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Thin Ice (2011)

The Convincer (original title)
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A dishonest insurance salesman's life quickly disintegrates during a Wisconsin winter when he teams up with a psychopath to steal a rare violin at the home of a reclusive farmer.

Director:

Jill Sprecher

Writers:

Jill Sprecher (as Jill A. Sprecher), Karen Sprecher (as Karen L. Sprecher)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Greg Kinnear ... Mickey Prohaska
John Paul Gamoke ... Man at Coffee Shop
David Harbour ... Bob Egan
Jennifer Edwards-Hughes Jennifer Edwards-Hughes ... Sherri (as Jennifer M. Edwards)
Scott Crouch ... Casino Emcee
Peter Moore ... Phil Peters
Michelle Hutchison ... Judy Vandenhoevel
James Michael Detmar ... Glen Vandenhoevel (as James Detmar)
Michael Paul Levin ... Chuck Stankel
Kathryn Lawrey Kathryn Lawrey ... Hotel Clerk
Joe Minjares Joe Minjares ... Hotel Manager
Michelle Arthur ... Karla Gruenke
Peter Thoemke ... Frank Richie
Alan Arkin ... Gorvy Hauer
Lea Thompson ... Jo Ann Prohaska
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Storyline

A dishonest insurance salesman's life quickly disintegrates during a Wisconsin winter when he teams up with a psychopath to steal a rare violin at the home of a reclusive farmer.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Greetings from Kenosha, WI! Where ordinary folks can make a killing. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, and brief violent and sexual content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 January 2011 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Convincer See more »

Filming Locations:

Stillwater, Minnesota, USA See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$183,527, 19 February 2012, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$789,752, 20 May 2012
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The violin shop featured in the film, Dahl Violins, is an actual violin shop in downtown Minneapolis. In the film, the shop is supposed to be located in Chicago. However, when Mickey and Randy break into the shop at night, the skyline which is prominently featured in the scene's initial shot is obviously Minneapolis, not Chicago. See more »

Alternate Versions

The film premiered out of competition at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival under its original title "The Convincer"; that version was edited by Stephen Mirrione and featured an original score by Alex Wurman and Bela Fleck. It was subsequently reedited by Lee Percy and re-scored by Jeff Danna. The new version has been retitled Thin Ice (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Snowbird
Written by Gene MacLellan
Performed by Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem (sic)
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
The kind of film you feel bad to complain about
14 July 2013 | by StevePulaskiSee all my reviews

Even if I disliked Thin Ice, I'd still have major sympathy for co-writer/director Jill Sprecher, who seemed to have went through hell and high water just to get this film a release. Thin Ice was originally released to Sundance under the name "The Convincer," in a one-hundred and fourteen minute cut that received strong reception from audiences and critics. However, the studio that purchased the film insisted that the score be redundant, the editing reworked, and the pace of the film increased, making the picture ninety-three minutes instead of one-hundred and fourteen. Sprecher, obviously embarrassed and frustrated, has basically given up on Thin Ice and likely looks at it as a sore spot on her career.

That note alone should make one hesitate before publishing something negative about the film. It makes me consider my position as an online film critic deeper, too. Here I am, a viewer of many movies a year (last year almost five-hundred) by choice, and I don't always take into account the effort it takes to make a picture and the stress that numerous people likely go under. Thin Ice is a perfect example of a film I hesitate to review because I feel as if I have not seen the real thing. The ninety-three minute cut has received mixed reception, contrary to the original films near-acclaim.

Regardless, I find Thin Ice - in and of itself - a solid crime caper. The story centers around Mickey Prohaska (Greg Kinnear), a third rate insurance salesman in a dire financial predicament, looking to invest in something that will increase his reliability, win back his wife, and get him out of the frigid, merciless conditions the Wisconsin cold has brought him. He teams up with another man to try and sell Gorvy Hauer (Alan Arkin), an elderly, senile farmer, insurance despite knowing the man doesn't have much money at all. When Mickey discovers he has an expensive-looking violin, he has it appraised only to realize it is slightly rare and valued at $25,000.

This seems all well and good until Randy Kinney (Billy Crudup), a local con-man with an unstable temper, discovers Mickey's plans and, in the process, kills one of Gorvy's neighbors. Now, in an effort to save his own skin, Mickey must work with Randy to cover up the murder, while trying to turn a profit from Gorvy, and sneakily sell his violin for what soon becomes an unruly amount of money.

One film that will cross nearly every mind that watches this film is Fargo, the Coen brothers classic. The entire picture seems like a spin off of the film, from the similar plotpoints to the locational weather to the darkly funny direction the film takes. Despite this, Sprecher and her sister Karen do a bold job of making this film stand on its own, simply because of the way events are piled on each other in a rapid-fire order and how the twist is tacked on at the end.

The acting, however, is the film's strongest feature, with Kinnear, Crudup, and Arkin being on top of their game in terms of convincing performances. Kinnear is a great everyman, but he has a way about playing a man who has a bigger, brasher internal view of himself in contrast to the way he actually appears. This kind of character's mannerisms are seen in the wonderful Little Miss Sunshine, where he played a father hellbent on selling success advice in a cheap twelve-step book. Here, he plays a deadbeat husband hellbent on selling insurance in a cheaply wrapped package and achieves the same level of success.

Meanwhile, Crudup's character is a tricky one to pull off. He is a character that requires the actor playing him to go from collective to explosive in a matter of seconds akin to a time-bomb. This works tremendously in contrast to Kinnear's "gotta keep everything subtle and cool" persona. Finally, it should come as no surprise Arkin is great here, but the role is made more special because it shows Arkin as something he rarely is - gullible.

Ultimately, there are issues in Thin Ice that need to be addressed. The pacing is a bit too fast and the opening is a tad sluggish when it should look to grab our attention. However, these are issues that I am almost certain wouldn't exist if the original cut had been released like it should've been. The product we are left with is pretty solid and an easy thing to recommend, but the entire thing almost feels like a cliffhanger that has no writer to complete it.

Starring: Greg Kinnear, Billy Crudup, and Alan Arkin. Directed by: Jill Sprecher.


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