Saturday, April 07, 2012

"Thin Ice" is an underwhelming imitation of Coen Brothers' comedy

I suppose that the Coen Brothers will inspire copycat genre films.  But Jill Sprecher’s “Thin Ice” (originally titled “The Convincer”) seems a bit like a prank, not even with the payoff of a “Fargo”.

Greg Kinnear plays a shady insurance agent from Wisconsin.  At a winter convention in Florida, we can tell from his behavior with women that he may be up to no good.  Back home, perhaps in February, he seems to be manipulating an old man so that he can steal his valuable violin.  Then a shady locksmith (Billy Crudup) appears to be blackmailing him, and a friendly neighbor appears to have become a corpse dropped in an ice-fishing lake.  By this time, unfortunately, we realize that we don’t like any of the characters in the movie – all the main players are either pathetic, psychopathic, or just plain despicable.  (Hey, big surprise – enjoyment of a movie depends on the ability to root for or at least empathize with some grown-up characters!) How much of this is real?  Well, his wife probably is really leaving him, and he may never see his good teenage kids again. He’s that bad now as a dad.

The film was shot largely around Minneapolis-St. Paul with the help of the Minnesota Film Board, with which I had quite a bit of contact in my years in Minneapolis (1997-2003) through IFPMSP. 

I have to chuckle at this premise.  I was approached by more than one company to become a life agent a few years ago.  I have no stomach for this cut-throat world; but after all, this is only a movie, right?

The film is distributed by “Art Takes Over” with a production company Werc Werk Works, and an official site here.

I saw this before a rather small Friday night crowd at the AMC Shirlington in Arlington VA.

(Pictures: Mine, in Wisconsin (2011, summer, no ice), and Potomac River, winter, VA (2009))

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