Cool As Ice DVD review

At the height of his creative powers, pop rapper Vanilla Ice starred in Cool As Ice, a kind of early-90s Rebel Without A Cause. But has time been kind to Ice’s movie?

Sometimes a thing seems like a good idea, but then it’s not. I imagine that remaking Rebel Without A Cause with Vanilla Ice probably didn’t seem like a good idea for long but, apparently, it did for long enough to sign everyone up for Cool As Ice. That being said, it clearly dawned on them that what they were doing was dreadful before the cameras started rolling, because the finished film does not play like a movie being made by people who are taking what they do seriously.

When the chance to review Cool As Ice came up, I naturally jumped at it. It was only after I put the DVD into my player that I was able to properly assess what I was doing.

“Oh wait,” I reasoned. “I actually have to watch this for an hour and a half, and then write a review that isn’t just a load of cheap shots at the guy because he dressed silly and made a terrible song 20 years ago. This is a terrible idea.”

Fortunately, there was plenty in Cool As Ice to keep me entertained, even if it wasn’t for the right reasons. It’s hard to grumble too much about any film that, in the first ten minutes, features Vanilla Ice on a motorbike attempting to race a horse, all sound tracked by a DJ scratching and the voice of an unseen presence, presumably God, saying, “Ah, yeah!”

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The plot of Cool As Ice is about as relevant to it being entertaining as my scrotum is to the fight for world peace. They exist in spite of each other.

The film starts with an entirely unrelated music video that lasts for about four minutes. You find you stop fast forwarding just in time to catch Ice and his pals rolling into town on motorcycles. Whilst driving past a field, Ice spies a young lady that takes his eye. He steals her notebook and then gives it back to her, which is his pick-up method of choice. He also launches into some pretty harsh, unprovoked dissing of her boyfriend (don’t worry, the boyfriend turns out to be a total chump).

As Vanilla Ice sets about romancing the girl, her father sets about ignoring some threats from a couple of tough-as-teardrops gangsters. It turns out that her family became part of a witness protection program after her father made enemies of some crooked cops. He simply doesn’t have time to deal with the problem the villains pose. He’s too busy tutting loudly and being concerned with his only daughter’s budding relationship with a colourfully dressed buffoon on a motorbike.

As you might expect, the gangsters kidnap the ten-year-old boy contingent of her family (in this instance, one member) and have him record a tape version of his own ransom note. Whilst the two parents of the family stupidly think this is the opportune time to bring in the police, their daughter has a better idea. She does the only thing a person would logically do if a member of their family was kidnapped. She steals the ransom note and goes straight to Vanilla Ice.

Ice then rounds up his posse of bikers and heads after the villains, saves the day and then rides into the sunset, stopping only briefly to drive his bike over a car. Then another unnecessarily long music video breaks out.

There are a few genuine positives to be enjoyed from Cool As Ice. One is that the film is actually quite pleasantly colourful. It’s a hyper-tacky music video looking affair. If you have a look at Vanilla Ice’s trousers on the front cover of the DVD, they’re fairly representative of the entire film. It looks a bit like Pee-wee’s Playhouse, but for surly teenagers.

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The other positive is that it’s short. That may sound like a backhanded compliment, but it’s not. The film knows how long it needs to stick around and doesn’t stay long enough to become too boring. If you skip through the two music videos that bookend the film (and you really ought to) it’s a breezy affair.

The difficult thing with this film is, it’s basically impossible to assess. How can you judge a film that features a montage of Vanilla Ice failing to learn how to ride a horse? It’s like trying to start a fist fight with the concept of karma. I don’t really know what to say.

The performances are all alright. I mean, no one is particularly good, but they all seem to understand what’s going on here. No one appears to be under the impression that they’re genuinely making a film. I’m pretty sure a memo went around to the entire cast telling them not to worry, as no one would be watching. Just have fun, guys.

The memo, unfortunately, did not find its way onto the desk of Vanilla Ice. Or rather, he probably did get the memo, but The Iceman don’t read, yo. As such, he postures around like a gold plated tit and has a constant look of impervious confidence on his face. Who can blame him? After all, this was the film that was going to launch him into movie stardom.

Ice’s unintentionally silly delivery of every line, coupled with the slang heavy script, now heavily dated, provides a few cheap laughs, but would be grating if they weren’t featured in such a silly film. It seems that the only person not in on the joke is Ice.

I like to imagine that the tone of the film was explained to him several times, but it just couldn’t penetrate his ice-cold understanding.

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“Vanilla, listen. The film’s just a bit of fun for everybody. Try to play it a bit more camp. Show everyone that you get that this film is silly.”

“The Iceman is taking home the Oscar, yo!”

“No. There’s no way. It’s not an Oscar type film. Try to be a bit wacky. People will credit you with some self-awareness and they’ll think you’re alright.”

“Cool. I’m with it.”

“So, you’ll play it up a bit?”

“Me and the homies gon’ play it real James Dean. Smooth and cooking, aiight.”

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While there’s no evidence that such a conversation ever took place, I’m pretty sure that it did.

Much of the film’s appeal might have disappeared in bigger budget movie. Had the bar fight scene involved better choreography and been performed by proficient stunt men, the film would be missing one of its highlights. (It somewhat undermines Vanilla Ice’s projected tough guy image when he can’t even convincingly pretend to beat people up.)

Similarly, the threat posed by the two unarmed gangsters (presumably to keep the film kid friendly) seems small. It’s hard to be too concerned when anyone could easily neutralise them by bringing three people. They wouldn’t even have to be big people. Three average sized guys who have never been in a fight before could probably do it.

The combination of what’s happening onscreen, the silliness, the colours, the strange and uneven acting, gives the film the feel of a TV advertisement. At no point would I have been surprised to see the lead character look directly into the screen and say, “The Iceman says drink Pepsi, yo. The soda for my generation. Best served ice cold and enjoyed with your homies, player.” I would have really liked that.

I could happily spend all day talking about the weird things that go in Cool As Ice. I’d like to take up a whole paragraph on the ending when, having been thanked by the father of the boy he’s saved, Ice says, “It doesn’t really matter.” There’s a non-dead 10-year-old that says it did matter a bit.

I also wanted to cover the heart-breaking speech the father character gives that explains why he doesn’t like cool people. (I swear I’m not making that up. Finally, we have a film brave enough to tackle the subject of cool discrimination.)

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I also wanted to explain why I’m fairly sure that Vanilla Ice’s character in this film represents the spirit of Christmas. Still, I’m sure you get the gist by now.

So, would I recommend Cool As Ice? Depending on who you are, yeah. If you’re a big snarkasm fan and like laughing at silly fashion trends from 20 years ago and outdated slang, you’ll have a ball. You might also like it if you’re into 80s and 90s television for kids and teenagers.

In fact, I was expecting there to be a wavy fade away at the end that revealed that the whole film had been a fever dream in the mind of Saved By The Bell character Zack Morris about what his life would be like in ten years if he became a rapper.

As I figure it, he fell unconscious while ill as he was raiding Kelly Kapowski’s underwear drawer. The dream ends as he gets shaken awake by his sidekick, Screech, who has been keeping watch and has spotted Mr. Belding coming. The kids then head to the Max for burgers, and Zack learns a lesson of some kind.

Cool As Ice is not offensively bad. It’s quite pleasant to look at and it has a confusing nice streak running through the middle of it. It’d probably work if you’re a group of people in your twenties and you’re drinking beer.

Most importantly, though, it’s a film with a message. Unfortunately, that message was drowned out by the various messages written on Vanilla Ice’s coat. I spotted ‘Yep Yep’, ‘Deep’, ‘Sex Me Up’, ‘Down By Law’, ‘Hype’, ‘Dance’, ‘Oh Yeah’, ‘Dope’ and ‘Roll’. I didn’t see ‘Fresh’, but I assume it’s there. I wonder if, anticipating a sequel, they started writing a rough draft of the coat for Cool As Ice 2: Best Served Chilled.

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Heartbreakingly, the disc features no bonus material. Still, it’s available at a bargain price, so it evens out

Cool As Ice will be released on September 6 and can be pre-ordered from the Den Of Geek Store.


2 out of 5