Big question: John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton are two of the most appealing--and different--comic leads working today. But do we really need a morose movie about what happens when Mr. Nice Guy and Bad Santa steal $2 million on Christmas?
Catch it: "The Ice Harvest" is an odd twist on the Christmas crime movie and a strangely therapeutic use of the Cusack pout. He brings cold-hearted charm to Charlie Arglist, a divorced mob lawyer (and deep down decent guy) who teams up with a pornographer (Thornton) simply because he is unsure which is worse: doing the right thing the wrong way or the wrong thing the right way.
Skip it if: You're always blue around the holidays. "The Ice Harvest" may turn you purple.
Bottom line: Harold Ramis' not-especially-funny film merely masquerades as a wacky dark comedy. "The Ice Harvest" is actually a somber study of a man struggling to use his guilt-ridden guts to find happiness when his wits fail. It's grim, emotionally detached proof that sometimes crime is easy, but enjoying it can be a killer.
Bonus: If you're looking to move somewhere with a hoppin' strip club industry, avoid Wichita, Kan. It appears to specialize in strippers with as much spunk as a lump of coal.
'The Ice Harvest'
Directed by Harold Ramis; written by Richard Russo and Robert Benton; photographed by Alar Kivilo; edited by Lee Percy; production designed by Patrizia von Brandenstein; music by David Kitay; produced by Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa. A Focus Features release; opens Wednesday. Running time: 1:28. MPAA rating: R (violence, language and sexuality/nudity).
Charlie - John Cusack
Vic - Billy Bob Thornton
Renata - Connie Nielsen
Pete - Oliver Platt
Bill Guerrard - Randy QuaidCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun