Day 10 of the James Proclaims Advent Calendar Of Christmas(ish) films brings us The Ice Harvest.
Starring John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton and Connie Nielsen, and directed by Harold Ramis, it’s a Christmas-themed comic crime caper, with twists and turns galore.
Or so it first appears.
On paper it looks like it could be an absolute riot.
And it’s not bad.
But it’s not as good as it probably should be.
Harold Ramis was an actual Ghostbuster, lest we forget, and also the man who brought us Groundhog Day. The Ice Harvest doesn’t quite meet the expectations you might have based on that pedigree.
The twists seem largely predictable. The jokes don’t always land as well as they should, and while the performances of the cast are all fine, no-one shines. Thornton is probably the standout performer – the understated menace of his character ‘Vic’ is something of a precursor to his later work as ‘Lorne Malvo’ in season 1 of the outstanding Fargo, but, even for a film as short as this, he is probably underused.
The Ice Harvest is an easy film to like but a little harder to love.
I’d probably watch it again though.
Score For Christmasishness
The action is entirely set on Christmas Eve and, at the start of the film it’s Christmasishness is very much in the foreground. Festive music, a man dressed as Santa and Christmas trees are all present.
As are Christmas presents.
There are numerous scenes throughout the movie that remind us of the season and, if not central to the plot, Christmas certainly doesn’t feel irrelevant to the larger story.
You probably could set this movie at a different time of year, but actually, it’s likely to be the Christmas theme which serves as the basis for repeat viewings, and it’s that which might elevate what initially seems like a forgettable film into something a touch more memorable.