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"OUT COLD"
(2001) (Jason London, Lee Majors) (PG-13)

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QUICK TAKE:
Comedy: Various employees of a quaint ski resort react to a business developer's arrival and his attempts at revamping the place.
PLOT:
Rick Rambis (JASON LONDON) and his friends, Luke (ZACH GALIFIANAKIS), Anthony (FLEX ALEXANDER) and Pig Pen (DEREK HAMILTON) all work at the Bull Mountain ski resort in Alaska's high country. When not goofing off or drinking in the bar manned by Lance (DAVID DENMAN), the bartender, and frequented by locals such as Stumpy (DAVID KOECHNER), the four work for Ted Muntz (WILLIE GARSON) whose wild father made the place legendary.

Yet, Ted no longer wants to run the place, thus resulting in developer Jack Majors (LEE MAJORS) showing up with his revisionary plans already set to turn the quaint little town into a major resort for affluent tourists. This doesn't sit well with the locals, but they don't seem to mind so much when he offers Rick a managerial job and promises not to fire anyone.

That's great for Rick, but he has other things on his mind including romance. While his and the guys' female friend Jenny (A.J. COOK) is obviously interested in him, Rick is still fixated on Anna (CAROLINE DHAVERNAS), a girl he briefly dated for a few weeks before she suddenly disappeared. When she turns out to be Major's daughter and shows up with her buxom stepsister, Inga (VICTORIA SILVSTEDT), Rick is torn about what to do.

As Majors continues with his business plan, another employee, Eric (THOMAS LENNON), gives the others a hard time, and Anna's paraplegic fiancÚ, Barry (TODD RICHARDS), shows up, Rick must decide what he's going to do concerning his love life and the future of Bull Mountain.

OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10
Cinematic trends come and go, particularly when related to sub entries of certain genres, such as slasher films and spoofs/parodies. One such entry that never overpopulated the cinemas and seemingly has been in hibernation of late is the rowdy, ski resort comedy.

You know, the ones where a bunch of guys either work or play at a ski resort, ogle buxom women - who naturally appear in skimpy attire despite the cold weather - and drink beer all while engaging in various shenanigans when not participating or reacting to the basic elements of the lame, overriding plot.

While they'll never be confused for the work of cold weather documentary filmmaker Warren Miller and all of his snow and ski-related films, such films usually also contain their fair share of decently filmed downhill footage, stunts and action.

The most notable such film was 1984's "Hot Dog...The Movie" with David "An American Werewolf in London" Naughton, while a few minor releases and/or straight to video films such as 1990's "Ski Patrol" and the Oscar winning, box office behemoths "Ski School" and "Ski School II" (sorry, all of the talk of cold is numbing my brain) have come along since then.

Perhaps sensing the void of such cinematic entertainment, writer Jon Zack (making his debut) and the brotherly directing team known as The Malloys (Brendan and Emmett who make their collective feature film debut after helming music videos) have delivered "Out Cold," a film whose title pretty much accurately sums up the film's chances at both artistic and commercial success.

Oh, I suppose there's an audience for this sort of picture, and the filmmakers have made sure to replace the old and boring skiing with the far more in vogue snowboarding. If there's one good thing to be said about the film, it's that it features some good snowboarding footage (with professional snowboarders doing their thing), both of the successful and spectacular wipeout variety.

Of course, and perhaps realizing that they couldn't compete with Miller and his documentaries, the filmmakers decided they should throw a plot, complete with characters, into the mix. Unfortunately, that's where the film wipes out, although perhaps not as spectacularly as some of the crashes within it.

Few will argue that the story - concerning a bunch of guys who decide to attempt to stop a ski resort developer from ruining their playground and place of work - or the characters in it are particularly original and/or well-conceived or executed. We've certainly seen both types in countless other films, both those that are better and worse.

Yet, the film offers just enough marginally amusing moments to prevent its offerings from being as painful or ugly as frostbite. Besides, pictures such as this automatically come with the knowledge that they're not trying to achieve or emulate anything remotely resembling high art, and that's certainly the case here.

Even so, I found myself occasionally chuckling at a few moments, such as a prank where the guys put a drunk and passed out friend behind the wheel and then get others to spin them around in a circle while they scream inside, all to make him think he's driving drunk and out of control. Then there's a flashback scene that includes purposefully fake looking process shots of a young couple surfing, etc. that's either paying homage to or making fun of those cheesy looking rear projection shots from films of yesteryear.

Unfortunately, the inane and/or sophomoric humor far outnumbers the halfway decent bits. To make matters worse, such material pales in comparison to what other outrageous teen-based comedies such as the "American Pie" movies are offering. The result is a film that only the target audience of snow loving teens may possibly enjoy.

As the "normal" protagonist and his stereotypically goofy sidekicks, Jason London ("The Rage: Carrie 2," "To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar"), Zach Galifianakis ("Corky Romano," "Bubble Boy"), Flex Alexander ("She's All That," "The Sixth Man") and Derek Hamilton ("Extreme Days," "Firestorm") have a few moments, but are otherwise instantly forgettable.

A.J. Cook ("The Virgin Suicides") and Caroline Dhavernas ("Lost and Delirious," Heart: The Marilyn Bell Story") show up as the typical female best friend and object of the protagonist's desire respectively (with us knowing, natch, that the former is better for him than the latter) and deliver the standard performances.

Former Playboy playmate Victoria Silvstedt ("BASEketball") shows up as the obligatory buxom bombshell and delivers exactly what's expected of her, while Lee "I Used to Be the Six Million Dollar Man" Majors (TV's "The Fall Guy") plays the necessary villain. Various others try their hand at providing some comedy to the proceedings, but aren't particularly effective.

Lame, sophomoric and pretty much what you'd expect for a film such as this, "Out Cold" is likely to disappear from theaters about on pace with a snowball's chance in you know where. The film rates as a 3 out of 10.




Reviewed November 19, 2001 / Posted November 21, 2001


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