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THE ICE HARVEST (2005)

Director: Harold Ramis

Screenplay: Richard Russo & Robert Benton (From novel by Scott Phillips)

Cast: John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, Oliver Platt, Connie Nielsen, Randy Quaid, Mike Starr

MPAA Rating: R for violence, language and sexuality/nudity
Color, approx 88 minutes

Genre: Black Comedy, Drama, Thriller, Crime

Reviewed by Jim Lewis

"The Ice Harvest" stars John Cusack as a small scale mob attorney who gets involved in defrauding a local mob boss (Randy Quaid) out of two million dollars. He has partnered with Billy Bob Thornton, a strip club owner for the rip-off. Under the opening credits we see that there are trust issues between the partners in crime. Then the mob boss starts checking around, word gets out that a known hit-man is asking questions, and a local beauty is involved somehow.

I think this film is in an odd category. Itís more of a thriller, or Film Noir, and the comic moments made my eyes widen rather caused a laugh. I enjoyed the film to some degree, watching with more curiosity than interest. I would consider this film a real treat if I came across it while channel surfing in the middle of the night.

I often watch DVDís twice before reviewing, but I resisted viewing number two. It wasnít enjoyable enough to warrant it. There is much going on, some twists, the two stars are both watchable, but they play criminals. I wasnít rooting for one or the other, then I hoped that one partner wouldnít prevail and that no one would be hurt. Silly me.

I was put off originally by the title. Hollywood tries to catch fans of "Basic Instinct" by naming a trash film "Basic Danger" or "Serious Instinct." I was repulsed by the trick here, associating the Ice portion with Ang Leeís "Ice Storm," a critical success but viewing toil. I had to be in the right mood to watch.

The second flaw in promotion (for me) was the slapstick trailer with shots being fired from within a footlocker. It wasnít funny or realistic. I have too much Sopranos and Goodfellas in me to tolerate such silliness.

There is a scene on a pier over a frozen lake that is memorable, and the DVD extra showing how and where the scene was shot is worth checking out. If you watch with friends, you can discuss why it only made nine million at the box office.

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