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  Cool as Ice The Last Ice Age
Year: 1991
Director: David Kellogg
Stars: Vanilla Ice, Kristen Minter, Michael Gross, Candy Clark, Sydney Lassick, Deezer D, Kevin Hicks, Allison Dean, Dody Goodman, Victor DiMattia, Jack McGee, S.A. Griffin, John Newton, Portia Dawson, Amy Tenowich, Kathryn Morris, Naomi Campbell
Genre: Thriller, Romance, MusicBuy from Amazon
Rating:  2 (from 2 votes)
Review: Johnny (Vanilla Ice) is a travelling rapper, and after another successful night of entertaining a nightclub audience he hits the road with his crew of three other musicians and dancers on their motorbikes. After riding all night, they find a town to settle for the moment, but one of their bikes breaks down on the high street. After towing it for some distance, the crew notice a crazy looking house in a suburban area and the owner, Roscoe (Sydney Lassick) rushes out to talk to them. He claims he can fix the bike, and allows them to stay with him and his wife while he does, but Johnny discovers someone to distract him when he spots neighbourhood beauty Kathy (Kristen Minter) and knocks her off her horse.

Well, any woman would be charmed by that kind of treatment, and so a romance develops between Johnny and his latest object of desire. If this is sounding rather odd, imagine what it's like to watch in this, the infamous flop vehicle for one of the biggest names in music of 1990. Just a pity this came out in 1991, when Vanilla Ice's star was on the wane, and this daft movie piled on the ignominy to prove that as an actor, he should have stuck with his rhymes. There are numerous precedents to having a music personality appear in their own cinematic vehicle, but only rarely do they lead to genuine thespian repsect.

And Cool as Ice was one of those which certainly did not offer its star a fresh admiration for what starts off looking as if Vanilla Ice was in his very own big screen hip hop version of a kid's TV show, perhaps The Mickey Mouse Club, with its lead character inexplicably living in a brightly coloured funhouse, and Kathy's family being introduced in speeded up motion as if director David Kellogg wished to pay tribute to The Benny Hill Show. Certainly this was kept to a PG rating so Ice's younger fans could go and see it - and the question of whether he would have endured if he'd put swearing in his debut album will never be adequately answered - but here they seem to be playing to the peanut gallery.

Kathy even has a young brother, Tommy (Victor DiMattia), to idolise Johnny and go for a ride on his motorbike, placing Ice in embarrassingly family-friendly terms. Predictably there is conflict between our hero and the girl's family, so dad (Michael Gross) and mom (Candy Clark) do not approve of Kathy being out all day without telling them where she is - she has actually been playing peek-a-boo with Johnny at a half-built house in the desert. But there's a reason for her parents' worries, which is that since she has appeared on a television interview along with dad, his old cop buddies can now track him down. And why do that? Because he owes them a lot of money, that's why.

So a thriller plot raises its head, as if the lovey-dovey business was not enough to sustain the rest of the film, and to be fair on this evidence it probably was not. In addition, Johnny has a hopeless posh boy love rival in Nick (John Newton) who - get this - he calls "Dick"! The wit and wisdom of Robert Van Winkle right there, or his screenwriter at any rate. Johnny beats up Nick when the cad tries to smash up his friend's bike, leading to Kathy unsure of whose alliances she should settle on: I think that's called being between a rock and a hard place, isn't it? Anyway, sure enough Johnny is the (home)boy for her, and who could resist that unusual, harlequin-esque dress sense and self-satisfied attitude? Well, quite a lot of people as it turned out, but there is a happy ending to all of this when Ice saves the day in sequences somewhat starved of cash as most of the budget went on paying the star. A punchline to a joke nowadays, maybe Cool as Ice will make it as a nostalgia piece - but he doesn't even do "Ice Ice Baby" in it. Although you do get to hear a beaming Naomi Campbell singing for no apparent reason.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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