Reviewed by: Sheri McMurray
|Featuring:||John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Platt, Randy Quaid|
|Producer:||Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa|
Every time you buy a movie ticket or rent a video you are casting a vote telling Hollywood “That’s what I want.” Why does Hollywood continue to promote immoral programming? Are YOU part of the problem?
Thick thieves. Thin Ice.
Peace does not dwell in outward things, but in the heart prepared to wait trustfully and quietly on Him who has all things safely in His hands. —Elisabeth Elliot
Psalm 137: By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion. On the willows there we hung up our lyres. For there our captors required of us songs, and our tormentors, mirth, saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” How shall we sing the LORD’s song in a foreign land? If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither! Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy! Remember, O LORD, against the E’domites the day of Jerusalem, how they said, “Raise it, raise it! Down to its foundations!” O daughter of Babylon, you devastator! Happy shall he be who requites you with what you have done to us! Happy shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock!
Our captors, of course, are the things of this world. Winding us up and causing us to sing songs that may sound right as we sing them, but after we are done, we must pay the devil the cost. The devil lurks at Christmas time. He is swaggering around, trying his best to get our attention off the things of Christ, and into degradation. The movie folks have done a good job of defacing all that is holy, not only in Christmas, but in basic human existence in “The Ice Harvest.”
I like the title. It sounds like a movie filled with intrigue and perhaps a bit of romance. Unfortunately, it is neither. I also assumed it would have solid characters since Billy Bob Thornton was among the top named cast. Wrong again. Mr. Thornton seems to be getting himself into a pattern as the leader of a liberal Hollywood attack on Christmas—first with “Bad Santa,” now “The Ice Harvest,” playing this time when we celebrate the birth of our Savior for irony.
“The Ice Harvest” follows the last 12 hours of Christmas eve (a take, though subtle, on the last 12 hours of Christ’s Earthly life in The Passion) in a cold, snowbound, repellent side of life in Wichita, Kansas.
Charlie Arglist (John Cusack doing a great job of low key humor and pathos), a lawyer to Wichita’s richest bums and mobsters and his producer of porno films friend Vic (Billy Bob Thornton, always cool and slimy at the same time), together decide they can actually embezzle two million from Kansas kingpin Bill Guerrard (Randy Quaid) and make a clean getaway. Yeah, right.
Charlie spends his Christmas Eve trying to act normal, as Vic has instructed him, until they can figure out a way to get outta town, unseen by the henchmen sent by big Bill to find that duffle bag full of crisp new wampum. Embezzling would be much simpler and less detectible done through online transfers in this day and age, but the fact these guys have a bulging duffle bag full of money to lug around is suppose to add to the humor. That and the fact that they’ve done the deed with absolutely no planning, and now are figuring out step two while the mob is literally inches away at any given moment.
As “The Little Drummer Boy” plays sweetly in the background, we are subject to vile acts of pornography, murder, lewdness, corruption, smut, obscenity, lust, lasciviousness, and slander. Apparently for Charlie to “act normal” he must visit every stripper establishment in town, drinking and throwing up along the way. This is da life! The Velvet Touch is run by femme fatale Renata (Connie Nielsen), a sort of sleazy Jessica Rabbit type, with a subdued whisper-growl voice, low-cut cami and high-slit pencil skirt. Because Charlie can’t take his eyes off her, we’re suppose to assume it’s real love and not just plain lust.
The best friend Charlie can come up with is pathetic Pete (tragic Oliver Platt with possibly the best performance in this farce), a perspiring, overweight drunk who just happens to be married to Charlie’s ex wife and absolutely miserable (Pete, not the ex wife). I personally couldn’t figure out why she left handsome Charlie for sweaty, low-life Pete, except that this was supposed to be a funny plot twist. Poor Pete whispers, in despair, “I can’t do my life,” and then passes out in a drunken stupor. That’s not funny, it’s pitiful.
As dark humor goes, this one is so black you can’t even make out the humor. It’s kinda hard to laugh when fingers are being chopped off, innocent women are shot in the head while wrapping Christmas gifts, pornographic images are in-your-face at any given moment and some man’s brains are blown out and his blood plops all over another human being. Please people! What are we laughing at these days?
R-rated is right. Vulgar language ran so rampant I had to stop counting and cover my ears! Not to mention, as this is set at Christmas, it gave the script writers plenty of opportunities to take the Lord’s name in vain and make snide remarks about Christmas in general. I just couldn’t take listening to “Silent Night” while viewing a guy drunk, sitting on a dirty toilet in some smelly bar as funny. I guess I was supposed to see the irony or pathos in the situations these characters were portrayed in, but all I felt was pity and repulsion that the script was even produced—and that many people will pay good money to see this perversion. This Christmas crime movie is incredibly unchallenging bunk.
There are no redeeming elements or characters in “The Ice Harvest.” Nude dancers, bare breasts and all other parts of the female anatomy are prevalent. Comments abound, hiding as humor, but really uttered just to make your mouth drop open as in “I can’t believe they said that.” or as cheap shock value, examples: Vic, referring to his Christian wife, mocking; “she’s making me come home to go to midnight Christmas prayers,” like it was a stupid thing to even consider doing on Christmas Eve. And, mocking again the fact that it’s God’s birthday. A very drunk Pete makes rude comments to a hostess in a cocktail lounge, first pointing out that she is wearing a cross around her neck, then making comments to her boyfriend that he would like to dream about her as “…one naked little Christian,” and as a “…hot little Jesus freak.” Vic states that “…only morons are nice at Christmas.” Another character states that he considered “…becoming a pastor and starting a church and let Jesus pay the mortgage…” These lines, and many more coupled with the sorry fact many people in the audience were actually chuckling at these blasphemous comments, made me heartsick.
Haggai 1:3-5 laments, among other things—“Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of Hosts: “Consider your ways!” The Israelites of his time were much like we are now, spending everything they had to attain a sense of satisfaction that was eluding them. Like the characters depicted in this film, no matter what they did—eating too much, drinking too much, spending too much—they could never be happy.
“You have sown much, and bring in little; You eat, but do not have enough; You drink, but you are not filled with drink; You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; And he who earns wages, Earns wages to put into a bag of holes.” Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways!” (Haggai 1:6-7)
If we don’t put God first, we’ll never find true satisfaction. Especially by stealing, deception and murder. How selfish and pathetic. These characters were not humorous in the least. They were like dogs chasing their tails, never getting anywhere, and I might add, just where the devil wants us all to be. Not making God the priority in life, we all simply spend and spend our money, our lives, our very spirits, only to find in the end our pockets and our souls, as Charlie’s and the characters in “The Ice Harvest,” are sorely empty.
Still, there is hope for those who are real-life Charlie, Vic and Pete’s. Finding Jesus and true repentance for even the grossest of sins, can be done, Praise God! As 1 John 1:9 promises: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
This is not a perfect world, and we are not perfect people. Many have mocked Christmas, gotten drunk, blasphemed and a million other acts many are sure to feel guilty and most unworthy over. Perhaps not as vile as in this film, but things that have given us a profound sense of shame. But, instead of dwelling on our imperfection, look at what Scripture tells us in the midst of our shame and confusion:
“He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the Earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:10-14)
In watching “The Ice Harvest,” my heart was heavy as I remembered vile, gross and ugly is not our reality; it is Satan’s. Knowing you need not go see this film and encouraging you that if you know someone who needs Jesus, to witness to them with your whole heart this season, is my Christmas gift to you.
Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Extreme
Year of Release—2005 / USA release: November 23, 2005 (wide).