Out Cold (2001) — The slacker snowboarding movie you need to see

“No regrets, that’s my motto. Well… that and everyone Wang Chung tonight.”

Justin’s rating: I’m king of the bunny slope!

Justin’s review: A lot of times we, as movie critics, approach the lesser-known titles with an attitude akin to a blind date. Nervously, we dress in our finest attire (bathrobes, bunny slippers), spray on enough cologne to burn the top layer of skin clean off, and practice our “I’m listening to your fascinating story” faces for the dinner table. Then the dance of seduction begins. It’s a wooing on the behalf of the filmmakers, a game of footsie under the table as they try to hook us with their ingenuity and bestial charm. But like so many blind dates, there’s more than an equal chance to peer across the table and see a cavity-strewn mouth and visible armpit stains as it is to see a complete hottie.

It’s the risks we take with this profession, and often it leaves us feeling dirty and cold in the morning.

Out Cold had to work pretty hard to seduce me, because its charms weren’t quite apparent out of the gate. During the first half-hour or so, it felt like a mildly amusing comedy about a snowboarding resort helmed by a crew of watered-down weirdos, but nothing special. Yet slowly, as the movie and I conversed over a dessert of exponential laughs and clever craziness, I felt that familiar burning deep within. Curse that ulcer! It just so happens that this is a pretty funny movie that had me really appreciating it for its “inner beauty” by the end credits. And thus ends the metaphor.

The stage of our play is set on Bull Mountain, Alaska, where bearded men and extreme snowboarders roam wild. It’s a quaint, local resort with a forgettable history involving some guy who skied down the mountain with his derrière hanging out. Apparently, this was inspiring enough to make a statue commemorating the event.

Rick (Jason London, twin brother of Mallrats’ Jeremy London) is the Responsible Snowboarder, who has to make a tough decision between his slacker lifestyle and selling out to The Man (Lee Majors) who buys the mountain to make it into a more upscale resort. His friends see the threat quicker than he does, but all are powerless to do much about it.

Out Cold’s primary failing as a movie (this being the debut of the directors, I can see how it happened) is that the plot and characters are a bit too subtle and gradual for the typical audience. This isn’t a horrible thing, but it shouldn’t take me until a third of the way in to finally get who each character is, and what their “thing” is all about. The threat of the resort takeover shouldn’t take most of the film to finally flourish, providing little time for our heroes to really become anti-authority fighters. The filmmakers are obviously just as laid back about their movie as the characters in it, and while this isn’t strictly a “wrong” way to do things, it’s probably not the best. By the end, I wanted to watch the film again, now that I was into the groove and aware of all of the characters’ quirks.

This criticism aside, Out Cold cradles some wonderfully snarky comedy that is just as out of left field as everything else. Strange little inclusions, like a slow-motion shot of a character shooting out boogers from their nose in the cold at an inspirational moment toward the end, is what kept shocking me into laughter. Luke (Zach Galifianakis) is one of the best bearded characters in film history — this lovable Silent Bob-ish drunk kept throwing in witty, mellow lines and having his friends play pranks on him when he passed out that slowly but surely made him the best person in this flick.

Out Cold was also a very kind-hearted comedy, lacking the mean-spiritedness that some comedy filmmakers seem to have against either their characters or the audience watching. I appreciated that. So cheers to this movie, to a good comedy that needs a home in many of your viewing collections! And, for the record, watching people do incredible snowboarding stunts is far more entertaining than trying to snowboard and falling on your rear fourteen times in a row.

Didja notice?

  • Alaska has mountain cleavage
  • Aah! Huge hairy man pits!
  • King of the Mountain sounds fun
  • Even the paperboy snowboards
  • Girls in bikini’s in cable cars… what?
  • Things Not To Do With Your Hot Tub
  • Anna wears an OSI wind-cheater as a nod to the Six Million Dollar Man.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s