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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: July 14: Thin Ice


July 14: Thin Ice

"An insurance agent looking for a way out of frigid Wisconsin is blackmailed by an unstable locksmith in the theft of a rare violin that belongs to a retired farmer."
Directed by: Jill Sprecher, Rated: R, 93 minutes

Thin Ice is a sad little attempt to rip off Fargo. An every-man is down on his luck and seeks a way to make some money, everything goes wrong, there's a very violent character that gets involved, and of course, the ice-cold setting where nothing exciting ever happens. However, unlike Fargo, Thin Ice fails to deliver on nearly every front. It's boring and drags out way too long (even for 93 minutes) and while it has a couple of funny moments, the film is empty of any dark comedy. None of the characters are really likable, which is a shame, given the cast, and the entire movie feels like it's trying way too hard to follow in the Coen Brothers' footsteps. Their shoes are simply too big to fill, let alone by someone who has directed only two other films in her fifteen year career. 

And writer of one episode of Big Love

Mickey Prohaska (Greg Kinnear) is a swarmy insurance agent that will do anything for money. He has his scripts, knows the game, and will pitch his product to anyone, anytime. He's constantly looking out for himself and is a downright douche bag. When everything in his life goes to shit, and he needs to make money fast, he turns to an antique violin owned by the almost cenial Gorvy Hauer (Alan Arkin). Mickey attempts to steal the violin and sell it for $25,000 but when unexpected visitor, Randy (Billy Crudup), shows up and catches Mickey in the act, everything spirals out of control. Randy's a petty criminal and when a friend of Gorvy shows up, threatening to call the police, Randy acts without thinking and kills the man. He then uses the murder as blackmail against Mickey, a witness and semi-accomplice, and demands money him or he'll turn them both in. Of course, from here on out, everything else goes completely wrong (to the point of being unbelievable), and Mickey loses his handle on his personal life, his marriage, and his job. Thin Ice struggles at telling a story worth watching and whenever a problem is closed to be solved, another unexpected issue arises for really no other reason but to prolong the plot. Yes, once the action gets going it's a little interesting, but soon after everything gets too messy and too ridiculous to even bother with. You're left waiting for the film to end and even then, at its conclusion, Thin Ice cops out an ending even more ridiculous than what happened in the first ninety minutes. It tries way too hard to be something smart and completely falls apart on itself in the attempt.

One o' da things wrong wit Thin Ice is da fact there be no funny accents, eh? 

As a huge fan of pretty much every person in the cast, I tried really hard to like the film. Each of the performances are strong, especially from the underrated Crudup who gives the most laughs and what the f**k moments. I really don't know why this man is not in more movies as I find him incredibly hilarious. Crudup completely steals the film and without his presence, Thin Ice would practically impossible to watch. Sadly, he's not featured enough and the film suffers for it. Thin Ice is tolerable, at best, but it's no game-changing comedy or proper homage to Fargo. The great cast can't save the poor pacing and inconsistent comedy and turns the whole thing into a huge mess. 

I'd recommend skipping Thin Ice. The movie is can't hone in on what it wants to be. When you have a completely unlikable lead character, whom you're supposed to sympathize for, you know you're going to have a bad time. Thin Ice is another example of the fact great acting can't save a bad script. In the end, I feel the film is just too ambitious for its own good, trying too hard to be like Fargo and other great dark comedies. Thin Ice tries to lure you into the story of a man's life spiraling, but when everything that happens grows more ridiculous than the next moment, any sense of suspense for the man turns into confusion and bewilderment. 

The Good:
Billy Crudup stealing the show from an otherwise great cast 
The Bad:
a messy script that's all over the place and can't quite pinpoint the kind of film it wants to be
The Ugly:
wondering how a no-name sometimes filmmaker thought she has what it takes to take on a Coen Brothers classic

Overall: 5.0/10

Re-watch? No thanks
Buy? Never

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