Guilty pleasure and Good Bad films are so underrated. In this post, for your consideration, I'll take a look at the 1991 film Cool As Ice.
I love a Good Bad Film. The only things I love more than a Good Bad Film are my family, friends, and boyfriend, Saturday Night Live, Stargate, The New York Yankees and Giants, Michael Shanks, Joe Flanigan, Jason Bateman, Derek Jeter, Eli Manning, Hip Hop class, and Hello Kitty. Yes, Hello Kitty is on that list.
And you must admit, she's cute.
Ok, so anyway, I'm not here today to rip apart a Good Bad Film, I'm here to praise a Good Bad Film. And the film that I have carefully selected from my collection is the 1991 film Cool As Ice.
Can you turn your pants down? I can't hear the movie over them!
Cool As Ice is a 1991 romantic...comedy...musical...drama...I'm at a loss, what genre is this supposed to be? Anyway, Cool as Ice is a 1991 film starring Robert "Vanilla Ice" Van Winkle (credited here as Vanilla Ice) as a "rapper"/motorcycle enthusiast/Lord of the Ladies who attempts to win over the affections of a total Ice Princess with his charming ways. Its the beautiful story of a Young Man, his garishly-painted motorcycle, the woman he covets, and the societal standards that are willing to keep them apart at all costs. It also stars Kristin Minter as the love interest, Kathy, Michael Gross as one half of the societal standard working to keep them apart...her father, and a motley crew of people who only look cool because they spend time with Vanilla Ice. The film is an "inspired" remake of Rebel Without a Cause, though Rebel Without a Clue is a better way to describe it. What ever the case, it's definitely "inspired." It was directed by David Kellogg and "written" by David Stenn. Because when a film like this exists, you just wonder who actually wrote it, and become convinced that material like this only writes itself. Universal Pictures released the film on October 18, 1991.
Cool As Ice was Vanilla Ice's film debut, and was an attempt to make a vehicle to showcase his talent. The film was shot in April 1991, and unforunately was released about six months after Vanilla Ice melted (yup, cheesy joke inserted here). As it was, by the time this movie was being shot, he was already 14 minutes and 58 seconds into his 15 minutes of fame.
I should note that this film has been looked at in several places - Doug Walker did a Nostalgia Critic episode about it in 2009 (he thought it was "bad as shit"), Cecil of Good Bad Flicks covered it in one of his earliest episodes (he loves this movie). I looked for Agony Booth's treatment, but alas, cannot find it. So, it's been covered by a Few Good/Proud/Brave Men. Now, it's time for a lady to take the reigns of this garishly-painted motorcycle.
I've said enough, and I'm not even up to the point where I actually watch the film. So, why don't we go plunging headfirst into the deepness that is this film. Try not to think too hard, you could pull a muscle in your cranium. So, without further ado, let's see what 14 minutes and 58 seconds of 15 minutes of fame looks like, this is Cool As Ice!
As the film begins, it hits you in the face...not once...
GOOD LORD movie! You're gonna put an eye out with that thing! Both eyes! And what's with the three attempts to hit me in the face with this movie?
That's a whole lot of assault on the eyes in the first fifteen minutes! There's the "WHOOO!", followed by the most pompous showing of an actor's name EVER, and then...GAH! The title is even louder!
As morning approaches, the group spots a woman on a horse and decides that its the perfect opportunity to rip off Top Gun, and win over a new "fan." So, Johnny tries his luck...and spooks the ever-loving shit out of the poor horse, knocking the girl to the ground. She's fine, but Vanilla Ice will need to get his abdomen checked. He informs her that "she hits pretty good...for a girl." And like that, the Ice Princess rides off on her noble steed.
Upon arriving in town, one of the posse, Jazz's, motorcycle begins to act up, and the group tries to figure out why. The locals are less than enthused that they are holding up other cars. But, when they see that ruffians have arrived in town, they are terrified. And the welcome reception as they drive through a posh neighborhood is even more hilarious - Boy Scouts, Old Man on the Sidewalk, Man Mowing Lawn - all shocked at such a sight in their town.
The Quadrant of Fear - fear of the unknown coming into their small town that's far away from State of Mind.
So, they arrive at the repair place, which looks like some crazy Mindbending Clusterf**k. The next town over from where I grew up has a mansion (Sims Manor) that reminds me of this - it's almost like the owner blacked out after a three-day bender and redecorated, or is *gasp*, an "artist." Only there is a Voltron/Optimus Prime hybrid guarding the gate at the Sims Manor.
Oh yes, it exists. Read about it here.
After a crazy misunderstanding by the shop owners, Roscoe and Mae, about negotiations for a sale, the posse leave the bike to be fixed. While spending time in the house, which even Pee Wee Herman would be embarrassed to live in, we watch the posse eat some hilariously disgusting cuisine, use giant salt and pepper shakers, and watch Johnny practice his "shirtless, jacket-wearing dance moves."
As the rest of the group naps, Roscoe and Mae bicker, and Johnny spots his Ice Princess and her boyfriend.
What follows is a scene I can't possibly describe but am going to try. It involves rap music, chipmunk voices, sped-up film, and some unusual camera work. It is basically an introduction to Kathy's family...on crack. I can't find a video on it, but if you so choose to watch the movie, it is about 16:15 into the movie. It's too much to describe, and is best left seen by the human eye. Plus I think I'm high everytime I see it.
And this was the only part I could do a screencap of before the film went apeshit and tried to fast-forward itself in a futile attempt to end the movie faster.
The high eventually wears off, and we watch a news story about Kathy, her horse, and her advice for other teenagers. Johnny watches it too. He knows he must rock her world. Meanwhile, someone else is watching the report, but not because he is oogling Kathy, he has his sights set on her father...the dad from Family Ties himself, Michael Gross! The man who was watching the television makes a call to someone else about what he saw. The family receives two phone calls, one hang up, and one from someone named Charlie, to admire Kathy on television. Gordon, or "Daddy Winslow," is troubled by the first phone call, but lies about the second caller's declaration that his daughter should be like Kathy. Nick the Dick gets up to leave, but "promises" Kathy's brother for a ride in his car some other time. Little Brother goes back to his video game, and we are forced to be stared at by him. No seriously, this kid is looking straight at the screen, his eyes boring deep into our souls, forcing us to repent for our sins, even if we're good of heart and don't have any sins...throw Holy Water on it, dammit! At this point, Kathy realizes that her Little Black Book is missing, and figures out where it is.
I didn't want to force you to be stared at by this child, so I timed my screencap wisely.
Roscoe and Mae run into a quandary with the bike...namely, it's in pieces. Perfectly laid out pieces. Johnny asks if the bike can be put together with quickness, but "quickness" means "TOMORROW?!" in their world. Elsewhere, in the desert, two suspicious folks are busy mapping out a way to get to Gordon Winslow and do him in. Johnny decides to go across the street in this otherwise normal neighborhood to "schling a schlong," which means...what?! He said "schlong," so he must be talking about...ok, so anyway, he goes across the street to Kathy's house, while this stupid music plays, which culminates with Johnny hitting the door once with his fist. Her brother answers the door along with their mother, and is blown away by what he sees. Hey kid, wanna see a washed-up career? He's standing before you, and his future is so lame...I need to stop this. Kathy's mother comes to the door and informs Johnny that she is not there, so her brother informs him that she is at the Sugar Shack. Johnny decides he must find this Sugar Shack, and leaves. He is then stopped by the two guys from the desert, who give Johnny directions to The Club With the Most Embarrassing Name Ever. Gordon looks out the window, and notices the two people sitting outside on their car are...friends of his?
Back at Da Sugar Shack, Johnny commandeers the microphone, and begins to...sing. "Drop it!" (Glass shatters to floor, such choice imagery for the appropo lyrics). Johnny sings "People's Choice," which isn't a terrible song either. However, it does surprise the whitebread club goers. I love how these people constantly react with shock, awe, and horror at the idea of these rapscallions in their town! The dancing is hilarious though, and Ice's pants are classic - he looks like he got in a fight with a can of spray paint.
"Oh yeah, I'm going to drop some funky lyrics." And the "black imposter" factor just shot through the roof with that one. He tries so hard, its actually a shame this was right before the world forgot about him. Johnny charms his Ice Princess, and dances "provocatively" with her, much to her delight. And there is some of that crackerjack editing from earlier. Nick the Dick is not impressed with this, but Kathy is clearly smitten with Johnny, proving he is "The People's Choice." Yeah, lame joke, one of many. Deal with it. But you know, under the dumb haircut and douchey clothes, he's actually kind of hot. Kind of, only because I can't get past how dumb he looks. Kathy tells him she wants her Book back the next day. But she's clearly smitten. Nick the Dick calls her a slut and hollers at her, but then says "he's willing to forgive her" for her slutty ways. Kathy decides to push him away, and walk home. Even she calls Nick a Dick, and he pouts to get her back.
In the morning, Johnny climbs into Kathy's window, and gives her a wakeup call...dripping ice into her mouth. Yuck, where did he get that from?! He lays on her bed, and returns her Little Black Book. She also finds out his name is John Van Owen (such a creative take on his real last name, Van Winkle, which is creative enough!). Kathy and Johnny oogle each other, and she decides to strip down in front of him. Johnny giggles like a goof, and Kathy's little annoying brother Tommy comes into the room, and is THRILLED that Johnny is back. Johnny promises Tommy that he will give him a ride on his motorcycle...a legitimate promise. Johnny jumps out the window, and even the sprinklers don't want him there, so Johnny escapes. Kathy then comes out of her house, and joins Johnny for a fun-filled day of adventures in time-wasting.
Damn you, Winslow family, and your hot water sprinklers! I'm MELTING!
As Johnny takes Kathy on said adventure, we get gawking looks of shock from friends of Kathy's in a passing car. What is it with these people?! It's not like Johnny is doing something offensive. Ok, fine, he offends good fashion, but that's not the point. The point is, he isn't doing anything wrong other than being some transient who arrives in town and melts his potential Ice Princess' heart in only one day. The scene's editing is much like the rest of the film - a bunch of random scenes and takes. It still blows my mind that the person responsible for directing the photography on this film was allowed to even look at the negatives for Schindler's List.
The twosome arrive at a construction site, where they alternate between talking and filming an early 1990s clothing commercial. Talking and frollicking, frollicking and talking - this film can't figure out what it wants to show. I tell ya, Ice is really kind of hot, it's too bad he looks like such a goof in those Hamburglar shorts. I particularly love the Zen of Ice - "It's not about where you live, it's about where you're at." "Live your life for someone else, you ain't livin'. True fact."
My screencapping skills are timely.
So finally, she plants one on him, and they kiss as the camera spins around them in a dizzying fashion. Ok, this is definitely a commercial...for what, I'm not sure, but that's what it feels like. They even get their hands on a hose, and now I think it reminds me of those Jovan Musk "What is sexy?" commercials from around this time. I love how Johnny even shows her his dance moves, ironic only because his jacket says "Dancer" on it, which is either his favorite reindeer, or an outrageous claim on his part to tell people he is one.
Johnny goes off in search of the plot, by speeding away into a montage on his motorcycle. Kathy's dimbulb friends try to tell her to go back to Nick the Dick, and we're treated to a bunch of random shots...again. What is it with this movie and random editing? Johnny then encounters Kathy's little brother Tommy, who is now sporting a similar haircut to Johnny's, and wants to go for a ride on his motorcycle. So, Johnny follows through on the empty promise Nick the Dick didn't deliver on, and takes him for a ride. Then, more random shots, some Mae and Roscoe dance moves, and motorcycle repairs.
Prescisely what the director did when he disowned the fact that he ever did this film.
Tommy even gives the finger to Nick the Dick while riding the motorcycle. How old is this kid?! He drops Tommy off, who enters the house, alone, to an unlocked door. This must be Mayberry, if Mayberry was in California. Johnny sneaks into Kathy's wide open window and drops the ring into a fishbowl, before riding off into the sunset.
Tommy is playing Tecmo Bowl, when he hears a noise. The two crooked cops find Tommy in the house, and decide to make an example out of the honest cop by kidnapping the child. Such a dark turn for a movie that otherwise doesn't have much of a plot. Kathy comes home, and sees that his game is left unattended, and grows suspicious of where he is. But, she gets over it long enough to stare into her fishbowl, and finds the ring in the fishbowl. Kathy has a Lifetime movie moment of sadness, while Johnny and his posse prepare to move on to the next gig.
Kathy sulks around the house, as her parents come home. When the parents realize Tommy isn't there, and wasn't at Little League, they start searching frantically. Johnny shows up at the house and brings Kathy a tape, which is a badly read ransom note by Tommy. Nick the Dick shows up and an inopportune time, and says that Tommy was terrified on the back of the motorcycle, which Kathy just doesn't buy. So she takes the tape over to the place where Johnny is staying. The group is having a lame-ass jam session. Kathy insists that Johnny listen to the tape, and he identifies it as being taped at that construction site...where no construction seems to be accomplished.
Johnny and his posse head to the construction site, and it turns out Tommy really is being held hostage there...by crooked cops with no acting abilities. For two people hiding a child, they don't do a good job of making themselves invisible. Here's a hint - shining a flashlight all over a room does not make for being inconspicuous. The one cop even tells the other "When this whole thing is done, I want to get myself a joint." Which is a coincidence, because I feel like I smoked one before I sat down to watch this. I'm also convinced that the whole crew lit up before this film was made...and the high lasted throughout the whole film. Recreational drugs may make some of the images in this film look good in the dailies, but they don't translate well once the high wears off.
Anyway, Da Fearless Posse crashes through the wall, fights the crooked cops, and tie their asses up before hauling them back to town. During another wacky Roscoe/Mae scene in which they lie to a stupid police officer's face, Da Fearless Posse, lead by Johnny, Storm Da Block in Whitebreadville. When overprotective Mommy Grace panics about Tommy's insane attempt to look like Johnny (is he really a good role model? For goodness sake, he looks like he has a black condom on his head in this scene!), Tommy calmly informs her that he did the monstrosity on his head himself, and Daddy Winslow thanks Johnny for his good deed. He even tells Kathy that she can see him. Not in those exact words, but its implied. He says to Kathy "Then let's G-O." Nick the Dick shows up to break up the beautiful moment and threatens to leave Kathy so she never sees him or his car again, so Johnny, the sound thinker he is, decides to...jump over Nick's car. Kathy turns around to give a shocked Nick the Dick one last look, before the movie cuts into Johnny's next gig.
The final scene of the film is Vanilla Ice, dancing in this horrible Technicolor suit while singing. "Go Ninja, go ninja, go ninja, GO!" Oops, remembering a slightly better film...
Oh yeeaaaah...that's it!
Anyway, before my head explodes...this concert would be kind of cool, except for the...highly sexualized dance/hump he does with a backup dancer. Kathy, meanwhile, is in the crowd, dancing and totally looking like a random groupie, and not the innocent young lady when he swept her off her feet. And what's with the random grunting and air humping? He subjected us to that at the beginning of the film too! As the song ends, he dances with Kathy slung over his shoulder, "...and the house, and the house is packed, y'all."
The End credit is fired at us like a gun, and we go into the closing credits, as "Cool As Ice (Everybody Get Loose)" and some of the other songs reprise. I really like "Cool As Ice (Everybody Get Loose)", it is far superior to the rest of the songs in this film, and even depicted some of the better dancing in this film, which says alot of how lame the dancing is. "Third Rate Soul Train" is a good way to describe it. The versions of the songs played in the closing credits are truncated to fit in the allotted time.
And if you stay through the credits, because you're tough like me, you'll get to play witness to this...
...FACT: Ten high schoolers dropped out after seeing this.
You'll also get to hear Vanilla Ice randomly rapping about Johnny and girls as the credits wind down. And if you REALLY feel like you can make it to the very end of the credits, you'll be treated to a shot of Johnny on the motorcycle with Kathy in a scene from earlier in the movie. Because in a movie with enough random edits to cause anyone to strangle themself with the negatives this very movie was recorded on, what's one more random shot?
Availability: Cool As Ice was released as a VHS in the early 1990s, and Universal has since released the film as part of the "Universal Vault Series," which I'm assuming is code for "Movies we absolutely have disowned, but have gotten too many letters and emails requesting its release from our cold dead grip, so we relented and made it happen. Because we like money as much as the next guy, and didn't want to sell our rights to it so some lesser company can make a quick buck. Yeah, that's it." On Amazon, the DVD release is $17, which likely means I won't be buying it any time soon, unless it sees a drastic price cut and I can't resist. It's also available on Amazon Instant Video for $2.99, and makes sporadic appearances on the Encore stations in the United States - I say sporadic because I don't play vigilante to my television all day, and the last time I saw it on television was in early 2011 on Encore Family. It also was part of Netflix's streaming service, but disappeared sometime in early 2012. I taped it from the service, which I subscribe to, and treasure it in my DVD collection as an example of where filmmaking went horribly astray.
Director David Kellogg later disowned this film from his resume. Gwenyth Paltrow was in the running for the part of love interest Kathy Winslow, but her father forbade her from making this movie because of the sexual content. Director of Photography Janusz Kaminski would go on to work on a much better film, Steven Speilberg's 1993 drama based on actual events, Schindler's List, which, by comparison, could pat it's head, rub it's tummy, chew gum, and walk at the same time. This movie only wishes it could do so much as pat it's head.
But does that make this film terrible? Oh yes. Does it make it any less entertaining? Hell no! This movie is hysterical, and it's fun. It takes itself seriously, but is a great example of how not to make a film. The acting is over-the-top, the scenery and costuming is bright, the acting is terrible, and Vanilla Ice...well, his career was just about over by the time this film was even conceived. To say that this film killed his career is a mistake - it was already dead when the movie was released.
The verdict? I highly recommend this movie, and if you can get your hands on it, it is well worth your time. If you have 94 minutes to spare, this is essential viewing for lovers of Good Bad Movies, especially those who enjoy the films that Mystery Science Theater 3000 prided itself on showing.
*Sigh* If only...
So do yourself a favor - drop that zero, and get with the hero...of Good Bad early 1990s "musical"/"comedy"/"drama" films. You'll never understand how you let this one get away from your line of sight...but not before you feel a slight depression for what could have been a great love story.
Yeah, yeah, yeah...I'm kidding, of course. Try not to take this film seriously, and you will love it!
The film is actually posted on You Tube in its entirety. If you hav 94 minutes, you should give it a G-O.
Nostalgia Critic - Cool As Ice
Yeah, yeah, yeah, well that about does it for this look at Cool As Ice. It was a fun jaunt through a simpler time in filmmaking when hip hop music and questionable editing and photography went hand-in-hand in perfect harmony. I hope you enjoyed reading, and while I won't be doing any recaps in the near future (these articles take forever and a day to write), this one was well worth the time to write.
Have something to say about our beloved White Homeboy? Drop some words of wisdom in the comments section for me.
Thanks for reading!