2000; Rated PG; 90 Minutes
Chris Elliott: Snowplowman
Mark Webber: Hal Brandston
Jean Smart: Laura Brandston
Schuyler Fisk: Lane Leonard
Iggy Pop: Mr. Zellwegger
Pam Grier: Tina
Chevy Chase: Tom Brandston
Produced by Grace Gilroy, Albie Hecht, David Kerwin,
Will McRobb, Julia Pistor, Chris Viscardi and Raymond Wagner;
Directed by Chris Koch; Screenwritten by Will
McRobb and Chris Viscardi
by DAVID KEYES
simplicity of a premise is sometimes the best possible concept
for certain movies, and when the word comedy enters the
mind, the finest examples we tend to think of first are
those that don't reach so high to attain their sense of
humor. This is essential thinking because laughter is most
easily seen in everyday situations--at the office, in the
school yard, on the streets, and even right in the home.
The only real differentiating factor between each is the
approach of the slapstick; some choose to provoke the comedy
with cruelty and/or intentional distress, others simply
rely on the threat of embarrassment to amuse the moviegoer.
there are limits, and one of the most frustrating aspects
of "Snow Day" is its ability to take simplicity and twist
it dry of every ounce of joy. The film is a dreary series
of flat jokes and dimwitted characters that the director
tries to pass off as something deserving of a theatrical
run. There is a peculiar essence to the approach to begin
with; rather than a simple presentation of the material,
the story shifts directions and then splits into three dissimilar
passages, suffocating the core subject with its numerous
gaps. The thrill of any snow day is appealing to the general
audience--but what audience does "Snow Day" reach for when
using childhood fear, teenage romance and adult competition
for its central devices, anyway?
movie opens promisingly enough, taking us to Syracuse, New
York where children gather around radios at the approach
of a monstrous but unforeseen snow storm. The only man who
predicts this storm to hit, a weatherman named Tom Brandston
in competition with others at nearby local television stations,
begins as the central character in the entire development
(played rather smoothly by Chevy Chase). Then we get to
know the kids of the neighborhood (one of them named Natalie
is actually Tom's daughter), who are thrilled at the prospect
of everything being put on hold for a day. Everything after
that begins to unravel.
the weatherman angle for the moment, the movie's main focus
is on children, as to be expected. The fond memories of
a snow day usually take place during child hood, the time
when we leap at the opportunity of getting out of school
for a day filled with excitement and joy in a blanket of
white ice. Unfortunately, the children of Syracuse, New
York want more than just one day off from school; their
initial problem lies with the local snowplow, which is able
to clear streets swiftly and is operated by a man played
by Chris Elliot (also seen in "There's Something About Mary").
It is left up in the air as to whether the man behind the
snowplow is crazy or simply turgid, but there is an intriguing
rumor attached to his background--it is said by many that
his car's chains are made from the braces of children he
had run down with the plow.
before there is any kind of thickening for the children's
dilemma, though, yet another story is introduced. This time
the focus turns to the teenage crowd, involving a kid named
Hal (played by Mark Webber, also one of Tom's children)
who is trying to get the most attractive female in the school
(at least in his opinion) to notice him. Will he find romance?
Will the snow day help? Obviously. But it's not like anyone
whole plot structure is like a jigsaw puzzle without the
edges; it builds slowly and but is never given a set of
restrictions. This allows all hell to break loose with even
further plot developments and character introductions, including
Tom's wife who is a workaholic angered by the sudden snow
arrival, and a snooty program honcho who forces the poor
weatherman to dress up in the most ridiculous outfits ever
made for a human being.
Chris Koch, who steps behind the director's chair for the
first time, looks to be in search of simple material to
start his career with. But his problem is merely the jaw-droppingly
strained screenplay written by Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi.
To that effect, he is not one to blame for all of this insidious
boredom, because his style and artistic ambition are at
least competent while the story labors overblown buildups.
Besides, the only thing worse than seeing complex ideas
squandered away by inept filming is seeing even simpler
ones dry up in the first ten minutes because of a dimwitted
David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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