Mr. Vanilla Ice was never actually cool, right? All I really know about him is that he did “Ninja Rap” for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, he copied the baseline in “Ice Ice Baby” from Queen’s “Under Pressure,” and he has an enormous dick. Allegedly. I think he’s more meme than man today, but was he ever actually popular to the masses? Apparently not movie audiences if the failure of Cool as Ice is any indication.
Cool as Ice stars Vanilla “Robert Van Winkle” Ice as himself, but he goes by the name Johnny Van Owen–something we find out 42 minutes in. He and his entourage get stuck in a small town where Johnny catches the eye of Kathy (Kristin Minter, one of Kevin’s cousins in Home Alone), a good girl who just needs to cut loose. At least that’s Johnny’s thought, and we can trust him because he’s an asshole, thief, and home invader! He is admittedly better than Kathy’s boyfriend, but only because that guy is made up entirely out of red flags and anger issues. Anyway, the plot kicks in when Kathy’s dad (Michael Gross, AKA Burt from Tremors) has a brief appearance on the local news, which is seen by some bad men. Turns out his current life was part of witness protection as he had been a cop who ratted on some corrupt fellow officers, and they want revenge. And also a bunch of money? Anyway, crazy random happenstances make Kathy’s parents think Johnny is working with the kidnappers, but she knows the real him after spending a day with him in a desert. Johnny and his friends rescue Kathy’s brother, beat up the kidnappers, and saves the day in general. He and Kathy sort of hook up, but it’s more of a fling than a permanent thing.
I don’t know the specifics of the Witness Protection Program, but I’m pretty sure not appearing on the local news is somewhere in the handbook. Back in elementary school one of my classmates was the daughter of a cop, and she stayed out of group photos as some measure of safety for herself and her family. So it makes absolutely no sense why this dude would willing do this, other than he’s an idiot and/or sloppy. He sort of covered his face while on camera, but fat load of good that did!
The whole thing was just a series of uninspired Vanilla Ice music videos strung together with the occasional plot point. It’s Footloose starring a white rapper, except this town is just lame instead of aggressively unfun. The movie doesn’t even have a good pedigree: this was the only full length film writer David Stenn ever wrote, and director David Kellogg is mostly known for commercials. I know I say that I want to see more music video and commercial directors make movies–Detention and Hausu come to mind–but not like this. This was just really bad and… you know, I suppose it really was a shameless commercial for Vanilla Ice. Everything comes together.
I have no one to blame but myself for watching this. See, I do a lot of little things for the blog mostly for myself, and the design of the “Back Home” buttons are one example. They’re color coded to match the last digit of a movie’s year of release–so movies from 1991, 2001, and 2021 all use the same buttons, colored brown-to-gray. Anyway, while looking at the Archives I noticed that all the years formed a continuous chain from 2021 up to 1992, with the next year back being 1989. I figured it was time to fill in those “gaps,” starting with something from 1991. Reading through Wikipedia’s list of movies released that year, I narrowed down my picks to Cool as Ice and Cast a Deadly Spell, a made-for-TV, Lovecraftian, detective noir film. Yes, I skipped over a lot of good choices, but most of the big movies from that year were franchises or things I have plans for later. I honestly don’t know why I picked this garbage above all else–and watched it twice because I went back and watched the RiffTrax version after writing the rough draft of this post–but expect to see Cast a Deadly Spell at some point in the future.
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