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The One-Line Summary: Hip-hop rapper and dancer Johnny Van Owen (Vanilla Ice), who lives life by his own rules, traveling with his troupe from city-to-city, rolls into a small town on his bright neon yellow high-performance sportbike and catches the eye of straight-as-an-arrow college girl Kathy Winslow (Kristin Minter), who hasn’t done a rebellious thing in her life, and, despite getting swept up in her family’s troubled background involving witness protection and crooked cops, falls for the pretty brunette, winning her over because he treats her right but mostly because he’s cool as ice.
The Two-Line Blurb: Directed by David Kellogg, Cool as Ice was meant to be the star-making film debut of then popular recording artist Vanilla Ice (Robert Matthew Van Winkle), putting a 90s hip-hop spin on the tried and true story of a rebel riding into town but instead fizzled at the box office amid devastating critical backlash and audience disinterest, though does feature future Academy award winner Janusz Kamiński in his first role as director photography and cinematographer. With a misguided attempt as tapping into the superficial fashion and dance craze of the time, the film loses any chance for longevity, while Vanilla Ice’s wildly over-the-top “cool” attitude reduces the script to nothing more than fortune cookie witticisms and aimless dialogue.
The Three-Line Set-up: This moment is all about being cool, and starts with Johnny, on his motorcycle, seeing Kathy riding a horse, following her and deciding that she’s with the wrong boyfriend, a college-bound guy named Nick (John Newton) that Johnny calls a “zero.” A bit later, after trying to make a date with Kathy, he finds her at a dance club called the Sugar Shack where he does an impromptu rap and dance number that succeeds in turning Kathy away from Nick. A humiliated Nick and a few of his cronies stakeout the club that night, eying Johnny’s friend’s motorcycles parked outside, thinking some property damage is the answer to getting revenge.
The Four-Line Moment: After saving Kathy from a pair of stalkers looking for Kathy’s father, Johnny brings her safely home and returns to the club, only to see a gang of boys with baseball bats smashing motorbikes. Johnny walks over, smooth, and inquires to what they are up to, leading to a showdown and then a fistfight that is utterly one-sided despite being outnumbered. With hip-hop record scratches and punches accentuated by 90s backbeats, the fight is like a comic book come to life, minus speech bubbles with ZAP and POW spread across the screen as Johnny take them out one-by-out in a terribly slow and awkwardly choreographed fight that is more wince inducing than exciting. A relic of the era, this shameless cashgrab doesn’t have any charm or humor and is far too focused on attitude than story for its own good.
The Five-Word Review: Boring as ice, ice baby.