Johnny Van Own (Vanilla Ice) is a rapper – or at least thinks he is – that roams from town to town, gigging with his crew. While out biking one day, they’re left stranded in a small town after a member’s bike breaks down and is left at a local repair shop. Johnny, though, finds a silver lining in this setback when he sets eyes on local girl and honor student Kathy Winslow (Kristin Minter). She’s turned off by him – so is her boyfriend – but that doesn’t stop Johnny from pursuing the girl of his dreams.
And with pants that look like they came out of the oversized section at a Gymboree, who’s to say he doesn’t have a shot?
Meanwhile, Kathy’s father Gordon (Michael Gross) is suspicious of Johnny, believing him to be involved with some shady men from his past.
This film is headlined by Vanilla Ice. What more needs to be said?
I’ll continue anyway.
This is the familiar story of the “rebel”, bike-riding boy that falls for the smart, levelheaded, attractive girl, who initially hates him at first, but you know that means in – three, two, one – they’re in love. And, of course, the dad disapproves ’cause he just doesn’t understand, but he’s at least gonna try and act intimidating – while wearing a homely looking sweater vest – while he threatens the boy to “stay away from my daughter or else”. Then, at the end, the boy earns the father’s favor and we get that heartfelt pause between the two of them, followed by the dad saying, “… Thanks.”
That’s pretty much it, other than the two criminal nimrods from Gordon’s past that provide a pointless “thriller” subplot. I guess they’re supposed to be tough too ’cause they talk with that Brooklyn mob accent: “Hey, yo… Jimmy! Whats youse doin’?!”
At the forefront, though, is the relationship that develops between Johnny and Kathy. Together, these two have the romantic chemistry of Romeo and Juliet.
After they committed suicide.
“Drop that zero and gets with the hero!”
Forget Hallmark. This guy needs to be writing love cards for Valentine’s Day.
Of course, you know Johnny and Kathy are gonna end up together. Her disgust of him when they first meet pretty much sets it in motion. Usually, though, in even the worst of all chick flicks, it takes a bit of time for the two to warm up to each other, unlike here, where she’s lounging in his lap with their tongues down each other’s throat by their next meet.
Truly, love at first sight – in this case, literally – does exist.
Just after spending one day – just one day – with Johnny, Kathy firmly tells her dad that he doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about and that she trusts Johnny. I would’ve hated having to raise her as a kid ’cause something tells me she would’ve seen the first van parked by the playground with a sign on the side and went, “Ooh, this guy must be good! He’s got candy!!!!”
To be fair, though, her initial boyfriend is a douche. Textbook, film cliche douche: jeans, tucked in, casual collared shirt, sports jacket and a Scott Baio Charles in Charge era hairdo. Those are the tell-tale signs. Then again, Kathy just leaves one douche for another type of douche: baggy, neon-bright pants, shades, high top fade hairdo, and a tragic addiction to always having to get down at random moments throughout the movie. When you suddenly begin to hear cheesy hip hop beats, you know he’s nearby.
Director David Kellogg essentially has created a 90 minute music video where Vanilla Ice just bops around other people like a manic hoppity hop, surrounded by set pieces that look like it was filmed inside a DZ: Discovery Zone. Four lines will be spoken, followed by a hip hop beat with some wild and wacky dancing by everyone. Then we get Johnny and Kathy alone on a construction site, where Johnny states how nice it’d be to have a family. It’s at that moment where we finally connect with Johnny and truly feel for – wait, here comes the music again. Now Johnny and Kathy are dancing around construction, but in slow-motion this time ’cause I guess that’s what makes it romantic.
And, of course Kathy has to have a kid brother too. Why? Well, so he can be kidnapped. Haven’t films taught you anything? Kid + Criminals in a movie = kid’s getting kidnapped near the end. Plus, Vanilla Ice has to redeem himself to the family somehow, and he does so by having him and his gang beat up the two criminals. How weak do you have to be to get your ass kicked handily by the mastermind behind “Ice Ice Baby”? Then again, now that I think of it, they probably weren’t fighting. They were probably all just dancing again.
It’s the type of film that screams I Love the ’90s and was probably made for $10, 8 of which went to Michael “the film’s big get” Gross (or as I like to think of him as, Steven Keaton from Family Ties… “Sha-la-la-la!”). Apparently Netflix feels they’re too good for this, but you may be able to find a copy – in VHS format, of course – at a random garage sale with a 25 cent sticker on it, right in between two other VHS versions of 3 Ninjas and Highlander II: The Quickening. Whether the horrendous dialogue, Vanilla Ice’s virtuoso performance or the way he always has to have his “entrance” whenever he pops up onscreen, there’s something to find a laugh in within this train wreck. The poster says, “Starring in his first motion picture”, but they should’ve also arrowed and penciled in “and last” in between first and motion. Oh, well. Acting didn’t cut it, but at least Ice had a lengthy, solid music career to fall back on.
I’m now starting to realize what may have convinced Romeo and Juliet to kill themselves.