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Mickey Prohaska (Greg Kinnear) is an insurance salesman in frozen, wintry Wisconsin. His career has hit the skids, he's struggling to make ends meet, and his divorce from his wife Jo Ann (Lea Thompson) has shaken his confidence. Dangerously at the end of his rope, Mickey learns that an elderly client, Gorvy (Alan Arkin), has a valuable violin in his possession. Mickey begins hatching a scheme to get the violin away from Gorvy and into the hands of violin dealer Leonard Dahl (Bob Balaban), but his plan gets more complicated at every turn and eventually goes from difficult to dangerous.

Review by Louise Keller:
In the vein of Fargo and A Simple Plan, Thin Ice is a delicious black crime comedy that melts before our eyes - just like the frozen lake that harbours a nasty surprise. Originally released under the title The Convincer, the key to Jill Sprecher's nicely conceived and executed film (co-written with her sister Karen Sprecher) is its characters, beautifully articulated by a top line cast. While Greg Kinnear is perfect as the clean-cut protagonist, an insurance salesman whose sales spiel flows like wine, the big surprise is Billy Crudup, the one-screw loose security guy with a violent aversion to the word COPS.

The film begins by firmly establishing salesman Mickey Prohaska's (Kinnear) credentials as he attends an insurance convention at an idyllic tropical location. But it seems that he is trumped in the convincing stakes by an over-intoxicated blonde, whose visit to his hotel room results in a stolen wallet and a headache. The action then heads for home in snowy Wisconsin, where Mickey continues his spiel in his never-ending bid for new clients. Alan Arkin shines as the grumpy, eccentric heavily accented Gorvy Hauer, who until convinced otherwise (when he buys a contents insurance policy), believes he has nothing of value other than his dog. The springboard for the signpost screaming big dollars is the violin from Gorvy's sister's estate, which awaits assessment.

Bob Balaban is as straight as an arrow as the conservative violin dealer whose assessment of the worth of the instrument puts Mickey into a frenzy. Poor Mickey is in a financial pickle and trying desperately to get in the black. Crudup plays his role deadpan and his ability to go from bland to psychotic is very funny. All of sudden, Mickey is an accomplice and a series of events ensures involving a bottle of booze and chainsaw and a frozen lake that is about to melt.

The white Wisconsin landscape is gorgeous and Kinnear ably leads us through the various set ups convincingly. There are many lovely scenes, like the one in which Mickey is haggling about money with his ex-wife - in church, just as the collection plate goes past. The sleight of hand is well executed and while there is much to digest in the final sequences, Thin Ice goes a long way to take the chill off a winter's night.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Although it may bring to mind wintry crime thriller Fargo (1996) and Latino crime thriller Nine Queens (2000), Thin Ice is an original crime thriller/black comedy. The smooth and deceptively complex screenplay is beautifully handled by director Jill Sprecher, who co-wrote it with her sister Karen. But if it wasn't cast so well, it may have been less effective.

Greg Kinnear leads the ensemble cast as the insurance salesman with ever decreasing sales and ever increasing domestic problems. From bad choices to bad luck, he is suffering the fate of that old saying, as one door shuts another slams in your face. Kinnear can handle the range from cocky to cocked up with consummate ease.

Billy Crudup is stupendous as the blackly funny locksmith, Randy, who is as much the engine of the story as Kinnear's Mickey. Bob Balaban makes a dryly welcome appearance as Leonard Dahl, the man who knows his violins, and Alan Arkin steals the show as befuddled old farmer Gorvy whose deceased sister has left him a violin that could be worth a fortune.

The characters are endearingly flawed, the set-up is mischievously appealing and the story is endlessly surprising. The humour is black, the resolution audacious. You mustn't know too much about the plot; it is delicious but has to be taken by the mouthful as you go.

The first act is a tad slow and meandering, but the pace and the laughs pick up and gather momentum until we are chortling and laughing at the bizarreness and the daring.

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(US, 2011)

CAST: Greg Kinnear, Alan Arkin, Lea Thompson, Bob Balaban, Billy Crudup, David Harbour

PRODUCER: Mary Frances Budig, Elizabeth Redleaf, Christine K. Walker

DIRECTOR: Jill Sprecher

SCRIPT: Jill Sprecher, Karen Sprecher


EDITOR: Lee Percy

MUSIC: Jeff Dana


RUNNING TIME: 89 minutes



DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Universal Sony Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: July 4, 2013

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