By: Henry J. Fromage (Four Beers) –
There’s this weird little subgenre of Midwestern rube comedy out there clearly written by people who do their level best to be asleep for most of their flights fromNew Yorkto LA. Don’t get me wrong, the setups and situations can be pretty hilarious- they just have about as much in common with real life as Middle Earth does.
Bill Pullman’s blandly handsome, slightly douchey everyman features and delivery make him the perfect star for this kind of material, and in Thin Ice he plays a constantly lying small-time insurance salesman who quickly finds himself over his head when he attempts to defraud a feeble-minded old farmer (Alan Arkin) out of a precious old violin that he lucks into. When a mentally unstable burglar alarm installer (Bill Crudup) gets thrown into the mix, things quickly go to hell.
The principal cast clearly has a great time with their roles. Pullmanhas made a nice career playing relatable characters that are both morally flawed and have a bad habit of digging themselves progressively deeper into impossible situations.
Dude. Birth control.
He does a great job once again of this, and has a great supporting cast to play off of. It’s been awhile since I remember seeing Billy Crudup, but he gets to unleash the crazy eyes and smash a few ice cream cones, and Alan Arkin hams up this Midwestern simpleton like few others can.
Since this is a faintly Coen-esque heist film/comedy of errors, of course there’s a twist ending, and it’s a pretty solidly toastworthy one.
Unfortunately, they go way, way out of their way to explain it all. There’s more exposition in the last fifteen minutes than there is in the first seventy-five, a good portion of which is unnecessary and quasi-unsupported by the rest of the film. Let’s try to keep just a hint of mystery and romance, folks.
There’s no recovering from this.
Pacing is a problem for the entire film, not just the end. It seems like it takes forever for the principal plot to get moving, and a ten minute trim wouldn’t have hurt much at all.
Not only is Thin Ice not as clever as it thinks it is, it isn’t quite as funny either. You’ve seen the same characters, jokes, and I suspect even motel convention centers in flicks like this from Fargo to Cedar Rapids.
It is kind of hard to tell these apart.
This darkly comic Midwestern crime caper is far from the best of a pretty good genre, but it’s a pleasant enough way to kill an hour and a half or so.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time Arkin does something crotchety or dumb
Take a Drink: every time Pullman does something ethically questionable
Drink a Shot: every time Pullman digs himself in deeper