Cool as Ice: And Other Assorted 90's Nonsense

8lrY1SKA Few interesting facts about “Cool as Ice”: It’s never been released on DVD and the chances of it being on Blu-Ray are slim, Gwyneth Paltrow nearly took the role opposite Vanilla Ice as his love interest but was advised against it by her father who objected the sexual content, on the rare VHS is available on auction for nearly five hundred dollars, and director David Kellogg disowned the film. He later went on to direct “Inspector Gadget” in 1999.

Ah the nineties, a time where people like Milli Vanilli, MC Hammer, and Vanilla Ice were considered edgy music stars who swore to change the way music was heard. What the hell did we know right? Hell when I was a kid Vanilla Ice and Kriss Kross were all we needed for our supply of hip hop and they were considered amazing to the youth of America, in spite of their obvious lack of talent. True today I pretend they never existed, but we ate up their albums religiously and were never afraid to admit it. I even remember being very young and gathering around with a bunch of kids to watch a concert on ABC starring “The New Kids on the Block.”

Man, the nineties were so lame, right? Back then we had people taking off from Vanilla Ice like Snow, Another Bad Creation, and Kriss Kross, Jamaican soul artists Milli Vanilli, and Ecuadorian pop one hit wonder Gerardo. Not to mention there was Marky Mark! Remember Marky Mark? The man behind “Good Vibrations” who punched a boxing bag, strutted around without a shirt and made love to a woman in his music video? Well he turned in to… Mark Wahlberg, future Oscar nominee. You have to admit that by virtue of distance the song is still a pretty nice memento from the mid nineties and is damn catchy if you take it in its context. And the black and white edgy rap video is pretty damn enjoyable if you take an antacid before sitting through it.

Wahlberg must have had a genius publicity team to be able to tear himself away from the white rapper image and become a legitimate actor worthy of acclaimed roles in film. I think deep down Ice always resented that.

But you have to appreciate people like Conan O’Brien who always try to bring it up during interviews where Wahlberg looks on embarrassed and scoffs off the mentions of “Good Vibrations.” Someday he might do a world tour of his greatest hits with Donnie D on the back up. We can dream, can’t we? Wahlberg was smart enough to distance himself from that laughable past while eventually warming up to the appreciation of its nostalgic purposes and continuing on a rather credible acting career instead of beating people up like he did in his early years. Unlike Donnie who went from starring in “Band of Brothers” to being a forty year old re-uniting for a “New Kids” re-union tour. Did anyone actually go to that?

There’s also the Irish rap group House of Pain. You just have to love a group of beer drinking Irish bar room brawlers rapping to lines like “I got more rhymes than the bible’s got psalms.” Their lead singer eventually went on to becoming the equally sucky Everlast. And does anyone remember when Brian Austin Green (Beverly Hills 90120) and David Faustino (Married… with Children) released their rap singles? I quite vividly remember their attempts at rap stardom with a music video starring Faustino that was aired once and never spoken of again. Vanilla definitely bred a legion of privileged white boys with huge paychecks rapping about the slums and gangsters.

Well either way the nineties were pretty damn cheesy with some atrocious “artists” who came and went faster than we could blink our eyes. Some of them even won Grammies… not like today where we have such multi-talented icons like Lady Gaga, Justin Beiber, Kesha, and Miley Cyrus. I mean those people have more credibility and longevity don’t they? Don’t they?

I digress. Watching “Cool as Ice” nearly twenty years later reminds me of the following disappointment that occurred when my brother and I were children asking our father to rent “Cool as Ice” and then becoming gradually crushed at the fact that the movie was not only very boring, but made us realize that Vanilla Ice really wasn’t as cool as we originally thought he was. And I think everyone in America kind of realized this as the movie was pretty much a flop at the box-office only staying in theaters for three weeks. I think this is what led to Ice’s anger issues that led to a horrific encounter on MTV where he smashed a set to pieces injuring John Stewart and Janeane Garofolo who hilariously kept their cool in spite of their obvious anger toward him.

This guy was just a joke from the beginning and it took a while for his fans to come around to the rude awakening. Especially after learning that this boy from the hood who grew up in the streets was actually from a wealthy family and probably only knew of the streets by music videos. Also the fact that he peaked at rapping with large dancing bipedal turtles probably fuels his rage issues.

This abomination, an obvious vehicle for the man’s dwindling fame, has the gall to be a very loose remake of the masterpiece “Rebel Without a Cause” and is a terrible but rather confounding time capsule of the nineties that takes everything that was horrible about that decade and squeezes it all in a merciful ninety minutes. I can’t believe I ever managed to sit through this because watching it many years after, I found it nearly impossible to finish it. Does that mean it should be forgotten because it’s so awful? If “Transformers” could get receive a bunch of DVD and Blu-Ray releases, I don’t see why this can’t. Shockingly enough this was a precursor to another rap film vehicle starring a superior white rapper named Eminem who in the middle of his career released the vastly superior “8 Mile.”

Ice plays Johnny, an obvious James Dean wannabe that Kellogg and co. stress ad nauseum. They painfully make it clear that this is the next James Dean and we have to adjust to that because he wears fresh clothes, drives flashy motorcycles, broods, and has a jacket that has the words “Oh Yeah,” “Down By Law,” “Sex me Up,” “Dope,” “Ice,” and a plethora of other slang words that were outdated even in the early nineties. “Cool as Ice” tries to hide the fact that it’s basically just a promotional movie for the singles released subsequent the film’s release, but there’s no denying that most, if not all of the movie is just one big excuse to feature Ice rapping with painfully horrific jump cuts and quick cuts of people dancing. And somewhere in here, there is a plot of some kind.

Johnny, after partying all night, still has enough strength to ride his cycle all day long and inevitably comes across Kathy, a young woman riding a horse through a fields. Through his sheer force of Ice-itude, he jumps a fence without a ramp or hill, and pisses off Kathy, who we later find out is under Witness Protection. Why a girl hiding from criminals would ride a horse in the middle of nowhere beside a busy highway is beyond me, but this is Ice’s universe. If he wills it, it is no dream.

Johnny and his crew are no joke. They ride flashy motorcycles and even have the balls to stop in the middle of a residential street laughing at old people in their wack cars honking their horns. They then proceed to drive through a closed off neighborhood mocking the wack houses as all the wack neighbors look them over in shock as if Ice and his crew were riding around naked with a KKK mask on their heads. Johnny is the coolest cast out of the group being able to win over basically anyone he comes in contact with in spite of possessing zero personality or charm.

Johnny even scoffs off his friends’ weird habits of concocting weird foods to eat while they room with an old couple who are conveniently comically eccentric while Kellogg makes a special note of featuring Johnny practicing dance moves like a deity of a sorts. Oddly enough the neighborhood they happened in to is the same neighborhood Kathy lives in which Johnny nearly killed moments before. His reaction upon seeing her ride up to her house? “Awwwww Yeah!!” No, seriously. The script demands nothing more than this from Ice.

Then after making it apparent that anyone Kathy gets with is automatically pointless, Johnny offers up that nugget of wisdom of dropping the zero and getting with a hero. Kathy actually finds this amusing. On what level is never actually verified, really. Maybe she finds him corny, but oddly enough we’re supposed to believe his horrific one liner turns her on. Kathy is a straight A student from the privileged neighborhood and we have to believe that this white rapper who dresses in flashy clothing and drives in a high priced cycle is from the wrong side of the tracks. This is preceded by an insane montage of Kathy’s family living their mundane home life through a fast forward sequence that is awfully out of place and just chaotic in its delivery. Why anyone thought this sequence would serve as a good introduction to the family is just mind-numbing.

Once again we never exactly find out why Kathy’s father would allow a network to profile her for her achievements if he knows damn well that they’re on the run from crooked cops. But I guess we have to have some excuse for Johnny to realize he’s in love with her in spite of only knowing her for two minutes. It’s a love connection, what can I say? This inevitably leads him to her house yet again to chase her to the Sugar Shack, a night club for the uppity white teens of the local town where they’re forced to listen to a wack band that is pulled off stage once Johnny and his crew decide to tear it up for everyone and seduce these uptight teens with their dope rhymes. The set up in every turn is just there for Johnny to rap whenever humanly possible.

Watching “Cool as Ice” is something I think everyone should endure at least once in their life, because it embodies every single thing that was awful about the nineties.

Like “Breakin'” from the eighties, “Cool as Ice” is a time capsule of the nineties with every bit of bad fashion choice, horrific actors, terrible directors, really painful set pieces, and everyone’s musical option: sampling classic songs to modify them for your painful lyrics a la Ice rapping to the beat of “Thank you for Letting Be Myself,” a performance that is so comical it has to be seen to be believed. Going through this monstrosity yet again after so many years I can remember now that my brother and I never made it through the entire movie. We either fell asleep or gave up as we always did once a movie got boring for us.

As with most films of this ilk, the story (I use that term loosely) tries to portray its star as being everything to everyone. He can drive, he can sing, he can dance, he can tell jokes, he can basically talk his way out of anything and he even manages to outwit and outfight a group of men clubbing a motorcycle making quick work of them without ever missing a beat. The fight between these guys and Ice is hilarious since the choreography and stunt work is so piss poor. Hell Johnny is so cool he manages to sneak in to Kathy’s house in the middle of the night, sleep beside her, and stick a piece of ice in to her mouth when she wakes up and she isn’t the least bit horrified by his presence. She just laughs it off and goes along with his ability to be a ninja and not suffer any consequences. If Ice wills it, it is no dream.

Unfortunately the ability Ice aka Johnny lacks is being unable to prevent others from being sucked in to the black hole that is Ice. Kristin Minter as the sexy love interest Kathy is about as bland a leading lady as you can imagine. Every essence of charm and personality this woman tries to exude is cancelled out by Johnny’s disturbing talent for winning her over regardless of what he does or how he acts. But hey when Johnny is able to ride through the country from a small cul de sac, to a barren desert, and in to a serene open field in a little under a minute without losing any daylight, I can understand what a girl would find attractive about him. Johnny apparently has superpowers, and we are not supposed to question this.

I may not be the biggest fan of Eminem but at least he portrayed himself as human in “8 Mile.” He was a down on his luck factory worker who, in spite of winning a rap battle in the climax, still had to work his ass off in the final scenes and didn’t go anywhere in his life. In “Cool as Ice” Johnny does nothing but strut around in bad clothes and deliver clumsy one-liners to Kathy who finds his penchant for being one dimensional as something of an attraction. I like to think that when they did eventually get married, Kathy ended up being a school marm who completely worked Johnny in to an upright miserable family man who was just her little lump of clay to mold to her own liking. That would be a great way to end the story of Johnny.

The rest of the story involves Kellogg picturing Johnny giving dark brooding stares, interacting with Kathy’s utterly obnoxious little brother, Johnny’s friends dancing in the streets for no apparent reason (when you’re that cool you don’t need music to dance to), and of course those two crooked cops who won’t let Kathy’s dad off the hook. They appear in the movie only when Johnny’s love story with Kathy fails to keep the movie afloat. Eventually as you would guess the love story entangles with the crime story and once Kathy’s absolutely moronic little brother is kidnapped, Johnny becomes a master detective being able to track him by the random sounds on a cassette tape and snap in to action to save him instead of contacting the police with the information. Because it’s Ice. He can do anything and he will. And like Batman, he and his crew come to the rescue and are greeted by police without questions or consequences and Johnny wins the day and the gal.

The movie comes to a laughable close as Johnny manages to jump on stage at his local underground club to unleash some dope rhymes and raps while Kathy writhes and moans with every single word he utters. I never thought singing could lead a girl to experience a mind blowing orgasm, but hey this is Vanilla Ice. All things are possible when Vanilla Ice is concerned. It was fun re-visiting the nineties again, but I doubt I’ll ever re-visit this piece of garbage ever again. In spite of that, someone has to release this on DVD and or Blu-Ray because if this masterpiece continues to live in obscurity without a proper release, it will forever be forgotten! Someone has to pay for Rob Van Winkle’s retirement.

“b kool stay n skool.”