Photo via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons license
Vanilla Ice, a.k.a. Robert Van Winkle, hit the height of his fame in the early 90s. Vanilla Ice wrote the fastest selling hip hop album of all time with his first commercial album, To the Extreme, which was a deluxe edition of Hooked, an indie release. His popularity exploded to the point when there was a Ken doll made in his image and his own movie, Cool as Ice. Cool as Ice has earned itself a place of infamy in the film world, mainly for its “so bad it’s good” vibe. The movie was a commercial failure at the time, practically ruining Vanilla Ice’s brand. Van Winkle went through a rough patch after this film’s release as he was involved in a theft of pool filters. It’s easy to understand why this movie performed so poorly at the box office. It’s filled with awful dialogue, bad acting, and nonsensical drivel.
The movie starts off with Johnny Van Owen (played by Vanilla Ice) and his cronies dancing erratically in a poorly lit warehouse to the jam “Cool as Ice (Everybody Get Loose)” sung by Naomi Williams, who was so famous in the nineties that she attended Bill Clinton’s inauguration party. The extended party scene ends with a random girl approaching Johnny and giving him her number because he’s “just that cool.” Van Owen and co. then cruise on down to small town America for some strange reason and end up committing vehicular assault against the female lead, Kathy, in an attempt to flirt.
The movie slows down quite a bit at this point, trapping the Van Owen and his crew in this town, leaving Johnny more time to hit on Kathy and to give the audience the timeless line “drop that zero and get with the hero” as his crew is shown eating revolting meals in surrealist rooms. Later that night, Johnny and his “homies” force a local band off the stage and humiliate Kathy’s boyfriend in front of most of his friends at the local club. The very next, day completely out of the blue, Kathy’s father is kidnaped by crooked cops. Of course, Johnny saves the dad, gets the girl, and does so in style.
It’s quite easy to see how this disjointed movie was rejected by critics and Vanilla Ice fans alike, but I prefer to see this movie as a time capsule. A time capsule that allows the viewer to see what the nineties’ media was like and a capsule to witness how a celebrity who gained too much fame too quickly led to disastrous exploitation as it still does today. Cool as Ice will never be my favorite movie, but it will always take up a special “radical” place in my heart.