Snow Day

2000, Movie, PG, 89 mins


Mildly amusing and as obvious as it is good-natured, director Chris Koch's debut film is nonetheless a rare teen comedy in which parents (the surprisingly at ease Chevy Chase and Designing Women star Jean Smart) are depicted as hip, funny and caring. That's one of exactly two sort-of original ideas in Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi's screenplay, so it's fortunate that the other one — the almost mystical aura the characters attach to the titular school holiday — doesn't outstay its welcome. Fifteen-year-old Hal Brandston (Mark Webber) sees an unexpected blizzard as his chance to make an impression on the girl of his dreams (Emanuelle Chriqui), despite the threat posed by her airhead jock of an almost ex-boyfriend (David Paetkau). Hal's 10-year-old sister, Natalie (the wonderfully deadpan Zena Grey), is engaged in not-too-mortal combat with neighborhood scourge the Snowplowman (Chris Elliott), a villain whose snow-tire chains are rumored to be made from the braces of kids he's run over. Their dad (Chase), a TV weatherman, is trying to give his lying, blow-dried competitor the comeuppance he so rightly deserves, and Hal's best friend Lane (Sissy Spacek's daughter Schuyler Fisk) tries to open the little lug's eyes to the fact she's actually the perfect girl for him. Most of this is familiar from about a zillion '80s teen flicks, but the kids are uniformly terrific; there's a great (and totally unexpected) stop-motion animation sequence; and the script's big running gag, involving a harried school principal and invisible snowball throwers, is a genuine hoot. The majestic Pam Grier is sadly wasted in the small role of Chase's station boss. But looking on the bright side, it's all but impossible to resist a movie in which a teenager sees something startling and is moved to exclaim, "Man, oh man of La Mancha!" leave a comment --Steve Simels

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