Friday, October 21, 2011

Cool as Ice - 1991

"Cool as Ice"-  1991
Dir. by David Kellogg - 1 hr. 31 min.

Official Trailer

by Clayton Hollifield

When you've got an ultra-hot pop star, it makes sense to throw him or her into a low-budget, quickie movie, so as to extract more cash from their fans before their star fades.  I don't fault any of the people involved for making that decision; it's a basic career move for anyone in that position.  If you luck out and unexpectedly make something not terrible, you've got new avenues open.  If it goes the other way, it probably didn't cost much to make in the first place, and hopefully people will just forget about whatever cinematic abortion you've just created.  To give you an indication of which way "Cool as Ice" headed, understand that the film was never released on DVD.  There is a nearly endless list of truly awful movies that did get released on DVD, but "Cool as Ice" never made the cut.

What you need to know about Vanilla Ice, according to this film:  he's a martial-arts expert (there are two fight scenes, including one where he finishes off a guy with a palm-thrust to the chest!), his every-day wear includes a leather jacket that has "sex me up" written on it in large letters, he's largely incapable of delivering more than one line of dialogue at a time, he rides neon-painted motorcycles with the least intimidating hip-hop biker gang ever, he holds an unnatural sway over little boys (I think that the love interest's little brother loves Ice more than she does), and seduces women via public pelvic thrusts and dance floor dry-humping.  Got it?  Yep yep.

I'm not going to bother with much of a plot description, but here goes.  Ice rolls into a small town, but one of his buddies' motorcyles breaks down.  Ice sees girl, chases girl.  There's also a b-story about the girl's parents being chased down by some thugs, which is mainly an excuse for the parents to scowl at Ice, but ultimately get proven to be a good guy.  So there you go!  There are also three musical segments within the film (the first six minutes are basically a Vanilla Ice music video, and the last few minutes are basically the same, with a different song), only one of them plays into the plot at all.  In the middle of the film, Ice and crew eject the house band, and deliver the bar patrons into their own special version of hell.  Ice starts performing (it's unclear what he does other than ride motorcycles, in the context of the film), spots his love interest, Kathy (Kristin Minter), and then decides to do a song for her.  Before he even gets to the first lyric, the first thing he does is go "uh!" and deliver a pelvic thrust all up in her business.  Did I mention this was also in front of Kathy's boyfriend?  And the entire bar?  There are more pelvic thrusts to be had, as well as Ice laying her down in the middle of the dance floor and air-humping the shit out of her, before returning to the task at hand, rocking the mike.

It's hard to get mad about things like that, though.  If you're hitting "play" on "Cool as Ice," odds are you're not expecting a quality film.  There is, without question, wall-to-wall unintentional absurdity on display, and literally everything present is standard issue.  And even the music is second-rate; there's an undeniable catchiness to "Ice Ice Baby" or "Play That Funky Music," even if it's largely due to the source material being sampled.  And none of that catchiness is evident in any of the songs here.  That should be the one given if you're making a movie about a musician, and even that falters.

So, if this movie is really as awful as I say it is, why not give it a goose-egg on my rating?  A couple of reasons.  First, there is a lot of unintentional comedy here, from Ice's monosyllabic lines to Ice absolutely wearing out his "Blue Steel" face.  And a laugh still counts as a laugh.  But probably more importantly, though Vanilla Ice's credibility was shaky even at his peak, this has to count as an early hip-hop movie.  Ice's taste is questionable, but he's committed to what he's doing, and this is an attempt to bring hip-hop culture to a wider audience.  Believe me, I wish that Public Enemy or Run-DMC or even Digital Underground had been given $6 million to make a movie during this time period.  But they weren't.  Kid 'n Play did "House Party" the year before, so if you want to see what the early days of rap's chart success looked like, these two films are your then-contemporary options.  So even as a spectacular failure, it succeeds on the basis of documenting a particular time and place.  That might sound like faint praise, but at the time, everyone wasn't toting a video camera around in their pocket in those days.  It may have been a gaudy, neon-encrusted, ridiculous point in fashion history, but at least it's on film.  Sure, a painfully bad film, but it's there.

1.5 / 5 - Streaming

3 comments:

  1. Run DMC DID make a movie- Tougher Than Leather (1988). It was released by New Line Cinema before they became a major studio and did get a VHS release, which is how I saw it.

    Tougher than Leather is even funnier than Cool as Ice. The best way to describe it is if Ed Wood had made a rap musical. Astonishingly inept not only in the acting department, but it fails as filmmaking. They re-use the same sets but don't make much of an effort to properly camouflage them.

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  2. The complete movie is on YouTube. It's a must see for unintentionally hilarious rap musicals.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BxZyFgsuZpM

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  3. Thanks for the tip, I'm definitely going to have to check out "Tougher than Leather," then! As much as I love Run-DMC's music, I can't imagine any circumstance where they would have made a traditionally "good" movie.

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