Youtube Film Club: Ski Patrol (1990)


As long-term ISCFC readers may be aware, a while ago we did a small series on skiing-based comedies. I thought we’d got them all, but thanks to the wonders of Youtube I found another one, and (aside from films which transcend the ski-comedy genre, like “Better Off Dead” or “Hot Tub Time Machine”) while this won’t be knocking “Out Cold” off its perch as the best of the lot, it’s not bad.

As the opening credits rolled, I fairly accurately predicted the characters, their relationships, and the main bits of the plot. But I’m not very clever, and I’m pretty sure you could have done the same thing. It’s the stereotypical ski movie – there’s a group of wacky skiers (in this case, the “ski patrol” of the title); a group of snooty assholes (the ski instructors, with one hot female to fall in love with our star); a crusty but loveable old resort owner; the evil developer who wants to demolish the place and turn it into a soulless corporate resort; a stupid reason why the owner can’t keep running the place; and an implausible ending where everything’s okay due to the heroes being good at skiing.


Told you it wasn’t that difficult. What “Ski Patrol” has is a strong comic cast, though, so even though they’re used sorta poorly in this movie, you can always remember the good stuff they’ve been in. We’ve got Martin Mull as the evil developer, Paul Feig (now much better known as a director) as the comic relief of the ski patrol, a whole ton of comedy “That Guy” actors, and (by a number of years, his first role) US standup / chat show host George Lopez.


I think this movie ran a bit short on script, or money, or something, and had to use all the footage they had, because there are certain scenes which just never seem to end. TK Carter as Iceman has a few songs to showcase his sub-Jay Pharaoh impression skills, and they show every damn second of those songs. There’s also a ski bum who’s possibly supposed to come off as wacky or a bit rebellious, but just seems to be fairly severely mentally ill (and who causes a lot of the problems the resort has, but isn’t arrested or thrown out or anything like that. Paul Feig’s dancing is showcased at excruciating length. The ski patrol organises a “free for all”, which is just an entirely pointless way to waste three minutes. And so on.


“Ski Patrol” is, though, the answer to two of the most obscure movie trivia questions of all time. They are:

  1. Which movie has the most pratfalls per minute of any movie ever?
  2. Which movie has two different non-white guys doing Rodney Dangerfield impressions, at different times?


I like dogs, so I was pleased to see the main guy (who was so bland I don’t remember his name) has an English bulldog, who farts and belches and saves the day at the end, but also looks distinctly unimpressed when getting dragged through snow as his short legs can’t get over the ruts in the road. Poor fella!


At one point, our dangerously psychotic friend gets hold of what looks like windsurfing kit, with skis attached; and without knowing any of the science, I can tell you why you don’t see people “wind-skiing”, because the speed you’re going downhill at will just act as a force the other way on the sail and slow you down. The whole scene (presumably put in there as product placement for a windsurfing company) is the perfect encapsulation of this movie – desperately trying to be funny, occasionally succeeding but not holding up to a moment’s scrutiny.


While you will definitely be bored (and slightly dismayed by the repeated anti-Chinese racism) there’s plenty of okay stuff in this, and provided you’re with a good group of people, you’ll have a laugh or two. It’s a family movie which the advertising will have you suspecting is a T&A movie – no nudity, no swearing, no excessive drinking or drug use – which is unexpected but okay (if only the bits where these movies would have those interludes were a bit better).


Rating: thumbs in the middle


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