Movie review: The Ice Cream Truck

The Ice Cream Truck

What is it about the suburbs? That one line sums up the entire tone of The Ice Cream Truck.

Mary (Deanna Russo) has just moved back to surburbia, USA from Seattle (woot!). Her husband and kids are set to come along shortly, as soon as her elder son finishes out his school year. While she waits, she must traverse through a labyrinth of nosy neighbors, creepy delivery men (played by regular Rob Zombie collaborator Jeff Daniel Phillips), sexually ambitious teenagers, and one evil ice cream man.

Mary befriends Max (John Redlinger), a recent high school graduate (Redlinger is 27, btw) who she smokes weed with and tries her best not to fuck. He’s the least creepy of the townsfolk, which include Mary’s neighbor Jessica (Hillary Barraford), who is always elbow deep in Mary’s business, Max’s holier-than-thou mom Christina (Lisa Ann Walter), and the creepiest of all, the ice cream man (Emil Johnsen). This sinister dessert-slinger is ripped straight out of the 50s, with a starched white apron and black bow tie, driving along in what appears to be an old milk truck set to the tune of “Do Your Ears Hang Low?” He only serves cones and cups and, oh yeah, he kills people indiscriminately. Oddly, no one seems to notice or at least give a shit. Characters are offed and then never mentioned again.

The interactions between everyone in this movie just feel… off. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is, but the movie almost feels like it moves in slow motion. The conversations are just a little too personal for people who have just met, and Mary is constantly probed and prodded about every aspect of her life. No one seems to trust anyone. I grew up in a small town but have spent most of my adult life in larger cities. Is this how people in the suburbs act? It’s all a little Stepford Wives meets Smallville. It does give the movie an aura of mystery, like there is more going on than just one killer confectioner.

The Ice Cream Truck first came across my radar several months ago but I didn’t really keep an eye on it and wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Obviously the first thought to come to mind was a crazy schlock-fest like 1995’s Ice Cream Man. I kept expecting something cheesy to pop up like an eye ball in the rum raisin, complete with the requisite “eye scream” pun. However, this one is played straight and is almost more reminiscent of the Tom Hanks classic The ‘Burbs.

It also feels a lot like a coming-of-age movie, except that age is mid-30s and not early adulthood. Mary, despite being married and having two kids, seems to struggle with being a grown-up. With said husband and kids not around, she’d rather smoke pot with the kids than join the adults at the party and struggles to keep her libido in check when the teenage Max comes around. The ice cream man, and his titular truck, are only part of a larger story.

Overall, The Ice Cream Truck isn’t a bad movie, but it feels a little lacking. The acting is good and, at 85 minutes without credits, there’s not a lot of lag time.  However, the end seems to create more questions than it answers, despite there being plenty already. It’s worth a watch if you don’t have to go out of your way. Look for it in theaters or on VOD on August 18th.

Rating: 5/10

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