Out Cold (2001)

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If this film had consisted of its first five minutes, followed by 85 minutes of footage of snow falling, or an empty bar, or of the cast asleep, it would have still been 100000x better than “Snowboard Academy”. This started off a philosophical discussion at home about how we’d have felt about this if we’d never seen the other movie, but nothing exists in a vacuum (and it’s a lot of brain power to be spending on snowboarding movies).

It’s an “ice movie” – wacky band of layabouts at a ski resort, which is threatened by closure or catastrophic change by an outside force (bank, rich scumbag or developer). But “Out Cold” shows how you can actually make a pretty decent film from that template, and the first step is hiring a good cast. For comedy fans, the three main faces you’ll recognise are Zach Galifianakis, David Koechner and Thomas Lennon but it’s packed with dependables – Jason London, AJ Cook (from “Criminal Minds”), Willie Garson (“Sex and the City”, “White Collar”), Caroline Dhavernas, and Lee Majors, to name a few.

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Rick (London) is still mourning the end of his holiday relationship with Anna (Dhavernas) – the name of the bar in Cancun where they met, “Pedro O’Horny’s”, made me laugh far more than it probably should have done. Jenny (Cook) is one of his co-workers and basically throws herself at him for the first half-hour or so of the movie, but he’s an idiot like all men in these sorts of movies are idiots. He’s best friends with brothers Pigpen and Luke (Galifianakis), and they all work at Bull Mountain, Alaska, where the famous former owner’s son (Garson) is wanting to sell up to developer Mr Majors (Majors). Firstly, they’re happy, as a new owner means new investment for the great snowboard run Rick has planned, but he has a lot of other plans that don’t involve a bunch of drunk slobs. Plus, Majors has two daughters – one is Victoria Silvstedt, and guess who the other is?

With some comedies, the feeling you get is the first time you see the characters is the first time they’ve met, and we’re told about rather than shown their relationships. The core cast of this feels like they’re actually friends, though, and it just makes it easier – no need for lengthy “hey, do you remember how we became friends?” speeches, comedy flows more naturally, everything. When they’re given their new Majors Resorts outfits, their reactions feel natural…anyway, this is a huge mark in the plus column for this movie.

Zach Galifianakis really doesn’t like this (although he’s made worse since he became super-famous – the last Hangover movie, “Operation: Endgame” and “Due Date” all spring to mind), and it’s occasionally easy to see why. It feels like an unreconstructed 80s teen raunch movie at times, with Luke attempting to have sex with the outlet pipe of a hot tub and getting stuck in it all night; their initial reaction to a wheelchair; and the very odd lesbian chat room scene. Plus, there’s a lot of violence substituting for humour, but I think that can work, as long as you don’t do it too often. Plus he gets fellated by a polar bear at one point, so there’s that.

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I think its worst crime is occasional laziness in the plotting. No businessman in history has paid millions for new signs and uniforms for the business they were buying, before signing the contract to actually buy it; the central coincidence is staggeringly large, even for a cheapo comedy; quite a lot of people really ought to have been arrested after the end credits; and no attempt is made to put any sort of interesting spin on the central will-they-won’t-they relationship, leaving it to move on rails to its inevitable conclusion.

But, I really enjoyed “Out Cold”, even if it’s a rewrite away from being genuinely great – Lennon is one of Hollywood’s top screenwriters (look at his credits) so they could have asked him to have a run at it, plus Galifianakis could have contributed. There are obvious scenes where they let him or Koechner just go wild, and they’re usually hilarious; plus, Pigpen (Derek Hamilton) appears to be doing a movie-long impression of Crispin Glover, and it’s great. There’s a lot of little things that show care was taken, like Dhavernas wearing a coat from ISO, the organisation from “The Six Million Dollar Man”, and the way that large chunks of the plot are not-so-subtle tributes to “Casablanca” – could Humphrey Bogart have delivered a line as beautifully as Jason London’s “We’ll always have Pedro O’Horny’s”?

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Add on a heck of a good soundtrack and a number of fun outtakes and you’ve got a completely decent movie. The racing scenes are shot well too, by no means a given in this sort of movie, and I’d be surprised if you don’t enjoy this. Its low rating on places like IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes is a complete joke, it’s way funnier than those reviews would have you believe. You don’t even need to be on some pointless quest to watch every winter-sport comedy movie ever made to enjoy it!

Rating: thumbs up

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One thought on “Out Cold (2001)

  1. Pingback: Youtube Film Club: Ski Patrol (1990) |

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