Mr Snow, a retired Ski Slope played by loveable cockney rogue Ray Winstone, has put his fast-living past behind him and is living happily in Spain as a simple tree-covered hill with his wife, Gloria the Bobsleigh Track, his friends Alfie and Jeanne, both of whom are Shiny-Polished-Floors-that-people-do-Curling-on. One day, however, his and his friends’ idyllic lives are shattered by the sudden appearance of Flaggy the Really Scary Slalom Run (played by Ben Kingsley, who won ‘Best Supporting Actor’ for his performance, both for being really scary and for moving around deftly while not having any of his flags fall off him) – a really scary slalom run who Mr Snow knows from the old days! Flaggy is very unpleasant indeed, and he’s fixated on the idea that Mr Snow needs to come back and do one final Winter Olympics. But Mr Snow doesn’t want to do another Winter Olympics! He’s put those days behind him!!
What follows is a tense battle of wits in which Mr Snow attempts to evade an increasingly loud and violent Flaggy, who shows no sign of backing down. Things aren’t helped by the fact that Flaggy seems to be attracted to Gloria the Bobsleigh Track, and that he’s already told his evil paymaster, the despotic antiques dealer who runs Coldcoldopia, the fictitious very very cold country in which the Winter Olympics are to be held (Ian McShane), that he’ll be able to get Mr Snow to come back and be competitively skied on. Along the way there are a great many very cool scenes (in every sense of the word!), including a famous bit where Flaggy weirdly talks aggressively to himself while snowploughing his face, and an amusing sequence in which he has a fight with a man on an aeroplane.
The film reaches its climax when Mr Snow, enraged at the sight of Flaggy maliciously beating up the Jamaican Bobsleigh Team (who live on Gloria), does a big avalanche at him, killing him on the spot, and then has to go through with the Winter Olympics after all in order to hide the murder. Athlete after athlete skis down him, but, coniferous trees trembling, Mr Snow somehow manages to hold his nerve! The Olympics are a great success, but the Slalom event has to be cancelled because where the Slalom track ought to be there’s just a massive gap in the world. The vulgar closing ceremony reiterates to Mr Snow how much he’s moved on from this world, and he looks forward to returning to his quiet life in Spain. But will the wheeling-dealing emperor of Coldcoldopia buy his story that Flaggy the Really Scary Slalom Run just disappeared?
CLASSIC LINES FROM THE FILM
“Retired? You’re revolting. Look at yourslope. It’s like sleet. I could make a slush puppy out of you.”
“Not this time. Not this fucking time. Snow. Snow snow snow snow snow! Snow snow snow snow snow snow snow! Snow snow SNOW SNOW SNOW SNOW!”
“If I cared, Mr Snow. If I gave one solitary fuck about the slalom event. Get out of my fucking closing ceremony.”
– The director insisted on filming on location, which meant that several actual mountains had to be broken up and transported from Switzerland to Spain. In the process, a secret jewelled tunnel to the centre of the Earth was discovered, but budget constraints meant that exploring it was impossible.
– Conversely, several of the Winter Olympics scenes are just stock footage of the Summer Olympics with snow watercoloured on in post-production.
– Filming had to be stopped for several days while Ray Winstone and Ben Kingsley had a massive snowman-building contest. It was declared a draw, much to the dissatisfaction of everyone.
– To prepare for filming, several of the actors allowed themselves to be skied on under controlled conditions in London for a number of weeks.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
“Lock Stock meets that scene in Star Wars with the Wompa. Very good stuff.”
Screen Reviews Quarterly
“The cockney accents really work. I think all geographical formations should be from the London area.”
Film Critic Magazine
“Brrrrrr! And by ‘Brrrrr’, I mean ‘Brrrrrliant!’. And by ‘Brrrrrliant’, I mean ‘Brilliant’.”
WRITTEN BY WILL SEAWARD