Snowboarding sequences, good; fratboy humor, horrendous.

Out Cold is the new, ahem, snowboarding comedy from Touchstone--which, last time I checked, was part of that squeaky-clean Disney outfit--and a bunch of people you've never heard of. It's roughly as bad as it sounds, but, to be fair, could have been worse.

The film could, for example, have had less snow and even more bathroom humor, or it could have been viciously misogynistic, or it could have been aimed not at a (developmentally delayed) college audience but frankly at high school kids, in which case there might have been even more leering, masturbation and--save us, oh Lord--comic parents.

Fortunately, though, for the reputation of the American entertainment industry and U.S. culture around the globe, the young powder-bums who inhabit the funky little Alaskan ski town in Out Cold are sketchy but likable, the British Columbian scenery's great and the snowboarding sequences--courtesy of a couple dozen amazing athletes and fine camerawork--are thrilling.

And even though buttocks of various shapes, sizes, antiquity, gender and ethnic origin festoon the film like so many tandem whack-a-moles, the filmmakers give us only one close-up of human excrement. That's right. In the whole movie.

This, given the filmmakers' preoccupation with everything bootie-related, is typical of the sort of restraint and hilarity we quickly come to expect from them. Only six or seven scenes, for instance, turn on the jolly fun that is flatulence.

I, for one, would just like to say "Way to go, Malloy brothers and screenwriter Jon Zack, whoever you are. You could have made every single moment of Out Cold sniggeringly pre-adolescent, but you didn't."

Let's see, what else is there to say? Believe me, you do not care about the plot, which involves the scruffy little town's way of life being threatened with latte-ization at the hands of an evil Colorado ski magnate (Lee Majors, whom the years have not treated kindly).

Lo and behold, he turns out to be the father of the very same girl (Caroline Dhavernas) who once broke the throbbing heart of the movie's sensitive snowboarding king (Jason London) during a fling in Cancun, which is why he's now reluctant to get it on with the plucky town sweetheart, Jenny (A.J. Cook), even though all the other guys start pretending to hump each other whenever they catch sight of her.

This old flame's arrival in town is so remarkable a coincidence that it triggers an avalanche of Casablanca references--"Go on. He needs you. And we'll always have Pedro El Horny's." While these attempts at something other than pratfalls and scatological humor undoubtedly amused the filmmakers, the audience I sat among didn't find them funny.

But the sloppy drunk slacker (Zach Galifianakis) waking up to find himself being effectively fellated by a polar bear? That made 'em squeal. As did the same guy's rib-tickling genital mishap with a Jacuzzi drain. (In fact, Galifianakis, like the rest of the competent cast--well, except for Majors--shows obvious comic talent, more or less in spite of the material.)

Oh, rats--only 506 words so far. What else is there to say?

Let's recap. Snowboarding sequences, good. Headbanging soundtrack, Mountain Dew-like but, I assume, current and widely appreciated by the audience. (I was able to recognize "Baby's Got Back" from yesteryear. Given the filmmakers' callipygian predilections, no doubt a sentimental favorite.)

Still undecided? Should you go see this movie? Let me quote a UA student behind me at the sneak preview, who, when the lights came up, said, "It was kind of funny, but if I'd paid $8, I'd be mad."

So that's about it. Except that I've got 200 words to go.

Umm, the critical difference between Out Cold--other than invention, good jokes and talent--and a naughty comedy like Caddyshack that actually achieves the frat-boy sublime, is the difference between showing us the alleged human etc. (mentioned above, and I do apologize) and threatening us with it in the guise of a Baby Ruth bar bobbing in a swimming pool.

One plays hilariously with our fear that the movie we're watching is vile enough to show us the one thing we truly do not need to see on film, and then with our relief and shame for even thinking such a thing.

The other is a movie that vile. And shame on us for watching it.

Out Cold is not showing in any theaters in the area.

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