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Thin Ice (9/10)

by Tony Medley

Run time 94 minutes.

OK for children.

 Greg Kinnear gives a sparkling performance as a devious insurance salesman, aided by equally wonderful performances by Billy Crudup and Alan Arkin.

Directed and written (with her sister, Karen Sprecher) by Jill Sprecher, this is a black comedy of the highest order. All three of the principals give award quality performances. Included in the cast is Bob Balaban, a character actor who generally adds more to a film than one would expect from his generally relatively minor characters. He is as good in this film as he always is.

This script is finely honed as Kinnear stumbles his way from one disaster to another, always making everything worse. His character, Mickey Prohaska, is such a sleazebag that I found myself actually rooting for him to get into constantly deeper trouble.

This is a fine, entertaining dark comedy that is so well written and directed that one never anticipates what is going to happen next, except that it's probably not going to turn out too well for Mickey.

Although Alan Arkin has given many fine performances in his career, I always think of him as the well meaning submarine captain in Carl Reiner's The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming (1966). Here he plays a kind of doddering old man, and he does it beautifully.

The other performance that stands out, and it could be the best performance in the movie, is the one by Crudup as a volatile, violent security system installer. Even though the movie is terrific throughout, it really picks up whenever Crudup is on-screen. His erratic, tumultuous outbursts are rollicking good fun.

This movie is so good, and so full of twists, that's much better if you know nothing about the plot and if you see it straight out of the box, so to speak, as did I.