An updated version of "Hot Dog: The Movie" and "Ski Patrol" that replaces snowboarding with skiing, "Out Cold" unloads a bevy of stock characters with an unoriginal plot for a good-natured comedy that is not only unexpectedly enjoyable, but also kind of sweet.
Set in the snowy, mountainous snowboarding town of Bull Mountain, Alaska, good-guy Rick (Jason London) and his goofball buddies Pig Pen (Derek Hamilton), Luke (Zach Galafianakis), and Anthony (Flex Alexander) are having the time of their lives working at the little-known, no-rules resort. Distress comes in the form of John Majors (Lee Majors--get it?), a wealthy land entrepreneur who plans to buy out Bull Mountain and turn it into a mainstream vacation attraction. Along the way of their pursuit to stop Majors from ruining their home, Rick finds himself with girl troubles--namely good friend Jenny (A.J. Cook) and ex-girlfriend Anna (Caroline Dhavernas), who has just arrived in town.
Directed by brothers Brendan and Emmett Malloy, "Out Cold" offers up beautiful scenery of British Columbia (filling in for Alaska); enough raunchy, just-barely PG-13 humor to satisfy gross-out comedy buffs; and some fairly smart writing by Jon Zack that gives the film its soft side. The snowboarding scenes, while too few and far between, also aren't half-bad.
Without characters to like, "Out Cold" could have easily been a very tedious hour-and-a-half, but there is a believable sense of friendship that makes them really seem like longtime pals. They all have their individual quirks that make them endearing. Pig Pen, for example, dreams of being surrounded by hot, busty snow bunnies every second of the day; Luke is a hornball who, at one point, finds himself in a compromising sexual situation with the water jets of a jacuzzi; and the local bartender (David Denman) endlessly talks about women with the sort of double entendres that make him an obvious repressed homosexual. A very Ashton Kutcher-esque Derek Hamilton, as Pig Pen, and Zach Galafianakis, as Luke, are comic delights.
The nicely written, understated romantic triangle between Rick, Jenny, and Anna also raises the level of the pic. A.J. Cook (2000's "The Virgin Suicides
") is unaffected and charming, and her Jenny isn't as by-the-numbers as one would initially think. She is loyal to Nick because she likes him, but is too strong of a person to let his feelings for Anna get her down. As Anna, Caroline Dhavernas is a smashing, dark-haired find whose character could have been written as mean-spirited and dense, but turns out to possibly be the most virtuous of them all. Rounding out the femme support, blonde Playboy Playmate Victoria Silvstedt, as Anna's sister Inga, is easy on the eyes, but definitely not made to be an actress (aside from pornos).
"Out Cold" loses some steam toward the end as the guys' plans to thwart John Majors takes effect, because it is so formulaic and predictable. The rest is also formulaic and predictable, too, but the characters' nuances have an energy to them that makes it feel somewhat fresh. Whether you are an audience member that will like the film comes down to this simple test: If you cackled and had a good time at "American Pie
" and "Road Trip
," then "Out Cold" is the movie for you. If you didn't care much for them, then stay as far away as the theater showing "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
©2001 by Dustin Putman