Ice Grill, USA is a crossroads tale set within and beyond the glitz of the casino lights of Atlantic City. Auggie (Connor Fox) finds himself straddling two worlds; on the one side, his friend Cesar (Michael Angelo Ortiz) and a job running drugs for the local dealer Tommy (Tyler Noble). On the other side, his brother Bobby (Mark Kochanowicz) and a job working for casino magnate Ken Carlisle (Aaron Mathias). Also stuck in the middle is Cesar’s sister Claudia (Denise Ramirez), current “girlfriend” of both Tommy and Carlisle, which causes more than a few problems considering Auggie is attracted to her and finds himself entrusted by both men to make sure she’s not stepping out on them.
This is a film of poses. Dealer Tommy and magnate Carlisle are both putting on the pose of master of all things Atlantic City, despite their inability to even keep track of what their lady is doing. Bobby is putting on the pose of fast-rising corporate douchebag, and Auggie is wearing so many different masks it’s hard to tell exactly who he is, or why he has found himself so easily caught up in it all. Maybe he bought the pose of the powerful, but you get the sense he’s smarter than that.
Ice Grill, USA keeps a healthy parade of interesting characters in front of the camera, though those characters have a penchant for philosophical monologues that sometimes seem more like a writer stretching the pen than two people having a conversation. Still, in a film of poses, it makes sense. Folks who try to appear greater than they are sometimes err on the side of long-winded to convince the nonbelievers. The ones to look at for are the quiet ones, and that’s where the role of Auggie resides, almost like a sponge being forced to soak up nothing but bullshit.
This film looks good, sounds good and manages to keep your interest throughout. I could’ve done without some of the monologues, and there is a sequence here or there that seems dropped in just to give some insight into a smattering of nutjobs that frequent Atlantic City casinos, but overall the films comes together and works. I keep wanting to single out Connor Fox for his portrayal of Auggie, but the more I think on it the more I appreciate all the performances onscreen.