Cast: Mickey Prohaska (Greg Kinnear), Gorvy Hauer (Alan Arkin), Randy (Billy Crudup), Bob Egan (David Harbour), Karla Gruenke (Michelle Arthur), Frank Richie (Peter Thoemke), Jo Ann Prohaska (Lea Thompson), Leonard Dahl (Bob Balaban)
Director: Jill Sprecher
Theatrical release: 06/12/2012 DVD Date: 06/12/2012
Rating: R Running Time: 93 minutes
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Review: Thin Ice is one of those tricky movies to review. Spelling out what you like — or didn't like — about it inevitably leads to a spoiler or two. But I'm going to try anyway.
Greg Kinnear stars as Mickey Prohaska, an insurance salesman, the kind that will twist any situation into one that he benefits from. If that means lying outright to a client or potential client — or to his boss, secretary, associates, employees, family, and anyone and everyone else that may enter his sphere — so be it. He takes on a new employee, Bob Egan (David Harbour), with the express intention of taking credit for his sales. One potential client that Bob has identified is an elderly man, Gorvy Hauer (Alan Arkin), whose house is filled with stuff of questionable value. Bob convinces Gorvy to get an appraiser in to take a look around, hidden treasures and all that. Impatient to cash a commission check, Mickey sees an opportunity to overinsure the property and its contents based on his own judgment of its value. It isn't long before a potentially valuable item surfaces in Gorvy's house, a violin. A copy, to be sure, but a very good one and rather rare on its own. Value, maybe $25,000. Mickey, who realizes that Gorvy has no idea what he has, tries to buy it from him for $10. Gorvy agrees, but wants something else: a ride to the bank to deposit a bag full of coins. In the meantime, Bob has convinced Gorvy to install a home security system, saying it will save him money on his insurance premiums. Mickey is furious, and when Mickey and Gorvy return from the bank to find Randy (Billy Crudup), the home security system technician, finishing up the work, the situation heats up, so much so that Randy, in a sudden rage, kills Gorvy. Now what is Mickey going to do?
If all of the above sounds a bit complicated, it is. And I left out a couple of other subplots involving hookers, credit cards, cheese curds, and more.
More than anything else, Thin Ice is a very clever film, one where it isn't clear which scenes are important to the storyline and which aren't. (Hint: they're all important.) This fact alone makes it worth seeing. But I think it could have been a much more clever film had the character of Mickey Prohaska been portrayed as being smarter. Once Gorvy is dead, the film loses its way a bit as Mickey simply stumbles from one bad situation to a worse one. He doesn't even try to come up with a plan to make things right; rather, he simply nods his head any time someone else has a suggestion as to what to do next and then follows along. From the screenwriters' perspective, this is intentional, but I think it might have been better had it been structured such that Mickey comes up with the idea for the next step, even if someone else plants that idea in his head.
Don't get me wrong, I very much enjoyed Thin Ice, but I think there was a missed opportunity here to turn this very good film into a much better one.