Monday, February 27, 2012

Day 90: Cool as Ice

"Drop that zero, get with a hero"

Vanilla Ice's window of actual fame was so small, it's hard to remember when he wasn't a complete and total joke. He went from having a massive hit single to being the butt of jokes from everywhere, most notably on In Living Color, which I remember was, for me anyway, the point when I finally felt like it was okay to laugh at him. A lot of my 6th grade compatriots were upset with that sketch, but to me it was a relief that someone else felt the way about this douchebag that I did. The guy was a total poser, top to bottom, and he made it virtually impossible for anyone to take a white guy rapping seriously ever again.

I was admittedly a huge Ninja Turtles fan when the second Ninja Turtles movie came out in March of 1991, and when Vanilla Ice turned up at the end of that movie (as if the rest of the movie wasn't a total waste of time), it pretty much single-handedly ended my love affair with the Ninja Turtles. By the time October of that same year rolled around, I think that virtually everyone was fed up with Vanilla Ice, but that didn't stop Universal Pictures from unleashing his "star-making" vehicle on the world, Cool as Ice. The film was directed by a man named David Kellogg, who had 10 directing credits prior to this film, and 2 after it. The ten prior and one after are Playboy videos such as "Wet & Wild" and "Farmer's Daughters." His only feature film credit after this was 1999's Inspector Gadget with Ferris Bueller. I'll leave it to you to decide which misstep actually ended his career.

The fact that Kellogg cut his teeth directing music videos for Lionel Richie probably goes a long way towards explaining why Cool as Ice looks like a 90-minute music video, with random Lifetime movie style scenes thrown in to move the plot along. Oh yeah, the plot, I almost forgot. Mr. Ice plays Johnny (although not a soul utters that name in the entire film), a Kawasaki biker who rides with a crew of two black dudes and a black girl, you know, to establish his street cred. En route to a local bike repair house that's straight out of a Tim Burton movie, Johnny's crew rides past a horse farm where Kathy (Kristin Minter, Heather from Home Alone) is riding her horse. Johnny jumps the fence and does a pop-a-wheelie to impress Kathy, but instead sends her flying off the horse. She's okay though, don't worry.

When Johnny and friends make it to the repair house, it's conveniently located on the same street that Kathy lives on. Kathy's dad (Michael Gross) is harboring a secret. He's in the witness protection program from a case he broke open a long time ago when he was a cop, that I think involved the mafia, I wasn't really paying attention. Anyway, some of the folks that he sent to jail are after him, and track him down because of his appearance on a local news program that was spotlighting Kathy.

So anyway, look, the plot is pretty irrelevant, even to the filmmakers. It's basically a series of random coincidences strung together in order to facilitate getting Kathy and Johnny together in various, slow-motion romantic montages. Now, Kathy's boyfriend is a total asshole, but there's no real reason for her to  have any attraction to Johnny whatsoever. She seems like a smart girl, they go out of their way to establish that, so why on earth would she be so unrelentingly stupid in her relationship decisions? Like I said, the plot doesn't matter on whit, making the low-lit, smoky scenes in the house where they grind things to a halt to squeeze out exposition all the more ridiculous as a result.

There are a lot of lingering questions though, such as why the house is always smoky. Why did halfway respectable character actors like Michael Gross, Jack McGee & Sydney Lassick agree to appear in this film? Man's got to eat, I guess, but still. Why does Johnny wear a leather jacket, with shorts and no shirt? Why does his jacket say Down by Law when he engages in, by my count, zero illegal activities in the film? Why on earth did Oscar-winning cinematographer Janusz Kaminski shoot this movie?

The movie is a total joke. It's the kind of thing that has all the elements of what a studio executive would think that kids want to see, but contains exactly, by my count, zero things that are actually appealing to young people. Watching this film with friends, even via social media, is the only way to stomach this abortion. I know how much you think it's gonna be funny and campy and stupid and you'll enjoy watching it, but it's not something to watch alone. Watching it alone will open up a gaping hole in your soul that's not likely to be filled by anything but medication. So grab some friends, start a live blog, and cue up Cool as Ice, you'll have a blast, I guarantee it. But remember, friends don't let friends watch Cool as Ice by themselves.

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