2012, R, 94 min. Directed by Jill Sprecher. Starring Greg Kinnear, Alan Arkin, Billy Crudup, David Harbour, Michelle Arthur, Lea Thompson, Bob Balaban.
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., March 2, 2012
February 2011 brought us the underappreciated comedy about Wisconsin insurance agents: Cedar Rapids. One year later, a Wisconsin insurance agent is once again on our radar in Thin Ice. This time the film is a comic crime story with Greg Kinnear as Mickey Prohaska, a hustling insurance salesman who’s always looking to land a big score and depart Kenosha for warmer climes. He’s the kind of agent who’s always trying to frighten clients into buying more insurance than they need and has a permeable barrier between his personal and business bank accounts.
Mickey stumbles onto a potential windfall in the detritus of an old man’s living room: a collectible violin worth a ton of money. Gorvy (Arkin), the old man, appears to be an easy mark, but every step of the way something else goes wrong. A shady locksmith (Crudup), a violin appraiser (Balaban), Mickey’s sales rep Bob (Harbour) – each man becomes involved and leads Mickey further astray as the number of things he must cover up increases. Good performances give this movie a pleasant shine, but in all honesty, Thin Ice relies on too many familiar setups to feel wholly fresh. The script by Sprecher and her sister Karen Sprecher, lacks novelty but is a solid mechanism, nevertheless. It keeps the narrative train on track and on time, but the destination is somewhere you’ve been dozens of times before.