Per Insider, Dave Franco is set to play Vanilla Ice in an upcoming biopic currently titled To The Extreme, which all sounds ... sure. They're making biopics about everybody at this point, so why not profile Vanilla Ice? This is a guy who said, about receiving community service for his recent burglary arrest, "This is an easy thing. It's like asking the Pope to pray." Surely there are more brilliant morsels of wisdom buried within Ice's life like this that would make for fantastic cinema, and I have no problem dropping five bucks for parking on a free movie Tuesday to see them.
But if I were Ice, then I'd be worried. Dave Franco is expecting To The Extreme to be modeled after The Disaster Artist, the film his brother James Franco directed which tells the story of possibly the worst director of all-time, Tommy Wiseau, and how he succeeded (sort of) despite himself in creating a cult classic film.
The implication is obviously that Dave thinks Vanilla Ice is the Tommy Wiseau of rap, and in many ways, it is an apt comparison. Vanilla Ice is a dorky, white guy whose work is enjoyed with a wink and a nod.
Ice isn't lyrically proficient or rhythmically talented. He is not your prototypical rapper and that he embraces the irony of his success, much like Wiseau does, is maybe part of his charm. Said Dave Franco about the Disaster Artist and his vision for To The Extreme:
"With that movie, people expected us to make a broad comedy where we make fun of Tommy Wiseau, but the more real we played it, the funnier and heartfelt it was ... that's the tone we want for this one as well."
But again, this bodes poorly for Ice because the thing Dave Franco isn't acknowledging is that they did make a broad comedy making fun of Tommy Wiseau. They might have wanted to make something deeper, but The Disaster Artist never really got there. As the AV Club writes in their review:
"Franco's Tommy Wiseau is an oblivious creature who bangs out the script to his mystifying tour de force in a furiously hokey typewriter montage; without any internal conflicts, motivations, or backstory to speak of."
"The idea that The Room's strange and bitter qualities are very personal and rooted in some deep pain is obvious to anyone who's seen the film except, it seems, to the star and director of this movie."
I think they're right. James Franco does a great job laying out all of Wiseau's bizarre mannerisms and tyrannical directing style. Still, he never provides a suitable explanation for any of it, leaving the audience to draw the only possible conclusion of, "This Tommy Wiseau guy sure is an imbecile." Maybe Franco wasn't able to find an explanation for Tommy's insanity, which fair enough, you can only work with what you're given. But then realize that you're not actually providing any sort of heartfelt insight. You're just making The Waterboy, but using a real person to do it.
I'm sure that Dave Franco will nail every instance of Ice's awkwardness. He will be perfectly pathetic as Suge Knight holds him over a balcony. He will say "word to your mother" and do the ninja dance without revealing a hint of shame. All of that will be fine enough, and we can point and laugh about how weird it is that Vanilla Ice is a thing. But, if Vanilla Ice expects this story to provide any sort of humanity to his character or portray him as anything more than a caricature or explore the why Robert Van Winkle became Vanilla Ice, then he might want to "stop, collaborate, and listen" to someone else's pitch.
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Top Image: A24, Universal Music Group