Back in 1998 I saw a small film that haunted me for quite a long time. That film was A Simple Plan starring Bill Paxton, Bridget Fonda and Billy Bob Thornton. It stuck with me not only because of its compelling story but also its incredible never-relenting atmosphere. It oozed cold and calculating but with an impending dose of reality that reminded everyone that perfect plans are things of light-hearted thrillers out of Hollywood (and not, in this case, smaller more gritty films).
Thin Ice hinted that it just might be that type of film. It stars Greg Kinnear as Mickey Prohaska, a small town insurance salesman who clearly has long since passed his prime and is now existing primarily on the fumes of his past. Then, one day at an insurance convention, things seem to give him back that old spark when he’s befriended by a somewhat dim, but nice enough, trainee. When his arch-nemesis in the industry offers the trainee a job Mickey lies through his teeth to steal the trainee away.
The trainee then tells Mickey about his first big potential client and Mickey decides to go with him to show him the ropes. The client is an old man named Gorvy who seems only partially still aware of his surroundings played wonderfully by Alan Arkin. Gorvy doesn’t really need insurance but that doesn’t stop Kinnear especially when he stumbles upon the information that among Gorvy’s endless array of junk is a renowned violin worth a small fortune that Gorvy picks unknowingly for his pet dog. Mickey decides this is one sheep worth a full sheer.
It’s at this point that we meet the security system installer—yet another nutcase—played by Billy Crudup. As the story progresses Mickey quickly gets in well over his head and to say more would be in bad taste to expose any more of the plot.
There are also two solid performances by Bob Balaban and, quite to my surprise, Lea Thompson whom I haven’t seen in anything in years.
On the whole this is one very quirky but oddly campy film experience. It’s bland in several areas and sadly I found it highly predictable. However, the two other people I saw it with didn’t find it anywhere near as predictable so perhaps I just got lucky. Roger Ebert went so far as to call it “devilishly ingenious” which I think is a bit overstating it. It’s a pretty forgettable film but strangely manages to be so while also not being a bad experience.