The Ice Harvest Movie Poster Image

The Ice Harvest



Dark comedy about a mob lawyer who steals $2 mil.
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2005
  • Running Time: 88 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Cheating, lying, stealing, killing, vomiting.


Stabbing, shooting, fighting -- all as " comedy."


Sexual slang (references to acts and genitalia); strippers pole dancing; seductions as means to other ends.


Many, many f-words; crude language used in anger, frustration, and drunkenness.


References to Subway, liquor brands, car brands (Lincoln, Mercedes).

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Several characters drink, most often to the point of drunkenness (including while driving); cigarette smoking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie isn't for kids. A holiday comedy of the Bad Santa type, it shows repeated arguments among friends and family members: one man argues with his wife; a young boy yells at his father; another man shoots his wife (off screen); two best friends eventually bond over their mutual hatred of the woman they have both married, one after the other. Characters lie, cheat, fight, and vomit. They drink to drunkenness (one from a flask while driving), smoke cigarettes, and hang out in strip clubs. Acts of violence involve handguns, shotguns, knives, and cars.

User reviews

Parents say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

Kids say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's the story?

Mob lawyer Charlie Arglist (John Cusack) tries to commit the "perfect crime" in THE ICE HARVEST. Charlie has just stolen $2 million from his gangster client (Randy Quaid). Worse, he's working with seamy strip club owner Vic (Billy Bob Thornton). Charlie's ex-wife's new boozing husband, Pete (Oliver Platt), self-medicates to deal his miserable home life. Charlie and Pete bond on Christmas Eve over their shared experience of violence and fear, and Pete's childish rebellion against his in-laws and abusive, icy wife. As Charlie careens between brash and tentative, he follows the usual noiry hero's route, descending though he knows better. The partnership with Vic is bound to unravel, and then he meets sultry Renata (Connie Nielsen), who tries to seduce him to get what she wants but is clearly not interested in him. Charlie appears to know this, but he uses Renata too. She keeps his mind off what he sees as his most immediate anxiety, for a minute anyway.

Is it any good?


For all Charlie's running around -- in driving rain and icy road conditions, to boot -- the film never picks up speed. If Charlie appears energetic, if not exactly inspired, it's only because he's in constant, circular motion. Surrounded by antic dunderheads and furious bunglers, he responds as if mystified, though he understands and can manipulate such behavior. Charlie's positioned twice -- as conventional, self-aware hero and dim anti-hero, both sustained by the oddly convincing, refreshingly subtle, and relentlessly appealing John Cusack.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Charlie's limited vision. Though he feels angry, frustrated, and in his way, ambitious, he's unable to imagine his way out of Wichita except by the very means he despises: betrayal and violence. How does Charlie look relatively rational, compared to his mostly crazed associates? How is he positioned between other male characters (who are miserable and not-so-smart) and women (selfish, conniving, and mean-spirited)?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:November 23, 2005
DVD/Streaming release date:February 28, 2006
Cast:Billy Bob Thornton, Connie Nielsen, John Cusack
Director:Harold Ramis
Studio:Focus Features
Run time:88 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:violence, language and sexuality/nudity.

This review of The Ice Harvest was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Too naughty for kids; nice for some grown-ups.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.