A warm short that’s been working its way through the festival circuit for the last couple of years, writer-director Dylan Rush’s “The Ice Cream Man” achieves its simple goal with wit and charm. Russian immigrant Grisha (David Alan Graf) takes a job driving an ice cream truck in Venice, California, despite speaking virtually no English. He’s quickly welcomed to the neighborhood by a young black man named Malik (Stefan Umstead), and of course the children living along Grisha’s route, most of them African-American, dig his wares no matter who’s behind the wheel of the vehicle spewing tinkly music. This pleasant state of affairs is disrupted when Korean immigrant Myung-Hee (Lucy Kawai) arrives with her own ice cream truck seeking a piece of the action. Rush seems largely concerned with expressing a sweet idea of universality, and he gets that idea across through smooth scenes displaying how human kindness breaks through Grisha’s various frustrations. Rush gets uniformly fine work from his performers, with Umstead’s casual cool breaking him out from the pack, and the picture is well-made, if a little over-reliant on dissolves. But this isn’t the sort of short one picks apart in good conscience, because it happily lacks ambitions to do more than one thing. Rush does that one thing quite well, so “The Ice Cream Man” is a flavorful confection about people bridging their differences.
Posted on March 9, 2005 in Reviews by Peter Hanson
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