Saturday, 31 January 2015

Cool as Ice (1991)

A deserved but minor entry in the crapola hall-of-fame, Cool as Ice continues a number of well-worn Hollywood traditions, such as taking a flavour-of-the-month celebrity and dumping them into a hastily constructed vehicle for their talents, and cashing in on a subculture by appropriating the surface elements and presenting a neutered version of it for mass consumption. Luckily, it also continues some bad film traditions, such as atrocious acting, baffling plot twists, and needless musical numbers, which give the film a passable amount of entertainment value.

The plot is essentially a loose reworking of The Wild One, with rapper Vanilla Ice in the Marlon Brando role. He plays Johnny Van Owen, a freewheeling, motorbiking rapper, who drifts into Anytown USA with his gang of fellow rappers/bikers. Johnny catches the eye of local honour student Kathy Winslow, and after a broken down bike leaves them temporarily stranded, he decides to get to know Kathy better. However, her dad is having none of it, fearing Johnny may be linked to a dark secret from his past. Kathy's boyfriend Nick is having none of it either, and decides to take a violent revenge on Johnny.

When a film opening moments have the main character trying to impress a girl by jumping a motorcycle over a hedge to land in front of the horse she is riding, you know you are in the presence of a special kind of idiot. Other highlights include: the husband wife team of Mae and Roscoe, the bumbling owners motorcycle repair store, with a workshop as full of shiny new bikes as their heads are empty of ideas on how to fix broken ones; Naomi Campbell sings! (Well, she at least opens and closes her mouth in sync with some singing); Kathy’s dad, who loves to go on the local TV news even though it might possibly compromise his cover in the witness protection programme; and the poster tagline, which really gives you something to think about: “When a girl has a heart of stone, there's only one way to melt it. Just add Ice”

Director David Kellogg has spent most of his career making music videos, TV commercials and Playboy documentaries, and his love for the first on that list is evident as the goofy thrills and spills soon taper off, along with the laughs, leaving what is essentially a series of song and dance numbers. These are shot in the slick, fast edit way all videos were in the 90s, and it is this slickness that ultimately stops the film from being too entertaining, as a truly eccentric or deranged visonary individual behind the camera could have made for a truly unhinged film.