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The Ice Harvest (2005)


Average Rating: 5.5/10
Reviews Counted: 130
Fresh: 60
Rotten: 70

Critics Consensus: The Ice Harvest offers a couple of laughs, but considering the people involved, it should be a lot funnier.

Average Rating: 5.6/10
Reviews Counted: 35
Fresh: 17
Rotten: 18

Critics Consensus: The Ice Harvest offers a couple of laughs, but considering the people involved, it should be a lot funnier.


Average Rating: 2.9/5
User Ratings: 60,174


Movie Info

In icebound Wichita, Kan., its Christmas Eve, and this year Charlie Arglist just might have something to celebrate. Charlie, an attorney for the sleazy businesses of Wichita, and his unsavory associate, the steely Vic Cavanaugh have just successfully embezzled $2 million from Kansas City boss Bill Guerrard. But the real prize for Charlie is the stunning Renata, who runs the Sweet Cage strip club. Charlie hopes to slip out of town with Renata. But as daylight fades and an ice storm whirls, … More

R (for violence, language and sexuality/nudity)
Action & Adventure , Mystery & Suspense , Comedy
Directed By:
Written By:
Robert Benton , Richard Russo
In Theaters:
Feb 28, 2006
Box Office:
Focus Features - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for The Ice Harvest

All Critics (139) | Top Critics (37) | Fresh (60) | Rotten (70) | DVD (22)

Robert Benton and Harold Ramis, put on dunce caps and go stand in the corner.

January 3, 2006
The New Republic
Top Critic

Nielsen's Renata is icy cold in her calculations, and an object lesson in how to play a lethal charmer plausibly without losing any of her erotic appeal. She alone is worth the price of admission.

Full Review… | December 7, 2005
New York Observer
Top Critic

The comedy in The Ice Harvest comes in shades of dark and darker. That's my kind of humor.

Full Review… | November 29, 2005
Ebert & Roeper
Top Critic

The Ice Harvest is like Sin City without the bold style and crooked smile, disgorging grisly bloodbaths without drawing artful things out of them.

Full Review… | November 28, 2005
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic

... a thriller that's not very thrilling but is as violent as the best of them.

Full Review… | November 28, 2005
Toronto Star
Top Critic

The Ice Harvest isn't a subversive piece of work; it's not making some grand statement about the dark side of the holiday spirit. But what it is saying in its grimly funny way is that we can't always control the timing of our disasters.

Full Review… | November 28, 2005
Christian Science Monitor
Top Critic

Dead cold

Full Review… | September 1, 2009

...generally comes off as an effective adaptation of Scott Phillips' admittedly superior novel...

Full Review… | May 12, 2008
Reel Film Reviews

When a lot of you tell me you want intelligent movies made by adults for adults, you're asking for movies like this one.

Full Review… | September 24, 2007

A great cast, a script by Oscar-winning veteran Robert Benton, with Richard Russo, and direction by Harold Ramis still don't add up to much more than a shrug.

Full Review… | April 21, 2006
Combustible Celluloid

90% cynicism / 10% hope, and it's jammed full of funny performances, dark divergences, and a low-key air of existential angst that you simply don't see in many multiplex movies. I love this one.

Full Review… | February 18, 2006

There's an enjoyably pulpy vibe to The Ice Harvest, aided considerably by the performance of a flame-haired, throaty-voiced Connie Nielsen who vamps it up like a 1940s femme fatale.

Full Review… | February 2, 2006

Both unfunny and rather gruesome

Full Review… | January 14, 2006
Shadows on the Wall

Memo to John Cusack: There's a thin line between humorous unflappability in the face of strange events, and sleepwalking.

Full Review… | December 24, 2005

A total (bomb), the wrong project for almost everyone involved.

December 15, 2005
Eclipse Magazine

It's perfectly possible to enjoy The Ice Harvest, just as soon as you recognize it as Harold Ramis' willful attempt to thwart every expectation he's built up in his career as a cineplex funster.

Full Review… | December 10, 2005
Orlando Weekly

... the film's difficult genre straddling never quite congeals.

Full Review… | December 10, 2005
Austin Chronicle

A film populated by nasty characters who spend nearly 90 minutes doing nasty things to one another. That some of those things are darkly funny helps, but not enough to merit a viewing.

Full Review… | December 2, 2005

How I wish I hadn't seen "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" just days before I saw "The Ice Harvest."

Full Review… | December 2, 2005
Quad City Times (Davenport, IA)

...An enjoyable early Christmas present...

Full Review… | December 2, 2005
Star-Democrat (Easton, MD)

Another barren black comedy that skates a thin line between bad taste and gift-wrapped stupidity.

Full Review… | December 1, 2005

Feels too much like Coen Brothers Lite -- and it's too busy nailing down the cynicism to worry too much about the quirkiness that tends to make the Coens' work palatable.

Full Review… | December 1, 2005
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

As an exercise in neo-noir, the film is surprisingly inert, and as a dark comedy, it fails to offer many laughs.

Full Review… | November 30, 2005
Creative Loafing

Viewers are likely to leave this movie not having laughed as much as they expected, not having gotten as many thrills as they hoped for and ambivalent to the experience.

Full Review… | November 30, 2005

Audience Reviews for The Ice Harvest


Charlie Arglist: As Wichita falls... so falls Wichita Falls.

"'Twas the night before Christmas"

The Ice Harvest is a good little, dark comedy-thriller that has more than just shades of Fargo all over it. This was a fun movie for me. I loved the story and I liked John Cusack as the lead and the supporting cast just helped add more to the whole film experience. I fail to see why this has been so negatively reviewed. Maybe people expected something different, maybe people think it is just a rip-off, but in my mind, this is a worthwhile and really fun movie that doesn't take itself to seriously, but also doesn't give itself completely over to ridiculousness. 

Charlie Arglist is a mob lawyer in Wichita, Kansas. It's Christmas Eve and the bad freezing rain is expected to fall all night. Charlie and his friend Vic have just embezzled $2 million from the local mob and now they're just waiting out the rain so they can get out of town. Crimes such as this normally don't go unknown though and soon after successfully getting the money, Charlie begins to think that the mob is looking for him and Vic. 

While this isn't wholly original, it's a fun movie that I enjoyed. Every second was entertaining and there is suspense around every corner. I don't understand how so many people could think this was boring. That seems like the one thing it isn't. The movie is dark, funny, wacky, silly, exciting, fun, and suspenseful. Boring is the one thing that never came to my mind while watching The Ice Harvest. So give it a look if you get a chance.

Melvin White

Super Reviewer

Its a rainy Christmas in Wichita, 1979, icy rain and cold, when small time mob lawyer Cusack decides to skim a little moolah from mean ol'boss Quaid's illegal loot. Luckily his friends want to help him out (outta the goodness of their widdle hearts!) before he gets permanently iced but good in this wee bit of a enjoyable comic noirfest surprisingly directed by Harold Ramis.

Apeneck Fletcher

Super Reviewer


I was expecting something pretty good with this film, but I was disappointed. With a great cast of actors and interesting story, I'm surprised that the filmmakers couldn't have created anything better than what this film turned out to be. This is a pretty bad film, and I was disappointed because the cast and story were promising. However the film just didn't do it for me. As far as a dark comedy is concerned, this one just doesn't have what it takes and it is plainly a bad film that not even with the good cast at hand, they weren't able to save it from failing. This film could have been great, but it isn't. Harold Ramis over the years has made some great comedy classics, but nowadays he's losing his touch. The Ice Harvest is a boring film that you'll lose interest after a while. I thought that the film could have been much better considering the cast and director. However Harold Ramis can't seem to direct something consistent here. In the end, this is a boring film that could have been better. I think that the black humor elements could have been reworked as well, as even by those humor standards, it didn't do anything to make this film stand out. This film could have been good, but it was just a poorly made film with nothing interesting going for it. I was very disappointed in this film, thought it could have been much better than what it turned out to be.

Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

Terrible and boring.

Sophie Burgess

Super Reviewer

The Ice Harvest Quotes

Pete Van Heuten:
Everybody has regrets. Guys our age, what else is there?
– Submitted by Frances H (21 months ago)
Charlie Arglist:
It's all a matter of character. Of course, if I had any character, I wouldn't have stolen 2 million dollars from my boss.
– Submitted by Frances H (21 months ago)
Charlie Arglist:
People always say that there's no such thing as the perfect crime. But I don't agree with that.
– Submitted by Frances H (21 months ago)
Vic Cavanaugh:
Only morons are nice at christmas.
– Submitted by Wesley W (22 months ago)

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