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Film / The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit

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Clockwise from top left: Gomez, Villanazul, Dominguez, Martinez. Center: Vamanos

The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit is a 1998 comedy film adaptation of the short story and play by Ray Bradbury. It was directed by Stuart Gordon and stars Joe Mantegna, Esai Morales, Edward James Olmos, Clifton Collins, Jr. (credited as Clifton Gonzales Gonzales) and Gregory Sierra. It was produced by Walt Disney Pictures, initially released to video under the Touchstone Pictures label. Bradbury was also involved in the film adaptation, providing the screenplay.

Taking place in the Spanish suburbs down in East L.A, a man named Gomez (Mantegna) seeks out three down-on-their-luck strangers and convinces them to pool their money to buy a special luminescent vanilla ice-cream colored suit, a suit so powerful and illuminating that they believe it could change their lives and make all of their dreams come true.


Dominguez (Morales) wants to charm the ladies in town with his voice and music. Jose Martinez (Collins) wants to catch the attention of the lovely Girl Next Door who doesn't seem to notice him despite his efforts. Villanazul (Sierra) wants to capture a crowd and inspire them with his political and economic vision for the east side. But when the men don't still have enough money, they resort to the filthy bum Vamanos (Olmos) for the remainder of it.

With the suit in their hands, the five men spend the following evening taking turns wearing it, having one hour to themselves in hopes to turn their dreams into a reality. But what will become of them when they suspect Gomez, a Con Man, of running off to El Paso with the suit? Or worse, if the dirty and clumsy Vamanos ends up ruining it first?


The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit provides examples of:

  • Animal Motifs: Toro. He has a nose ring, his mustache is in the shape of a bull's horns, and has actual ones on his Cool Car. Then Vamanos engages him and his car in a bullfight using the suit to taunt him, much to the horror of the others.
  • Animated Credits Opening: The opening titles are completely done in sand animation.
  • Artifact of Attraction: Subverted with the titular Ice Cream Suit. It doesn't affect how any of the main characters act or behave aside from giving them a boost of confidence. Everyone else on the other hand is instantly mesmerized by it with the exception of Toro and Celia Obregon.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • After Martinez gets chased down by a suspicious man, even after throwing his wallet to him, the man gives him back his wallet and pulls out a tape measurer. To strangle him? No, Gomez gets his measurements and deems him a match for the soon-to-be-seen suit.
    • After Vamanos gets his turn wearing the suit and heads out the door, the first thing heard is a large rip. It's a piece of paper.
  • Badass Boast: Toro delivers a couple.
    Toro: I'm going to kill you, wake you up, and kill you again!
  • Bald of Awesome: Villanazul.
  • Bald of Evil: Toro.
  • Barbarian Longhair: Vamanos when he's first introduced.
  • Bilingual Dialogue: Given the movie's setting and the ethnicity of the cast, while the majority of the film is spoken and sung in English, it will dip into Spanish often. The opening theme song also switches between perfect English and Spanish.
  • Bittersweet Ending: They manage to preserve the suit, but the last scene makes it apparent that it's all they have left.
  • Blind Without 'Em: When Martinez gets Celia's attention, he discovers this is the reason she never noticed him. She has to put on her glasses to see him. He lampshades it just before he learns the fact.
  • Cigar Chomper: Vamanos.
  • Con Man: Gomez. Villanazul reveals him to be one before they get the suit, and suspects him of planning to split to El Paso with it and leave the rest of them penniless. Gomez denies it but Villanazul is completely right.
  • Conscience Makes You Go Back: When Gomez has his turn with the suit, he goes through with his plan to skip town with the suit. But the guilt of betraying his newfound friends get the better of him, and while he makes it to the station, he later arrives back at this apartment.
  • The Ditz: The clumsy Vamanos. When he gets his turn with the suit, he's nearly run over the moment he steps outside of Gomez's apartment.
  • Down L.A. Drain: Villanazul metaphorically uses this as part of his "World of Cardboard" Speech to inspire the people of the barrio to "cross the river" from the Wrong Side of the Tracks.
    Villanazul: Got to swim across that river. When I get across, what then? Hey, now. Wait. There's no water in that river. There's no river in that bed. There's just the empty desert lies there, all cement and concreted. And no rain to fill the river, but the river's in my head. So I'm going to walk on water, though there is no water there. But I got to cross that river, somehow. So I'll get my share.
  • Eternally Pearly-White Teeth: Martinez, who Gomez establishes as someone who values hygiene. When he tries to capture his neighbor's attention with the suit, it's not the brightness of the suit that Celia notices, but his teeth. She quickly falls for his smile.
  • Fat Girl: Ruby Escadrío. The guys fear she'll crush the suit, and Gomez goes so far as to call her the "Guadalajara Cow".
  • Fire-Forged Friends: The movie ends with the five strangers sharing a roof and the suit that bonded them together.
  • Girl Next Door: Martinez tries to capture the attention of one, but she never seems to notice him.
  • Good Is Old-Fashioned: Martinez. When he asks Celia on a date, he wishes to introduce himself to her parents first.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Toro. He sees Vamanos dancing with his girl and tries to kill him.
  • Hates Baths: Vamanos. The others force him to take his first bath in years before he even touches the suit.
    Vamanos: I'm allergic to water!
  • The Hedonist: Vamanos. Unlike the others, he gets a laundry list of rules to follow so he won't ruin the suit (and has to sign for it too). Don't smoke, don't drink, don't eat juicy tacos, don't go to the Red Rooster Cafe, and don't go near Ruby Escadrío, else he suffer the wrath of her boyfriend Toro. When he gets the suit, it's the first place he goes to and breaks nearly all the rules within five minutes. He's quickly consumed by the pleasure, but regains his senses after a standoff between him and Toro's car.
  • Latin Lover: Dominguez tries hard to be one, sporting a muscular build and the 'stache. He tries to attract the ladies in town with his voice and music, but it's not until he dons the suit where he lights the town on fire.
  • Large Ham: Villanazul, an intellectual poet who has a way with words and never misses an opportunity to dramatize a moment, which tends to confuse the others.
  • Light Is Good: The suit. And Martinez's teeth.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Ruby's boyfriend, The Brute Toro.
    • Vamanos, who's fast on his feet, and almost even outruns Toro's car.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: The Pig-Pen Vamanos gets this treatment compared to the others, who try their hardest not to acknowledge his existence or count him as part of the group. He also happens to fit the measurements and has the last $20 needed to get the suit, but no one wants him near it, let alone wear it. For good reason.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Gomez has this reaction periodically about getting the filthy Vamanos involved.
    • After Vamanos is injured, bringing his tenure with the suit to an end, he apologizes profusely to the others and swears to change his behavior, not wanting to be kicked out of the group.
  • Overcrank: Played for Laughs when Toro gets his hands on Vamanos for hitting on his girl. The others intervene and try to save the suit (and just the suit, not Vamanos). The dialogue audio isn't slowed down any; the actors speak more slowly to match the action on screen, adding to the hilarity.
  • The Pig-Pen: Vamanos. He's unshaven, stinky, and hasn't taken a bath in so long that he looks like he's been in a cole mine for years. He's unrecognizable when the others force him to bathe.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: After Vamanos is injured and police sirens are heard, Toro has an Oh, Crap! expression before driving off.
  • Soapbox Square: Villanazul is introduced in one, trying in vain to capture people's attention so he can deliver a "World of Cardboard" Speech to inspire them. He returns to the site when he gets his hour with the suit, where he's all ears and speaks of his vision for the people.
  • Spontaneous Choreography: The suit invokes this reaction among the women in town when Dominguez dons the suit and starts singing. It leads to all of them dancing in the street.
  • The Stinger: After the credits, a shot of Villanazul is shown in the suit leading a group of people across the bridge to the city, although the same shot was used earlier in the movie during his speech.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: During the Overcrank segment, when Gomez (hesitantly) urges Toro to punch him instead of Vamanos for the sake of the suit. Again.
  • Those Two Guys: The two salesmen who end up selling the suit to the group.
  • "World of Cardboard" Speech: Villanazul delivers one to a group of people midway through the movie, urging them to overcome the hardships and barriers in their lives, telling them they must "cross the river" to find a better life for themselves and earn their share.
  • Wrong Side of the Tracks: Downplayed. The movie's setting takes place in the barrio, and while each of the main characters have financial problems, the setting is mainly referenced as the inspiration behind Villanazul's vision for the people, as mentioned in "World of Cardboard" Speech above.


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