Film review: Cool As Ice

Published: Monday, Oct. 21 1991 12:00 a.m. MDT

Welcome to the land of Vanilla Ice. In "Cool as Ice," it's a place where everything has a reference to some other film.

Homes in a small town are lined up like a pseudo-'50s tract, a bizarre cross between John Waters and Steven Spielberg. One house looks like a "Pee-wee's Big Adventure" reject.

The color scheme of the film — day and night scenes — is garish "Miami Vice," with deep blues and off-yellows. No one has dialogue; everyone speaks in soundbites. And no scene lasts longer than 10 seconds before it's choppily edited into an MTV music video.

This is, of course, a cinematic vehicle for Vanilla Ice, the rap star who demonstrates just how untalented he really is. Not that it will deter fans.

He's a biker named Johnny who rides into this small town on his big yellow chopper, along with a few friends. When one of the bikes breaks down they stop at the very bizarre Pee-wee-esque home of the even more bizarre Dody Goodman and Sydney Lassick.

Lassick offers to fix the bike, but he instead turns it inside out, forcing the group to bed down for a few days. Meanwhile, Johnny is taken with a girl across the street, a brilliant college student (Kristin Minter) whose father (Michael Gross) has a mysterious secret.

There's a boyfriend Johnny is forced to beat up (which he does as if he's Steven Seagal), a ridiculous kidnapping subplot and lots of misjudgments and misunderstandings, most based on prejudice against the way Johnny looks — his two earrings (but just in one ear), his tattoo, the shaved designs on his head and the mismatched, brightly colored clothes.

Johnny's enough to make Marlon Brando's "Wild One" seem positively conservative.

Screenwriter David Stenn (who wrote for "Hill Street Blues" in better days) and music video director David Kellogg make their film debut here, and their style is loud and dumb. There are speeded up slapstick comedy scenes, cartoon sound effects, attempts at off-the-wall humor and mild (PG-style) vulgarities, such as a young boy making an obscene gesture. They even offer slow motion as if it's the first time anyone's ever tried it.

If there were any more music video montage scenes this could be an MTV special instead of a movie.

And what a shame to see Candy Clark (as Minter's mother), who started her career so brightly with wonderful turns in "American Graffiti" and "The Man Who Fell to Earth," reduced to playing a mincing housewife with nothing to do but whine in the dark.

Vanilla Ice shows no acting ability whatsoever . . . but then, if I hadn't seen Michael Gross (the father on "Family Ties") in other projects, I'd think he had none either.

At least supermodel Naomi Campbell had sense enough to merely sing under the opening credits rather than try something out of her league.

"Cool as Ice" may appeal to fans of Vanilla Ice, but they'd better be tolerant; there are some very long stretches between rap numbers. No story or character development — just long stretches.

It's rated PG for violence, profanity, vulgarity and sexual innuendo.

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