Starring: Greg Kinnear, Billy Crudup, Alan Arkin, David Harbour
We meet Mickey Prohaska (Greg Kinnear) at an insurance convention where he lectures on how to strike up conversations (asking people if the have the time.) While at the convention, Mickey meets a woman who cons him out of his wallet, stealing nearly $20,000 in credit cards. Also while at the convention, he meets a fellow insurance agent named Bob Egan (David Harbour.) Mickey hires Bob to come work for him back in Kenosha, Wisconsin. We are then introduced to an old farmer named Gorvy Hauer. Gorvy purchases an insurance policy from Mickey and Bob. When Mickey learns that Gorvy posses an antique violin that could be worth millions, the plot thickens as Mickey tries to steal the violin. A locksmith named Randy (Billy Crudup) is called to Gorvy's home, where he learns that Mickey is trying to steal the violin. Mickey becomes Randy's unwilling partner in crime when Randy blackmails him.
When I first heard of this movie, I couldn't wait to see it for many reasons. First, the plot of the story was enough to capture my attention: murder, deception, blackmail...everything I love in a suspense/thriller movie. Plus, the story takes place in the state of Wisconsin, AKA "Cheesland", a place I hold very near and dear to my heart. Unfortunately, this film fell short of what it was trying to deliver, which was basically a rip off of the Coen Brothers memorable film, Fargo (1996.) While the film isn't completely awful, and it does have its funny/quirky moments, the narrative is much too predictable and does not engage the audience. Greg Kinnear is convincing enough as the spineless insurance salesman; but he also wants to be a nice guy, and his character is conflicted. Kinnear's character of Mickey has a conscience, unlike William H. Macy's character of Jerry Lundegaard in Fargo, who was a heartless coward. There was no mistaking Jerry Lundegaard for being a spineless snake. But in this film, I was unsure if Mickey was really a nice guy or a slimy coward. The explanation of the plot at the end of the film provides little consolation to a narrative that wasn't really coherent in the first place. Thin Ice is quite a befitting name for this film, because that is pretty much where it stands...ready to fall through.