I will not take up any space in this article explaining who Rob Van Winkle is; the artist best known as his stage name, Vanilla Ice, should be known to everyone reading this; and for good reason, but Cool as Ice is in no way one of them. Back in the year of our lord 1991, a movie was released that was meant to be a vehicle to jumpstart Ice’s move from musical icon to acting heartthrob—that idea and this movie both failed. I am actually not sure why I watched this…
I read somewhere that this film takes its influence from The Wild One (1953) starring Marlon Brando, but other than both main characters being named Johnny and a motorcycle or two, I don’t see it. There is an odd opening with some people dancing and Naomi Campbell randomly singing in a club that looks like it doubles as a BDSM hotspot during the week. She looks good, but I am not sure what the point of the intro was. This whole beginning part is groan worthy and perfectly sums up what viewers are in for. Cool as Ice is listed as a musical romance film, but feels more like a bad ninety-one minute long music video or the director’s re-imagining of Pee-wee’s Playhouse.
Ice’s character Johnny is so cool his license plate reads, “State of Mind,” and he stops on the side of the road for random break dancing to clear his head. There is a good amount of slow motion and awkward camera angles to make sure the audience knows how cool this all really is. Johnny attempts to do some motorcycle jump and ends up almost killing the female lead on her horse. Actually, that all looks like a horrible cover for a romance novel, and this scene begins some of the most painful social interactions in movie history. The gang heads into town but one of their bikes breaks down, stranding them there for plot purposes. Kathy, the love interest, has a father who is in witness protection—because of course he is—and this along with some obvious mis-understandings about the bad boy biker create the conflict of the story that should not be looked at too closely, lest we see all of the holes and random hard to believe coincidences in it. Love prevails though and the motorcycle gang of hip-hop stars rescue Kathy’s brother from the criminals and thwart her douchebag boyfriend with ease.
“Drop that zero and get with the hero.”
The story is bad, and the characters do not help. Most of them are two dimensional archetypes or wacky without any reason or depth. There is some ridiculous flirting, more random dancing and rap performances, and some sped up sequences and montages that have me considering drugs. The 90s clothing, hairstyles, and lingo are pretty bad, but at least there was some Super Mario Bros. 3 music in one scene. Several critics say this movie is painfully 90s, but I would argue it does not even fit the time period well. This movie is the epitome of trying too hard. Vanilla Ice’s character is one of the worst parts though. He comes across as some type of rap god philosopher who, though untrained, can take on multiple attackers quite easily, and seems like he has the ‘perfect’ line for every occasion. This is all a façade though, as our hero not only reads Kathy’s diary without her permission, but actually breaks into her room. I do not care if it was to surprise her; a judge would still call it breaking and entering. I haven’t seen that much bravado since Zack Morris.
The film’s cinematography is odd, and as I stated earlier, having a music video or after school special vibe to it; whereas the music tries to put the hip back in hip hop, featuring four original tracks for the film by Vanilla himself, but I spent most of my time laughing at it as well. There is nothing special about any of the acting here, just more eye-rolling and awkward moments. The role of Kathy was originally offered to Gwyneth Paltrow, but her father would not let her take the project because of the script’s sexual nature. Um, okay Mr. Paltrow, if you say so. What that man actually saved his daughter from was a complete box office flop—a surprise to no one I am sure. The movie is so bad in fact that director David Kellogg later disowned the movie; something I was not aware a director could just do. Also, Mr. Kellogg does not have a lot of room to talk, as his other achievements are all under the Playboy Video line and that wretched Inspector Gadget (1999) starring Mathew Broderick.
“WELL HOMEBOY THIS!”
This is another bad film that I simply cannot recommend without friends to aide in the suffering and perhaps a few choice beverages. There is a charm to it that makes me want to treat Ice like the neighborhood slow child; so cute when he tries his best, but he never had a chance. The more I learn about the film, the more of a joke it became. The tagline for Cool as Ice was, “When a girl has a heart of stone, there’s only one way to melt it. Just add Ice.” I almost choked on my drink. If that was not enough though, a message shows up at the end of the credits: B kool stay n skool. That made my soul hurt. There are a ton of movies I watch and then share my ideas on how to fix them or what I would have done differently, but this is a good example of something that just needs the scorched Earth treatment. I wrote about this film finally because of some news I saw about Rob Van Winkle recently and hope the illegal acts were just a promotion for the new season of The Vanilla Ice Project, but a small masochistic part of me hopes Ice has not completely given up on his acting career. I need another good laugh.