Hard-driving and oblivious ad exec Ted Kramer (Hoffman, more jittery than usual) is blindsided when his alarmingly fragile wife Joanna suddenly abandons him and their six-year old son Billy (Justin Henry), claiming that she needs to go to California to, you know, "find herself." Clearly a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown, she hands over the keys, the credit cards, and the dry-cleaning tickets and disappears, leaving Ted to answer Billy's question: "Where's Mommy?"
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With a heart as black as exhaust-stained slush, The Ice Harvest is based on a novel by that jolliest of writers, Scott Phillips (A Simple Plan). Taking place over one long, frozen and grimy Christmas Eve in Wichita, it all starts with Charlie Arglist (John Cusack), a lawyer for the local crime syndicate, handing off a bag to his cohort, Vic Cavanaugh (Billy Bob Thornton), the bag containing over $2 million they stole from the Kansas City boss, Bill Guerrard (Randy Quaid). Vic hides the money and he and Arglist split up for the night, aiming to get the hell out of town in the morning. Being a noir patsy, Arglist proceeds to drink, draw far too much attention to himself, flirt with the local fatale (Connie Nielsen, dead wrong for the job at hand), and get more and more suspicious about Vic's motives. Paranoia ensues when one of Guerrard's gunsels starts poking around the seedy joints that Arglist has been hanging out in.
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When four people carrying identical luggage all check into a San Francisco hotel at the same time, you know right away that the movie will be driven by a big suitcase screwup. Uptight scientist Howard Bannister (O'Neal) is carrying a bunch of ancient rocks that he thinks emit interesting musical tones. Judy Maxwell (Streisand), a petty thief and mooch who is hanging around the hotel mainly to steal room service sandwiches, is carrying underwear. Another guest carries a load of diamonds, and the fourth has a stack of secret government papers. When everyone grabs the wrong bag, the comedy commences.
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