Making the Grades
What would the famous sci-fi novels Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles have in common with The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit? All are written by the renowned Ray Bradbury.
Based on the author's boyhood memories, this forgotten work was inspired by the hand-me-downs he had to wear for the first nineteen years of his life. Eager to shed his brother and father's cast offs, the first money he earned selling newspapers was spent on new clothes. Originally published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1957, the story was later made over as a television production and live stage play.
The 1998 movie features five down-on-their-luck men living in East LA. Smooth talking Gomez (Joe Mantegna) can't resist a beautiful, one hundred dollar, vanilla-colored suit he discovered in a store window. Unfortunately, he can't afford to pay for it. So the quick-thinking opportunist devises a creative solution: convince four other men (all the same size as himself) to put in twenty bucks each, and all five of them can take turns wearing the tuxedo for an hour. But the plan comes up one body short, forcing the pact to reluctantly include Vamenos (Edward James Olmos). Although the street bum hasn't seen a bath in close to ten years, he has the needed filthy lucre in one of his grimy pockets.
Believing "clothes make the man", each participant dons both the suit and his innermost desires. The surprising results are magic -- until "what's on the inside" threatens to count.
Offering many humorous moments and yards of material to talk about, this film is a close fit for family viewing. The only caveats are a couple of slow-motion punches in a bar brawl scene, some reckless driving, and a woman wearing a low cut dress.
Even though it is a Disney / Touchstone production, the short feature still has the innocence of an independent work. Emphasizing the importance of wearing our dreams on our sleeves, this light-hearted tale provides a surprising contrast to Bradbury's other works.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit.
Did the suit give the men who wore it any extra powers that they would not have had otherwise? Do we believe that we are able to do things better or differently when we are wearing the latest designer clothes?
What did these men gain that was even more valuable than their experience wearing the suit?