Monday, 10 May 2010

Cool As Ice (1991)

Director: David Kellogg

Cool As Ice a.k.a. the Vanilla Ice movie is the bullshit movie classic of the 1990s. An old friend Magnus used to work at Civic Video in Mount Hawthorn (don’t look for it anymore, it’s not there) and obtained an ex-rental copy of Cool As Ice with the illogical front cover tagline: “When a girl has a heart of stone, there's only one way to melt it. Just add Ice.” Magnus, Seymour the Genius and I added Ice to our lives by watching it repeatedly, continuously using lines from the film as common greetings like “So what’s up with TOMORROW?” (it’s all in Ice’s delivery) or “I’m gonna across the street to schling a schlong” (Yeah, I don’t know what that means either). A misconceived vehicle for the man who made rap safe for white folks with the smash-hit ‘Ice Ice Baby’ (hey, it’s still a good song), Cool As Ice apparently only lasted three weeks in U.S. cinemas. Obviously patterned after the Purple Rain marketing trifecta of selling a film, a soundtrack and a pop star simultaneously, Cool As Ice displays a similar amount of self-aggrandising ego displayed by the featured star. However, at least Prince wrote awesome pop tunes and there was a sense that he was in complete control of the way he was represented in Purple Rain. Whereas Vanilla Ice, reportedly paid one million dollars for Cool As Ice, is just along for the corporately-sponsored ride. I have visions of screenwriter, David Stenn, trying to ascertain what Vanilla Ice would like to be in the film – a lover, a fighter, a hero? – and continually hearing the reply from Ice himself, “Whatever it is, just make it COOL, yo!” What makes Cool As Ice so fundamentally bullshit is that it sells us its pop star hero as all types of COOL, but to any logical-thinking person who is not a thirteen year old white girl seeing this film in a suburban strip mall cinema in 1991, Ice comes off instead as a giant douchebag of epic proportions.

Cool As Ice begins with the title tune rapped by Vanilla Ice in some downtown club where everyone is gyrating in slow-mo and Naomi Campbell is singing backup. Ice already comes off as totally ridiculous with his plush orange jacket and silver brimmed black cap, dancing around like he’s swatting off invisible bees from his body, and throwing in lame rhymes about “how all the gays, they’re amazed” (re: his MC style). Then some blonde fly-girl with bike pants, a bra, and a leather jacket gives Ice her phone number (her name? “Monique”) and his posse are all like, “DAMN!” Like a 1990s incarnation of Marlon Brando in The Wild One, Ice hits the road with posse intact, all riding hyper-colour motorbikes, touring the countryside for no apparent reason. Wait up though because there’s some chick driving a horse in a fenced-off paddock alongside the road. Ice and the girl exchange slow-motion stares. Tension is in the air scored by constant record-scratching. Now what’s the best way to thaw the ice-cold demeanour of a princess on a horse? Well, rev up the engine and launch across the fence like a lime-green spaceship and land right in front of the horse, kicking the girl off onto the ground. Step aside Horse-and-cart era, the Industrial Age is here courtesy of a little Ice. Checking to see if the girl is okay, y’know not suffering any spine fractures from being thrown off a horse because some idiot jumps their motorcycle right in front of it, Ice receives a punch in the chest from this girl to which he says, “What’s your problem?” Then more priceless dialogue:

ICE: “You hit pretty good... for a GIRL.”
CATHY: “Well, coming from a big macho jerk like you, I’ll take that as a complement!”
[She rides away leaving Ice to nod his head, smiling]
ICE: “Yep yep, she likes me!”

Vanilla Ice continually demonstrates the supreme cockiness of an absolute cockhead. Then if you thought that wasn’t COOL enough, there’s some more comedy shit when Vanilla’s home-boy, Sir-Dee’s green-and-black-tiger-striped motorbike breaks down in the middle of a main road in a small town. Everyone gets off their bikes to check out what’s the problem, yo, without ever thinking to maybe move off to the side. Then again we wouldn’t get close-ups of frustrated townie squares being all Jonathan Winters with their “grrrrrr” double-takes. WHITE PEOPLE ARE FUDDY DUDDIES, YO! That ain’t nothing when Vanilla and his crew take the bike to the WEIRDEST HOUSE ON THE BLOCK, a blue-painted, abstract-art-decorated home for the criminally insane with Sydney Lassick (Cheswick from One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest) and Dody Goodman (Blanche the secretary from Grease) being wacky-doodles with Humpty Dumpty music in the background. They offer to fix Sir-Dee’s bike like the silly wacky white people they are but end up deconstructing it entirely (Uh Oh!) giving Vanilla Ice an excuse to stay a night or two in this Blue Velvet styled burg. Whilst the rest of his crew are given pointless “doo-doo-doo” montages where they eat gross sandwiches of pickles and peanut butter or play with giant salt shakers, Vanilla Ice bare-chested with his orange jacket and rainbow-vomit baggy pants starts dancing like an animal in heat, particularly when he sees that girl on the horse in an open-top Porsche driven by some clean-cut yuppie, which provides another serve of Ice-cold poetry: “AWWWWWWW YEAH!” While Cathy (the girl on the horse) and her yuppie boyfriend asshole Nick are arguing about some petty couple crap, Ice steps in like the definition of a Neighbourhood Watch creep to engage in some more flirty banter, particularly when he finds out her name:

ICE: “Caaaathy? [thinks about it] Cat.”
CATHY: “Come on, we’re wasting his time.”
ICE: “Oh, you’re not wasting my time, I’m just COOLING. Check this, if you need me, I’ll be right over there.”
NICK: “She won’t!”
ICE: “Yeah we’ll see about that [leaves, stops at the gate and turns around] Cat, words of wisdom: drop that zero and get with the hero!”

Wow, that Vanilla Ice is such a fucking jerk... He's so dreamy! This classic scene capped with another example of Ice COOLING when he calls Cat’s boyfriend “Dick.” “Hey,” he says, “it’s Nick!” YA BURNT, DICK... OOPS, SORRY, NICK! I think the worst thing about all of this poor Kristin Minter who plays Cat and seems nice enough in a cut-rate Jennifer Connolly type of way, has to ACT like this is all cool, continually chuckling over both Vanilla’s wit and wisdom.

Well, Cool As Ice can’t be all about Vanilla Ice cooling. An additional subplot is thrown in when we discover that Cat’s parents are played by Candy Clark (American Graffiti) and Michael Gross (Family Ties) are in the witness protection program and are being stalked by the most bumbling pair of crooked cops ever (Jack McGee and S.A. Griffin) who continually have lame dialogue scenes that feel largely improvised, particularly when one stops to ask the other, “Say, you ever think that this would happen?” You could be forgiven for thinking you’re watching another movie at certain points with this bargain basement cop thriller malarkey, but thankfully we have a scene where Vanilla Ice goes looking for Cat at the local hang-out, the Sugar Shack, wearing a giant black sunglasses, a new black leather jacket that does not waste any space with the amount of words and slogans written upon it (like DOWN BY LAW, SEX ME UP, AH YEAH, YEP YEP, etc), looking like a cross between Max Headroom and the lamest Cyberpunk you could imagine. Anyway, some boring old rock band playing cheesy music is boring everyone to sleep and so Ice nudges his posse with the classic line, “I’ve got an idea!” Faster than a Mentos commercial, Ice has pulled the plug on the OLD music, taken a mic and with his command, “Drop it!” we see some bumpkin drop their drink, glass smashing on the floor as the NEW SOUND takes over with Ice’s hilarious performance of ‘The People’s Choice.’

What else do we have here?

  • When Vanilla Ice finds Nick, drunk on alcohol with his cronies, beating up Sir-Dee’s motorcycle (or as Ice explains later, “Whackhead tried to play baseball with my homeboy’s bike!”), and then Ice takes down Nick and all his buddies with kicks and punches that are all soundtracked with synthesised ‘BAMFS!’ and record scratches.
  • The CREEPY scene where Vanilla Ice returns Cat’s black book (which he stole by the way) by breaking into her bedroom and waking her up in an uber-phallic fashion by dripping an ice-cube into her mouth while she sleeps, whispering, “Let’s not wake up mummy and daddy.” Skin-crawling!
  • Vanilla Ice and Cat spending a magical day together, jumping around a housing construction site to some bland dance mix whilst Ice drops some more wisdom like “If you ain’t true to yourself, you ain’t true to yourself. Live your life for someone else, you ain’t living. Straight up FACT!” Then he lets her ride his bike, she lets him ride her house, and then they ride each other in the desert while some bland Ice slow-jam love-song plays out.
  • Later, Michael Gross suspects Vanilla Ice of being in league with the crooked cops and so he forbids her daughter to date him. When Ice gets dissed by Cat, Cat starts breaking down, getting deep and emotional over this love of a lifetime that she’s only known for ONE DAY!
  • The bumbling crooked cops kidnap Cat’s little brother Tommy by running around his house in some esoteric slow-mo Home Alone shit that features the line, “I’m gonna get you, kid!”
  • Cat coming to Vanilla Ice to help with Tommy’s kidnapping by listening to the tape the kidnappers left and only Ice with his supersonic hearing is able to decode where they are by the sound of an industrial pump. The gang hit their bikes to rescue Tommy with Ice warning his posse: “Just because we can’t hear it, doesn’t mean they’re not here.” (Are they in Predator now?). Then Vanilla Ice busts through the wall like Batman on his motorbike, defeating the bumbling cops with more synthesiser-scored punches, even knocking one out with a Tweeting Bird sound.
  • Michael Gross having to tell Vanilla Ice that he was wrong about him and thanks for rescuing his son blah blah, all the while Vanilla Ice wears a big East 17-styled sock-hat that looks like an extra appendage grew out the top of his head.
  • Vanilla Ice taking Cat on his bike and then Vanilla Ice driving off, stopping to say, “I forgot something!” to which he drives back to ramp off Nick the Dick’s spotless Porsche.
  • Final hip-hop performance with Cat dancing seductively in the crowd audience as Vanilla Ice (now in an orange-blue suit!) raps about how she’s the one whilst engaging in some dodgy looking 69 sexual position choreographed routines with his male dancers.
If you want to feel totally STREET and get an education about how a rapping white-boy from the HOOD copes in the wacky world of small town suburbia, y’know where he was from originally and where his target demographic lives, then check out the NEWS with Cool As Ice. Especially when it’s last educational message on the closing credits is to “b kool stay n skool."