Cool As Ice

I want a C. O. O. L. R. I. D. E. R.
★★★
☆☆☆☆☆
Released: 
1991
Director: 
David Kellogg
Starring: 
Vanilla Ice, Kristin Minter, Michael Gross, Candy Clark, Deezer D
The Setup: 
Ludicrous white rapper comes to small town and wins girl’s heart.
Discussion: 

It’s obvious that this site cannot be considered a viable source of informed film criticism without including the cinematic contribution made by Vanilla Ice. This glaring flaw will be rectified here, as we consider his genius in this, “his FIRST motion picture,” as the box says.

We begin with what is essentially a music video intercut with credits, and featuring a black female singer which turns out to be—surprise!—Naomi Campbell. She has a better voice than one would imagine, and the song is not that bad, as these things go—until Vanilla Ice shows up and ruins it. In this sequence we discover that Ice can breakdance, and are also treated to an extended strobe-light sequence that could very likely induce epileptic fits in its audience—if there WAS anyone in the audience.

Anyway, Ice leads this motorcycle-riding Hip-Hop posse that hangs, throws down beats, and sows lyrical terror. While riding one day, Ice spots this uptight babe riding her horse, and he is such an ignorant dork that he thinks it might be a good idea to ride his motorcycle right next to her horse, then jump it over the fence right in front of her [using his magical levitating motorcycle, as it is flat land all around], which obviously causes the horse to rear up and throw her to the ground. I thought it would have been a good plot if she was paralyzed from the neck down after this, and he was forced to woo her from the side of a hospital bed, but obviously my story idea was rejected by the producers as not dynamic enough. They ride elsewhere through the town, until one of the sidekick’s bikes breaks down, causing the whole posse to quite inconsiderately stop right in the middle of traffic to examine it and laugh. The surrounding traffic gets angry, until they see that Ice is with a bunch of black men, at which point they meekly get back in their cars and shut up. Viewers not prepared for such in-yo-face racial commentary are advised to keep watching Crash until they can face such harsh realities.

So Ice and crew find this mom-and-pop barn / cycle repair shop that quite inexplicably features the latest in garish early 90s design. This means that they will have to hang out in town for a while, as it soon becomes apparent that the couple, one of whom is played by Dody Goodman, have no idea how to fix such an advanced piece of machinery. So Ice goes over and sees the girl riding the horse earlier, with her clean-cut and rich but boring boyfriend. Ice advises her to “drop that zero and get with the hero.” Kathy just received some prestigious scholarship or something that gets her on TV, where the first thing she says is “people say everyone hates their parents, but I don’t.” This broadcast is picked up by these two mobsters, who recognize her dad, and call his house, then hang up. This one call is treated with all the ominousness of a severed horse head in one’s bed, and the dad [played by the dad from Family Ties] looks like he’s about to piss his pants. Wow, I guess the everyday wrong number must really keep this guy on edge.

Meanwhile, Ice and posse have been hanging out at the mom-and-pop motorcycle shop eating green eggs they salt with the gargantuan salt and pepper shakers conveniently placed on the table, until Ice says he has to go “across the street to sling a schlong.” Excuse me? He finds Kathy at this local dance, where he breaks into the entertainment and warns them, “Awww yeah, I’m gonna drop some funky lyrics,” then pulls Kathy down to the floor and HUMPS HER in front of everyone. There is a lot of scandalous sexual stuff throughout, but it all goes by in very fast cuts that one might not really notice without a pause button.

Anyway the dance thing makes Kathy’s boyfriend jealous and he and Ice have some words. Somewhere in here Ice has stolen Kathy’s address book [and she in turn stole his school ID or whatever], and is a total jerk to her, but then says “I’m going to forgive you for this.” At one point Kathy is almost run down by a car in the street, but when Ice asks her who those guys were she responds “some jerks.” He later, in the most bizarrely sexual thing in here, wakes her in the morning [after having broken into her bedroom] by DRIPPING FLUID FROM HIS FINGERS INTO HER MOUTH. She swallows it and awakens. Ladies, I don’t know, does this appeal to you? Having a guy break into your bedroom while you sleep and dripping some unspecified fluid into your mouth? We never do find out exactly what that “fluid” was, and uh, what exactly is on hand while in a bedroom? I don’t care to take this discussion any further [it was later determined, after several rewindings, to be ice].

Anyway, Kathy’s Dad has seen Ice talking to the mobsters and has forbidden her to see him. But she sneaks out takes a ride on his motorcycle, and they go hang out in this house that’s under construction, where they RELATE for a long time, before FROLICKING for a long time. Then they go back to her house, where Kathy’s father tells her that Ice is mixed up in some shady dealings, and she is forbidden to ever see him again. This causes him to go pose thoughtfully on his bike in the vast desert, which the editing makes seem as though is right across the street from the verdant fields.

SPOILERS! > > >
So Dad and Mom [played by Candy Clark, who does nothing here but is still fabulous post-Man Who Fell To Earth] decide to tell Kathy what’s happening, which takes place in a LONG and DRAMATIC father-daughter talk. Here’s the dish, and I am SO not making this up: The father used to be a cop and ratted on his corrupt partner and they went into the WITNESS RELOCATION PROGRAM, and have never told Kathy their true identities. But Dad saw Ice with the mobsters [when he stopped to ask them for directions] and assumed he’s with them. Kathy says she trusts Ice, and her dad says she doesn’t know him, and she retorts: “Well I’ve known you my entire life and you’ve been lying to me the whole time!” Ooooooooh, SNAP!

Things then go from ludicrous to UBER-ludicrous. Somewhere in here Kathy’s little brother went over to Ice’s and had a nice motorcycle ride, during which they saw Kathy’s uptight boyfriend. When the kid came home he was kidnapped [and quite terrorized, for a young kid]. So when Ice stops by that evening, he picks up the envelope on the porch and hands it to the dad, saying “this is for you.” Then the boyfriend stops over and says that the kid was last seen with Ice. Okay, so Ice HAND-DELIVERED the ransom note, and was seen with the kidnapped kid on his bike, and STILL Kathy is like: “I trust him!” Chicklet, what are you nuts? How much more evidence could there possibly be? Even Kate Winslet in Titanic didn’t take much persuading to believe that all Leo wanted was her necklace.

So she grabs the audio tape of the kid [oh, it wasn’t a ransom note, it was a tape, sorry] and runs out, heading over to where Ice is hanging out, preening. They play the tape [virtually the ENTIRE tape, which we also heard in its entirety not long before], and—can you guess what happens? Come on, what ALWAYS happens when there’s a ransom tape?—Ice recognizes a sound in the background! It’s this rhythmic clanging, like a construction site, but you, the viewer, are like “well, it sounds like some construction site, but that’s too obvious, there must be a few different construction sites, or they’d be onto that by now,” when suddenly Kathy says “it’s the construction site!” and you smack yourself in the head. And then you realize that it wasn’t hard enough, and you look for something heavier, and smack yourself in the head again.

So they go to “the construction site” where the kid is being verbally tormented by the more sadistic thug [who is way too sadistic for this lightweight movie, imho], and Ice and posse burst through the second floor walls [on his magical levitating motorcycle] and they have a fight, wherein Ice unleashes his martial arts on the bad guys and soon reduces them to helpless quivering masses. Oh, did I mention that Ice is also a martial artist? Yeah.

Then the dad thanks Vanilla Ice, who is wearing this hat that looks like a nuclear reactor balanced gingerly upon his head, and is happy for him and Kathy, and the rich dork boyfriend tells her she’ll “never see me or my car again.” And after a last music video sequence, it’s all over. Oh, and no “Ice Ice Baby” by the way.
< < < SPOILERS END

The main problem / source of amusement with this movie is just how ridiculous the very existence of Vanilla Ice is. First… this whole pretty-boy white rapper thing is completely idiotic, especially now that Hip-Hop has become what it is. Second is his appearance, with this huge shellacked hair-sculpture atop his head and loud, loud outfits. Third is how very seriously Ice comports himself, making all sorts of imperious faces and trying to come off as this wise old soul in the body of an idiot white-boy rapper. And finally, all of this myth-making and iconic photography of this guy... who is VANILLA ICE. This is compounded X100 by the distance between now and any time when this while thing might have seemed remotely serious. And again, the fact that the person we’re talking about here is VANILLA ICE.

That’s enough to sustain amusement for the first 45 minutes, but everything is just so ludicrous for so long that eventually there’s not much it can do to get a rise out of anyone anymore. Then, in the second half, the plot gets so ridiculously labyrinthine with all the coincidences and allegations and hidden identities that the whole thing becomes more a bizarre time capsule than anything. A bizarre time capsule about VANILLA ICE.

Should you watch it: 

If you can find it and are in the mood for something deeply silly. Or just want to make fun of Vanilla Ice.