The Ice Rink (1999) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

The Ice rink is an unchallenging, lightweight French farce about some people making a movie, and some other people filming a documentary about the making of that movie. The whole project is an inoffensive, short (80 minutes) bit of comic froth, with some slapstick and some very gentle satire about the European movie industry. 

The fictional director is making a film about ice hockey, specifically about a major championship being played to a decision. Since there can be no ties, the playoff period is "sudden death", in which the first goal decides the winner. The goalie's girlfriend also dies during that period, shot in the back while running to the goal in her cocktail dress, thus adding a rich layer of meaning to the title "sudden death". 

The fictional project runs into predictable problems, covering ground which already has been tread by better movies like Truffaut's "Day for Night" and David Mamet's "State and Main". Some examples:

  • The crew is on the ice during the filming, therefore in danger from flying pucks, so the hockey players have to play hockey without a puck.

  • They hired the Lithuanian national hockey team (whose appearance is unaccountably accompanied by Hungarian music), and they don't speak French, so every instruction to them requires translation. This can be quite uncomfortable for the translator when the director chooses to lecture them on film theory.

  • The director, the female star, and the male star form a love triangle, with all the predictable results.

  • The heat from the movie lights keeps melting the ice in the rink.

  • The owner of the ice rink is a former figure skating wannabee who insists on telling his war stories whenever they can least afford the time required to listen to them. They have to listen, of course, because his co-operation is essential to the film.

  • The stunt double for the beautiful leading lady is a short, stout, hairy-chested guy.

  • The producer of the film keeps insisting to the European film festivals that the film is not about love or ice hockey, but is a metaphor for the problems of modern day Europe. 


The star, Dolores Chaplin, was seen naked through a keyhole. She was quite far from the camera, and the nudity was from the side. 

DVD info from Amazon.

  • widescreen letterboxed, 1.85:1

  • solid transfer, but no extras

While the film is not a great one that will provoke resounding belly-laughs, neither is it all bad. I enjoyed it as a low-key, refreshing change of pace. 

The Critics Vote

  • no reviews online

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it a respectable 6.3.
  • With their dollars ... box office unknown. Budget: 25 million French francs.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics - or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C. Pretty good but not great comedy, in French, subtitled.

Return to the Movie House home page