Thursday 10 April 2014

IMDb Bottom 100 review – Number 90 Cool as Ice

Only once in a lifetime do the ingredients for absolute delectably awesome movie making happen to come together, to create a masterpiece that would leave a hypothetical God speechless. This movie is so 90s, that even the cast of 90210 would've frowned at it. That's why I'm happy to present...

Ice getting funky in the opening scene. He's a natural. 

Cool as Ice (1991)

First off, allow me to just say wow. Watching this movie was something entirely else. As I've established a few times already, I wasn't ever a big fan of the so bad it's good approach to shitty filmmaking. Most of the time, I just get annoyed, that anybody actually thought whatever they were making, was good. The level of blind naivety needed, to put a hunk of dog doo out, like Troll 2 or .Com for Murder, is just mindboggling. I suppose I could be considered more critical of myself than I perhaps should, meaning I won't allow my creativity, whatever it may be, to be viewed by the public as often as I should. This blog is, in itself, quite a test of my resolve to just go ahead and put stuff out there. But there we are. It's done now. Or rather, I'm going to do it presently. With all that kept firmly in mind, this movie, Cool as Ice, actually almost convinced me, that some movies just ARE so bad they are good. Almost. But then I remembered, that it IS Vanilla Ice and he IS a douchenugget, and everything IS totally ridiculous. So I calmed myself down and settled on the good old 'it's pretty shit, but still better than...' rhetoric.

Once again, we are faced with a movie created almost entirely to cash in on one person and/or character. In the case of 'In the Mix' the movie cashed in on the person Usher. In 'It's Pat' the movie tried to cash in on the character Pat. In 'Cool as Ice', like the title would lead you to believe, the person and the character are one and the same person: Vanilla motheradoring Ice. Yeah, that guy. Sure he technically goes by another name in this movie (Johnny), but it doesn't matter. It's Vanilla Ice, looking precisely so ridiculously stupid and over the top corny as you would expect. In fact, he probably exceeds even your most pus infested fantasies with the outfits that have been chosen for him here. I'd even go so far as to place a wager claiming, that his entire wardrobe in this movie is his own personal. And not made and/or bought just for the production. In fact, this whole movie feels like the full length version of Michael Jackson's Thriller video, except the plot is thinner, the music has far less charm and the main star shouldn't ever have made music and/or TV and/or been allowed to pick his own clothes.

No ramp or hill or anything. Just straight from flat asphalt to this. Your move, Isaac Newton. 

So does this movie actually even have a plot, you may at this point be googling an answer for. Well close down the search, because I can answer that question outright: Yes. Yes it does. I do realize that the word plot can only really be used extremely casually to cover whatever happens in this movie. For any normal person, lowering standards enough to actually utilize the word plot may be painful. But for a trained professional like me, who's had to do it 10 times already, it's just another day at the office. Since Vanilla Ice is the main star of this movie, obviously, we can't expect too much in terms of acting or production value, because why would we? I was sort of surprised, however, and indeed a little saddened, to see Michael Gross of Family Ties fame in this one. In fact, he's the main driving force of the actual plot that revolves around a former cop turned snitch against his old scumbag colleagues and is now in protective custody. I recently rewatched Family Ties, and, amazingly, it's still pretty funny. Often when you rewatch old 80s and 90s sitcoms, you just think 'how the fuck was I able to even chuckle at this shit?'. With Family Ties there were several genuine laughs, most of them from Michaej J. Fox who's just an awesome guy. But Michael Gross as Stephen Keaton had quite a few too. In Cool as Ice, he has precisely zero laughs. Both of the intentional and unintentional variety. There are no intentional laughs at all, as it happens. I don't even really know, if it's supposed to be a comedy or a drama. A dramedy, perhaps. It fits neither genre, really. It fits no genre, in fact.

So I'll dedicate a large portion of this review to the story walkthrough, because it's just so perfectly stupid, that you need to really visualize everything to truly understand what the hell is actually going on. We open with Vanilla Ice playing a gig. The credits and IMDb trivia informs me, that one of the dancers at this concert is Naomi Campbell. I'm gonna have to take their word for it, because I couldn't spot her off the top of my head. Vanilla, or Johnny as he is called here, is of course just himself – musician, dancer and all round cool as ice dude. After the gig, he, and his 3 black friends, sneak out the back, but he is still accosted by a female fan, who gives him her number. You may think 'oh Ice, you cray' at this point, and dismiss this as just another in a never ending sequence of awesome events that make out Ice's life. But you'd be dead wrong. This is going to come back to haunt him.

The other three are 90s, but enough is never enough for Ice, who has to top everything. Those pants aren't of this world. 

Vanilla and his little posse head to their bikes, fire them up and ride off. Since they just finished playing a concert, I can only assume that 1) it's late night or very early morning, and 2) that they are in the city somewhere. Yet the next scene is of the 4 of them riding, in the broadest possible daylight right smack dap in the middle of nowhere, with mountains and endless prairies as their backdrop. So possibly they decided to get on their bikes at night, and just ride non stop for 10 hours, seemingly without a set destination. Oh well, the fun is about to stop (for them. For us it's about to start), because one of the bikes breaks down right outside a small town. Bummer. While discussing the course of action, Vanilla spots a girl on a nearby field, riding her horse. Never one to let an opportunity to impress the ladies slide, Vanilla pulls off some truly mindboggling feats on his motorcycle, including, but not limited to, a no-ramp jump over the fence onto the field with the girl. This, besides defying several, if not all, of the laws of physics, has the added bonus of scaring the horse enough to throw the girl off. Normally, at least where I come from, when somebody does something to severely idiotic, you're not immediately prone to find them attractive and interesting. But of course resisting the natural charm of Vanilla Ice is no easy feat. The girl manages feigning indignation, and rides off, while secretly hoping she'll get to interact with one of the greatest entertainers of the 90s, possibly all time, again. Spoiler alert: she will.

Vanilla, meanwhile, has decided that they should find a mechanic in this very town. Partly because he's totally up for some lovemaking with that girl, and partly because one fourth of his crew isn't able to move at more than a walking pace now, so it's really kind of a no brainer. Thankfully there IS a mechanic in town that happens to specialize in motorcycles. Unthankfully, he, and his mechanic wife, are both morons who accidentally end up disassembling the bike completely (like literally every nut and bolt is taken apart). Cool as Ice in a nutshell. Thankfully again, however, they have no problem letting Vanilla Ice and his posse stay at their place. It's not really explained in detail what the arrangements are, but at least it gives Vanilla a base of operations. Also, and this is not explained either, in the next scene, Vanilla has a whole new outfit, despite carrying no bags on his person or on his bike. So that's kind of weird, unless the little township also happens to have a tailor specializing in douchebag outfits.

She doesn't seem to mind him wearing boots on her white linen either. He could take a shit right there, and she'd just smile. That's Ice for ya!

Vanilla sets about wooing this girl, who's totally going out with another dude. This dude is the typical preppy ivy league type of guy, and as we know, those types of guys always lose the girl, when somebody as badass as Vanilla rolls around. In this case, Vanilla doesn't mind blatantly hitting on this girl right in front of her boyfriend. That's trouble stewing if I ever saw trouble stewing! The girl, who I might as well just call Kathy from now on, rejects Vanilla again, but everybody, including her actual boyfriend (who's standing passively by as Vanilla sweet talks her) knows it's only a matter of time before she can resist no longer. We're treated to a small scene of her with her family, and it turns out she's the daughter of Michael Gross. She's also super popular in town, and the entire family is gathered to watch a little segment the local news channel has done on one of her accomplishments. This segment includes an interview with her father, which concerns him, and rightfully so – he is in a witness protection program after all. I wonder if he didn't see it coming, what with being interviewed for TV and all.

Words elude me. 

More shenanigangs at the mechanics. Vanilla Ice and his friends are bored, and head to the local club and/or bar where some lame band is playing. Alright, so they're kind of lame, but Ice just flat out pulls the plug on them (obviously just one plug is powering everything) and he and his crew start jamming. Nobody says or does anything about this. Some cornball waltzes into a bar, ruins the night for whoever was playing, and starts rapping in, what can only be deemed, the most ridiculous outfit ever devised. That jacket should be illegal in all 50 states. It has the following phrases/words/symbols embroidered on it: DANGER, DEEP, Down by law, FREEZE, HYPE, ICE, Lust, ah yeah!, ROLLIN, sex me up, yep yep, ? (question mark), DOPE and the letters "JK" surrounded by a star written on it for pete's sake. I mean, what the fuck? I don't even. But however your stance on that jacket, Vanilla ends up dancing with Kathy, again in front of her boyfriend, and it's pretty clear that she's smitten by the Icester! When Kathy rebuffs her boyfriend in the parking lot right after, however, he's just about had enough. Ice takes her home on his cool bike, where her father is waiting, with her mom, in a dark room. He indirectly forbids her to get rides from strangers. Apparently she doesn't know that he's in protective custody, which is kind of amazing since she's 18. How long has this been going on? I bet his real name isn't even dad!

Michael Gross. You should've done like Gwynneth, and gotten the fuck out. 

Ice returns to the club where the boyfriend and a few of his goonies are totally waiting to kick his ass. Sadly for them, they forgot to account for the awesomeness that is Vanilla Ice, and he totally ends up opening can upon can of the purest whoopass. He layeth the smack down, as our old hero The Rock would've put it. Righteously so too. No ass goes unwhooped by Ice. I've a feeling the jacket gives him magic powers. Kathy does to sleep, dreamily looking at Ice's business card I suppose it is. Why does she have this? And why didn't she know his name, when her dad asked her just moments earlier, when she had a piece of paper with his fucking name on it. Ah sense. It just doesn't apply here. That becomes bleedingly apparent in the next scene, where Kathy is awoken by having an ice cube shoved in her mouth by Ice. In her own bed. Take a moment to appreciate the level of insanity needed to think up a scene like this, let alone put it on film. A girl meets a guy, thinks he's kind of cute, and the next morning she wakes up and finds him in her actual bed – a bed he wasn't in when she fell asleep the night before. This doesn't phase Kathy at all. Amazingly enough, she finds it charming. How you'd ever be able to find a guy in that outfit charming, I don't know. But she pulls it off. And she finds the name of the girl from the opening scene written on the back of this card too, and that's totally find as well. So it didn't come back to haunt Ice that much anyway. Go figure.

Now things start moving fast. What follows is an all too long montage of Kathy and Ice horseback riding or motorcycle riding in various states of undress (sadly, Ice is the only one in any state of undress. Sad for multiple reasons). They are clearly falling heads over heels. Kathy's dad is none to pleased, and shit escalates when a good old fashioned case of mistaken identities complicate matters. The bad guys, spurred by the little news segment featuring Michael Gross, had arrived in town and by chance asked Ice for directions. Michael Gross observed this, and thought they were accomplishes. Things do get muddled up so easily! He doesn't like Ice messing around with his daughter (a sentiment I can heartily get behind) and when her old boyfriend ends up in the hospital because of all those cans of whoopass, Kathy isn't terribly keen on Ice either. Cue sad music and moping in dark rooms. He was so dreamy, and it turns out he's really an asshole. And dad is unfair too!

I'd like to believe this woman wasn't an extra in the movie, but just somebody random, who happened to see Ice passing by. 

In an amazing stroke of luck, Kathy's little brother, who's even more smitten with Ice than Kathy, goes and gets himself kidnapped by the thugs, leaving Ice with a golden opportunity to redeem himself once and for all. In a daring and cunning raid, that involves riding through house walls on motorcycles, and tying bad guys to hoods of cars, Ice saves the day and remains the hero he was born to be. Kathy forgives him, Michael Gross warms up to him. Hell even Kathy's ex would probably recommend him for a Harvard scholarship, if that was the sort of thing Ice wanted to persue. It's not, so we won't know if that could've happened.

Right, so I glossed over the ending there in a hurry, but I don't to ruin it for you, as I know you'll be rushing to your local VHS dealer, to pick this bad boy up. It's interesting to note, that Vanilla Ice's real name is Robert van Winkle, and in this movie he's Johnny van Owen. Did I say interesting? I meant that in the mildest possible sense. What IS interesting, however, is that Gwynneth Paltrow almost took the role of Kathy, until her dad said he'd disown her if she did. I'm guessing she's still thanking him for that one. If you do happen to watch this at some point in your life, you may or may not find a few other familiar faces on the cast list. Not familiar enough for me to start throwing out names, because it's not really that important. But familiar enough, so that you'll probably go “oh yeah... that guy” like I did.

Never one to let a dance moment pass him by, Ice is ever the natural performer. 

Overall, I'd say this movie rates pretty high on the WTF-o-meter. None of these B100 movies have much in terms of consistency or coherence in plot and action, but some of the stuff that happens in this one, such as Ice just being in Kathy's bed when she wakes up, are just outright insane. Him breaking and entering a domicile notwithstanding, is it just me or is that behavior creepy as fuck bordering on clinical sociopathic? Might just be me. What stood out the most, was of course Vanilla Ice himself. Fresh off the 1989 mega hit Ice Ice Baby, Mr. van Winkle did his best to make the transition into acting. Sadly for him, he just wasn't good enough. Doubly sadly for him, he wasn't really good at the music thing either, slipping back into obscurity for a decade or two, until that glorious day, where reality TV was enough of a thing for Vanilla to step back into the spotlight that had craved his presence for far too long.

It's not hard to get some kind of sick enjoyment out of this flick, because you'll, at the very least, chuckle at Ice's antics – the clothes, the hair, the stupid look on his face and the way he talks. Everything is awful, but at least it's awful in a consistently awful way. That doesn't make sense, but I suspect you'll know what I mean anyway. Because you and I understand one another, don't we? We don't? No, I guess we don't. I'll go now then. 

We'll end this debacle with a sweet shot of Ice that may or may not cause nausea. Viewer discretion advised.


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