Fargo meets A Simple Plan in this Midwestern tale of a small crime gone horribly awry? No, not really, but that’s what I’d heard about the new Greg Kinnear flick Thin Ice.
Kinnear plays Kenosha, Wisconsin-based insurance salesman Mickey Prohaska who stumbles across an opportunity in the form of a dotty old man named Gorvy (Alan Arkin). Gorvy has a violin that’s valuable, but he doesn’t know it, so Mickey decides to swap it with a cheap Chinese piece o’ crud. This simple plan is sent spinning out of control by the introduction of twitchy security installer Randy (Billy Crudup, of the giant blue penis).
It does invite comparisons with the aforementioned movies. But it has nothing like Plan’s nihilism (nor its starkly beautiful cinematography), nor Fargo’s study of the gradients from good to evil. It’s actually quite a fun movie.
Kinnear is sleazy, which he’s good at, but also charming and likable—which he’s also good at. So just as it’s hard not feel a little schadenfreude over his setbacks at first, it becomes impossible not to empathize with him and hope he finds a way out as he gets deeper in the muck.
Crudup is typically good as the unstable alarm installer. Alan Arkin, wonderful, as always. Bob Balaban, David Harbour and Michelle Arthur round out the cast, with Leah Thompson in a supporting a role, looking kind of haggard as Kinnear’s put-upon but also somewhat cold wife. Michelle Hutchinson has a small role, which is kind of cute, as she was the escort in Fargo not won over by Steve Buscemi’s charms.
The Boy and I were both greatly pleased, and it’s somewhat surprising (at least to us) that the movie has such mediocre ratings on the various sites. Before seeing it, I attributed the ratings to it being a black comedy, which is never a big people pleaser.
But it’s really not that dark. One of the (I think, unpopular) characteristics of a dark comedy is the inversion of morality, where evil is overtly celebrated or rewarded on a meta-level, and this movie—while lacking admirable characters—doesn’t do that.
Nonetheless, it’s not tearing up the box office, so see it while you can, folks!