Geurrard's goons has been looking for him. Renata is too preoccupied with her own worries to pay Charlie much mind: Come the new year, crusading Councilman Williams (David Pasquesi) has vowed to enforce the new no-nude-dancing law, and unless she can get her hands on that incriminating photo featuring the good councilman in a very compromising position with a dancer named Cupcake (Jenny Wade), Renata will be out of a job. Charlie promises to get the photo for her — it just happens to be in Vic's safe at the Velvet Touch — but instead he winds up baby-sitting his drunken friend Peter Van Heuten (Oliver Platt), who's now married to Charlie's frostier-than-Frosty ex-wife, Sarabeth (Justine Bentley), and is deeply unhappy about it. By the time he gets Peter home and makes his way to the Velvet Touch, the place is empty. There's a big pool of blood on the floor, and someone has left a finger in a vice, but there's no sign of Vic. You just know the double-cross is coming, but not knowing when and from where is part of what keeps this tight little comedic thriller cooking. The other ingredients are the acidic chemistry between Cusack and Thornton, the refreshingly intelligent dialogue and a thoughtful script by Robert Benton, who previously put a fine polish on noir conventions in such adult thrillers as THE LATE SHOW, STILL OF THE NIGHT and TWILIGHT, and novelist Richard Russo, whose Nobody's Fool was adapted by Benton into an Oscar-nominated film in 1994.

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  • Released: 2005
  • Rating: R
  • Review: How about something a little nasty for the holidays? Harold Ramis' take on crime writer Scott Phillips' hard-boiled yuletide noir may be just what Santa ordered. It's Christmas Eve in Kansas, and mob lawyer Charlie Arglist (John Cusack) and his partner in… (more)

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