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March 9, 2012


Capsule Movie Review – Thin Ice (2012)


SPOILER WARNING It’s impossible to explain why Thin Ice is a bad movie without revealing the ending. Fair warning. END SPOILER WARNING

Jill and Karen Sprecher’s Thin Ice starts off as a black comedy about an insurance salesman (Greg Kinnear) who sees easy money in stealing an antique violin from an old man (Alan Arkin) living in an isolated farmhouse. The tone turns serious when a nosy neighbor and a homicidal locksmith (Billy Crudup) enter the picture. Then with five minutes to go, everything we’ve seen is revealed in “what really happened” voiceover narration as an elaborate insurance scam with the salesman in the part of patsy. To give it its due, the big reveal takes the edge off one of the film’s main weaknesses. Of all the characters of any significance, only the salesman, his estranged wife, and (arguably) his secretary are at all believable; but then, turns out the rest of them are in on the con. Unfortunately the cure proves worse than the disease. The plot of Thin Ice is riddled with holes from start to finish. When it was a neo-noir/black comedy- in a word, Coenesque- the film’s weak plotting could be overlooked for the sake of the good parts; namely, talented actors making the most of colorful characters and the unusual wintry Wisconsin locale. A con game movie on the other hand lives or dies by its plot. When the con on the character doesn’t hold water, the con on the audience is nothing but a cheap trick.

1 star

One thing I liked and one thing I didn’t like: Kinnear was great in the falling apart part of the story. It’s not the biggest plot hole but it really bugged me that he didn’t report his credit cards stolen.

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Miriam
    Mar 9 2012

    What really got me was the violin shop – with all those valuable instruments – in a crummy Chicago neighborhood had no security system. I thought, like you, that it was a trying too hard effort to be Coenesque, and it wasn’t working for me. The con twist and voice-over explanation were terrible. I’m sure Kinnear’s salesman (the only really good element in the film other than the landscape) was a ripe target for a con but the one presented was as full of holes as a Wisconsin cheese.

    I wouldn’t be so disgruntled if I hadn’t really liked and admired the previous collaboration between the Sprechesr and Arkin, Thirteen Conversations About One Thing (2001).

  2. Mar 10 2012

    That’s a very good (or should I say bad?) example. It beggars belief that an insurance salesman whose main sales shtick is coming up with worst case scenarios for every situation and circumstance wouldn’t even notice it, let alone not have his suspicions raised.

    “Thirteen Conversations” is the reason I went to see this. Very disappointing follow-up, especially considering the 10 year feature film gap.

  3. Mar 11 2012

    I haven’t watched “Thin Ice”, nor have I heard of it until now, but “Thirteen Conversations About One Thing” is a great film. :O)