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Film / Cool as Ice

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"In the house, and the house is packed."

"When a girl has a heart of stone, there's only one way to melt it. Just add ice."

A very strange 1991 film starring Vanilla Ice. The director is David Kellogg, whose directorial, er, "style" would be repeated in Inspector Gadget (1999).

The film is a good old-fashioned teen rebel flick, fashioned to fit into the strange window of time that was the early 1990s hip-hop scene. Ice plays Johnny Van Owen, the leader of a hip hop/dance crew/biker gang/who knows, who are passing through a small, predominately white, conservative town. One of their bikes goes on the fritz, but as luck would have it, they run across a kooky old couple who offer to fix it, and even let them stay for a few days. What does Johnny do with all this free time? Scope out the pretty honors student down the street (Kristen Minter) and put the moves on her of course, her steady boyfriend be damned.

Originally she's repulsed by his approach (probably because their Meet Cute involves Johnny accidentally knocking her off a horse), but before long, she finds his Improbable Hairstyle and 1991 catchphrases irresistible, much to her boyfriend's consternation. Along the way, he finds time to help some nerdy white people get their groove on at a local club, and have a Falling-in-Love Montage at a construction site. But things start going sideways, as it turns out her family is in hiding from bad guys (don't expect this to be adequately explained). Her father (Michael Gross) assumes Johnny is one of them just because... well, just because he is Vanilla Ice, basically. This culminates in a Hostage Situation with Kathy's little brother.

But Ice- sorry, Johnny, eventually saves the day and all is well in the end.

The film sunk at the box office, grossing one-sixth of its budget, and Ice's performance was critically panned. That said, the fault can't entirely be pinned on the movie itself, as Ice's reputation had fallen hard before the film was even released due to various controversies. That hasn't stopped the film itself from becoming one of the stranger 90s artifacts.

Naomi Campbell makes a cameo in the opening credits.

Now has a character sheet, under construction.

This film provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: Apart from Johnny being no more than Vanilla Ice As Himself, the name "Johnny Van Owen" evokes Ice's real name, Robert Van Winkle.
  • Almost Kiss: Johnny and Kathy are about to kiss/straight up have sex when the little brother walks through the unlocked door and interrupts.
  • Alternate DVD Commentary: RiffTrax took a shot at it in 2013.
  • Behind the Black: When Kathy is walking home from the Sugar Shack (in the middle of the street, for some reason), the bad guys spot her and try to run her over (or something, it's not very clear what their intentions were). Ice somehow manages to ride up next to her on a loud sporting motorcycle without anyone hearing or noticing him before he appears on camera.
  • Better Partner Assertion: Following a conversation with Kathy and her stick-in-the-mud boyfriend Nick, Johnny tells her (right in front of Nick, no less) that she should, "Drop that zero, and get with the hero." It elicits a genuinely amused laugh from her.
  • Black Best Friend: Johnny has not one but three. They serve as his crew in his rap group/motorcycle gang/whatever they are.
  • But Not Too White: Kathy's family make Mr. Van Winkle look as Hip-Hop as he thinks he is.
  • Character Shilling: Kathy's little brother literally gasps with wonderment at Johnny's coolness.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The noisy machinery at the construction site. We get a brief shot of it when Johnny and Kathy ride over there; later, when listening to the ransom tape the kidnappers sent, Johnny recognizes the sound of the machinery in the background, letting him locate where they are.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Land: Roscoe and Mae's house is a very, very surreal piece of architecture.
  • Coincidental Broadcast: Both the protagonist and antagonist learn about Kathy's identity when they see her interviewed by a TV reporter. Adding to the improbability, the villain watches the interview in a location which is implied to be far away from Kathy's hometown, and presumably in a different media market.
  • Cool Bike: Johnny's bike is supposed to be this. In real life, it was actually one of Ice's at the time.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Kathy's house just so happens to be a few houses down from the mechanics' place where Johnny and his posse are staying.
  • Cradle of Loneliness: Johnny sneaks into her house and throws a ring that Kathy gave him into her goldfish bowl. Upon coming home later, Kathy fishes it out and invokes the hell out of this trope (set to "I Want U 2 Know" by Denise Lopez which for some reason didn't make the soundtrack).
  • Dance Party Ending: The film ends exactly as it began, with Johnny rapping at a club. Kathy is in the audience.
  • Design Student's Orgasm: The house belonging to the Cool Old People. It's just the cherry on top of the WTF sundae that is this movie.
  • Dramatic Drop: Johnny's hip hop routine is so shocking that a bystander drops his drink, which shatters on the floor.
  • Dreadful Musician: The 'performers' at the Sugar Shack, who somehow make Vanilla Ice sound good(ish).
  • Dull Surprise: All over the place, but mostly from Kathy's father.
  • Excuse Plot: Despite the fact it's also a rip-off of The Wild One, the plot is really just an excuse to get Vanilla Ice to start rapping or posing.
  • Falling-in-Love Montage: Johnny and Kathy frolic at a construction site, on a beach, on a horse, in a meadow, on a salt flat...And all on the same day.
  • Fat and Skinny: Played straight with the two thugs. Though ironically, only the skinny tall thug is shown constantly eating and obsessed with food.
  • Flippant Forgiveness: Kathy's fiancee watches her dance with Vanilla Ice at a party, and afterward takes her aside and forgives her for it. This is meant to be seen by the audience as evidence that he's a pompous asshole and she'd be better off dumping him for Ice. It manages to get across the first part. The second...not so much.
  • Heh Heh, You Said "X"
    Kathy: Okay, I know I had it when I left work, because when I left work I put my check in it. And then I went straight to Nick's house and I didn't touch it at Nick's house...
    Tommy: Haha!
    Kathy: Shut up.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Way to show up on television while you're in the Witness Relocation Program, Mr. Winslow. Particularly in a news report apparently being broadcast nationwide.
    • He also never contacts the police or does anything to protect his family even after he knows the criminals who he put away are after him but before they've actually done anything to him. After Tommy is kidnapped, Kathy's father is about to call the police but is convinced not to for... no real reason.
    • As noted, he has no real particular reason to think Ice is connected with the criminals other than he saw them have a conversation. It's a small town, and everyone in town would have known who they were and why they were there by the time he gets around to accusing him of being their associate near the end. All he really had to do was walk across the street and ask his neighbors "Who are those people staying with you?"
    • The criminals' plan doesn't make a whole lot of sense. If Mr. Winslow wasn't also an idiot, what WOULD stopping him from calling the cops right then? He knew their names, their descriptions, their car, etc. Not to mention there was nothing to indicate he had the kind of money they were asking for. Seems like a really risky plan.
  • Jerkass: Nick basically spends much of his screen time being a stick-in-the-mud, a bully, or both.
  • Jump Scare: Performed with the end credits, of all things. The words "The End" pop up so randomly and so loudly it's liable to catch you off guard.
  • Misogyny Song: The closing number, "Get Wit It", has aspects of this. Amusingly, Johnny performs this song while his girlfriend is in the audience.
    Johnny:I love a girl, then ditch the same one, cause you know there's more where that came from!
    (Cut to his girlfriend, looking on admiringly.)
  • Monochrome Casting: Just barely averted. Ice's... crew are the only non-whites in the movie.
  • Mook Chivalry: When Nick and his friends fight Johnny at the Sugar Shack, they make sure to attack him one at a time.
  • Music Video Credits Sequence: Both opening and closing credits; this is a vehicle for Vanilla Ice, after all.
  • The '90s: The fashion and sounds are very, very early 90s, in the brief window of time where hip-hop actually looked like this (remember, other big rappers around this time were MC Hammer and Kid 'N Play). The gangsta movement would make this aesthetic a distant memory (not that this movie needed the help).
  • Non-Actor Vehicle: For Vanilla Ice, of course. It didn't exactly pan out. Since this movie, he's mostly appeared in cameos and non-major roles.
  • Playful Pursuit: While Ice and Kathy are developing their relationship, there are shots of them playfully chasing each-other around a construction site, interspersed with scenes of them talking.
  • Plot Hole: Where to start...
    • People randomly end up with each other's possessions. It's...possible that Ice might have picked Kathy's wallet out of her purse, but how the hell did she get his driver's license?!
    • Where does an elementary school kid get a motorcycle helmet?
    • How'd Ice get that ice cube into her room without it melting all over his hands?
    • How did Ice jump that fence on his motorcycle when there was no ramp in sight? Even he seems surprised by that.
    • Where were Ice and his crew keeping all those extra clothes they wear in the movie?
    • As noted in Idiot Ball, why would a man under Witness Protection agree to appear on the news?
  • Police Are Useless: Though unusually for this trope, it's not the police's fault. They can't do their job because they're never called, Kathy steals the ransom tape, and in the end the old people are distracting them with a false kidnapping report.
  • Poor Communication Kills: The main driving force of the plot. No one ever bothers to explain anything to anyone. At one point in the film, Kathy's father flat out refuses to allow her to explain why Vanilla Ice's character gave her a ride home. If she had, the movie probably would have ended about an hour earlier.
  • Sad-Times Montage: After Kathy tells him she can't see him anymore, Johnny has one of these... set to "Crazy" by Daisy Dee. You don't often see someone invoking this trope to early 90s hip-house.
  • Scenery Porn: It's one of the best looking bad movies in existence. The film's cinematographer, Janusz Kaminski, would later win two Oscars.
  • Slo-Mo Big Air: Johnny does this with his Cool Bike, over a fence, when he first sees Kathy. Which is pretty amazing, considering there was no ramp in sight.
  • Stalking is Love: This movie appears to exist in the same universe as The Twilight Saga, where breaking into your Love Interest's house while she's asleep is charming and not a reason to file for a restraining order.
  • Straw Loser: Pretty much everyone in the town is one of these, to try and make Vanilla Ice look cool. Particular mention goes to the...characters performing at the Sugar Shack.
  • Stupid Crooks: The aforementioned bad guys decide to kidnap Kathy. To do this, they stalk her in their car — in the middle of an empty street at night, with their headlights on, following her from only 5 meters away, while driving at 4 mph. Did we mention that Kat is walking down the street? Real stealthy, bad guys.
  • Take That!: The film mocks alternative grunge at the Sugar Shack, which is just sad in hindsight.
  • That Reminds Me of a Song: "The People's Choice".
  • The Precious, Precious Car: Nick's white Corvette.
    Nick:Well, I hope you like being a biker chick, cause you're not gonna see me or my car again.
    Johnny:Imagine that! (Jumps motorcycle over Nick's car.)
  • Totally Radical: Doesn't even begin to describe it.
  • Trespassing to Talk: Ice sneaks into Kathy's room one morning and wakes her up with (what else?) ice. Of course, since this movie is out of touch with reality, she finds this charming as opposed to horrifying.
  • Wacky Cravings: Jazz makes a sandwich with chunky peanut butter, pickles, sardines, mustard, and pineapple.
  • Wacky Sound Effect: Inserted seemingly at random, for instance when the villains are loading their guns, and when Kathy's father is turning the pages of the newspaper.
  • We Care: "b kool stay n skool" in the credits. Ouch.
  • What, Exactly, Is His Job?: This is one of the more curious things about Johnny and his crew. It's never directly addressed whether or not they perform Hip-Hop (circa 1991) for a living, or whether they just like hijacking clubs in different towns for fun. All we know is that they're drifters with tough-guy attitudes and Cool Bikes.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: Oddly enough the film lifts the plot and names of various characters from the 1950s Counter-Culture Classic The Wild One.
  • Witness Protection: Kathy's family is under this, though her parents never bothered to tell her. Notably, the film neglects to include the protection part of the program, as apparently the same felons that are chasing Kathy's family are unimpeded in their ability to pursue them. The family would actually be under the protection of federal marshals, so the father's insistence there's nothing he can do but "be careful" is rather bizarre.
  • Worst News Judgement Ever: What exactly is newsworthy about a smart girl doing well in school? Obviously, it was contrived as a Plot Device to get the dad on the television so the bad guys would see him, but the same could be accomplished more plausibly by having him unknowingly filmed in a crowd at some event that's actually newsworthy.

"Oh yeah, Kat! Words of wisdom: drop that zero and get with the hero."