Where are Frankie and Annette when you need them? Out Cold, the new “comedy” from Touchstone, is like nothing so much as a beach party picture with snow substituting for surf and smarm standing in for charm. Granted, the beach party movies were never anything to get excited about. They seemed out of touch and dated even when they were new — like the work of a bunch of very unhip middle-aged movie executives trying to make something they thought kids wanted to see. But if that was a case of “old folks makin’ rhythm,” Out Cold is a case of untalented folks making pointless trash. And the funny thing — funnier than anything in the movie — is that these boys are just as out of touch as their beach party predecessors. Nestled within the standard issue gross-out jokes — not a one of which you haven’t seen in some other movie — is a running “gag” interpolating paraphrased dialogue and situations from Casablanca. Surprise of surprises, not one of these references registered with the predominately 14-to-18-year-old crowd I saw the movie with. I’m still trying to figure out at whom they thought they were aiming this material — not that the rest of the material fared all that much better. Oh, alright, so the bowel-movement-in-a-cup scored big laughs for reasons I don’t care to fathom (which may just prove that I am now unhip and middle-aged). The plot is nothing more than an excuse for a lot of stunt doubles snowboarding across Alaskan scenery in between bouts of heavy drinking and limp adolescent humor. The concept is Beach Party 101: Greedy ski-resort developer John Major (Lee Majors — yes, Lee Majors) is about to buy Bull Mountain and turn it into a posh resort, thereby destroying our heroes’ “idyllic” life of being 20-something perpetual adolescent snowboarding drunks. It’s the old preserve-our-way-of-life premise. The problem is that it’s pretty hard to find much about this way of life worth preserving — unless you find the concept of people getting blasted out of their minds and then engaging in dangerous activities and/or passing out in the snow an admirable thing. That’s pretty much what this movie comes down to — perhaps to be expected in a film in which the hero invariably looks for the answer to his problem of the moment at the bottom of a bottle of Wild Turkey. These considerations to one side, Out Cold is just plain bad. The direction by newcomer Farrelly Brothers wanna-bes, the Malloy Brothers, is flat and uninteresting. The screenplay by newcomer Jon Zack is a ragbag of cliched characters (the cute leading man, his none-too-bright best friend with a penchant for having unpleasant things happen to a certain part of his anatomy, his even-less-bright other friend, his token black guy buddy, etc.), jokes pilfered from other movies, and ideas that lead nowhere. Go rent How to Stuff a Wild Bikini instead. At least it actually has Frankie and Annette — along with Buster Keaton, Brian Donlevy, Mickey Rooney and some halfway decent musical numbers. It’s a much better value, which should tell you all you need to know.
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