Friday, December 16, 2011

“Thin Ice” – Movie Review



This week was the final movie class of the Fall Semester and we saw the drama “Thin Ice” (AKA “The Convincer”) starring Greg Kinnear, Alan Arkin, Billy Crudup, Lea Thompson and Bob Balaban.


When an insurance salesman tries to scam an old man, he inadvertently gets involved in a murder – but will he be able to get away with both crimes?


Mickey Prohaska (Kinnear) is one of the sleaziest and most dishonest insurance salesmen you have ever had the displeasure to meet; either despite or as a direct result of his duplicitous behavior, his Wisconsin-based insurance business is suffering – and the fact that he’s incurring additional expenses due to the recent separation from his wife Jo Ann (Thompson) doesn’t help financial matters either. So, when an opportunity arises to write an unnecessarily expensive insurance policy for Gorvy (Arkin), an eccentric elderly man who lives with his beloved dog, Mickey grabs it tightly with both hands refusing to let go.

In the course of working on the policy, Mickey learns that Gorvy owns an expensive antique violin, valued at around $25,000 by a professional appraiser (Balaban). Recognizing that the doddering old man is barely aware he even owns the musical instrument, Mickey sees this as a chance to cash in by selling the violin himself and pocketing the money. Devising a plan to replace the actual violin with a fake, Mickey tries to gain entry to Gorvy’s place but can’t due to a recently-installed security system for which he doesn’t know the code. Randy (Crudup), the belligerent locksmith who originally installed the system, is convinced by Mickey to grant him access to the house. Once there, Randy discovers Mickey’s true intent and immediately wants in on the scheme in exchange for not reporting Mickey to the police. Reluctantly, Mickey agrees – but when Randy kills a nosy neighbor snooping around Gorvy’s house at the time, the crime now escalates to something beyond what either of them had originally anticipated.

Quickly disposing of the body, the two men now turn their attention to rapidly selling the instrument so that they can acquire the money and finally be done with each other once and for all. Complications develop, however, when the police begin to investigate Gorvy’s missing neighbor. Getting increasingly nervous, Randy threatens to provide evidence to the police of Mickey’s plot about the insurance scam and complicity in the murder when he finds out that Mickey is somewhat cooperating with their investigation. But when the pair ultimately determine that they have found a buyer for the antique, can they get their payday before the cops get wise?


Given all of the plot contrivances piling up one after another throughout this movie, I have to admit that I really had quite a good deal of trouble with this script and as a result, can’t recommend “Thin Ice” very strongly when it opens next month -- if indeed it does (more about that later). Despite the fact that it has an excellent cast and the movie played at the Sundance Film Festival, this story has so many problems with it that at some point, I found it difficult to suspend my disbelief due to the number of dramatic conceits that occurred. One bright spot about this movie was Billy Crudup’s performance as the security system installer – he was simultaneously funny and frightening.

Another problem with the movie is that the story can tend to be a little confusing, what with all of the twists and double-crosses. One thing our instructor mentioned – and I have to admit that I must agree with him on this point -- was that “Thin Ice” was particularly confusing when the filmmakers try to explain how the story is resolved at the end of the movie; too much information is crammed down the viewer’s throat too quickly and the net result is that very little (if any of it) can be processed.

You may find it something of a challenge in the event you want to see this movie. For one thing, the title may change. We saw this movie under the title of “Thin Ice”, but our instructor told us that up until about three weeks ago, it was known as “The Convincer”. If you do a little research on this movie, you may find information about it under either title. Another reason you may find “Thin Ice”/”The Convincer” challenging is because it has a history of being wrapped up in so many lawsuits, there’s a strong possibility that it may never even get released at the end of January as is currently scheduled. Good luck!

Prior to the screening, actress Jill Hennessy was interviewed. You might know Hennessy from such television series as “Law & Order” and “Crossing Jordan”. While she didn’t have any association to the film we saw this night, she was there to discuss her experience on the film “Roadie” (which we saw in our movie class a couple of weeks ago) and also to promote the fact that she is performing as a singer/guitarist at various clubs here in New York City. Originally from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Hennessy’s family eventually moved to Toronto, where she took up with street performers as a singer during her teenage years. As a result of hanging out with the musicians, she was eventually able to teach herself how to play the guitar. At the end of the interview, she performed one of her own compositions, which appeared in the film “Roadie”.



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