Hal and Natalie Brandston are siblings with obvious strengths and weaknesses.
Natalie, for instance, is effervescently bright, but someone who completely hates the idea of school and studying. In fact, she’ll go out of her way to lie a blue streak or even blackmail her teachers if it’ll get her out of class or a test.
And older brother Hal? Well, he’s a nice, attentive and completely likeable guy … who also happens to be utterly awkward around girls his own age. I mean, he can talk to his longtime bud, Lane; but she’s more of a good and dependable chum than a, well, you know, actual girl. At least in Hal’s eyes.
Anyway, the Brandston siblings are both hoping for something really big to happen.
Natalie needs a disaster or miracle to keep her from taking several tests she didn’t study for. And Hal longs for something that will push him to approach the beautiful Claire, a classmate he’s been sighing over for some time now. He just needs a nudge, a sign from above that it’s the right time to move
And they both get that magical happening in the form of a snow day.
The weather had gone from balmy to wintry overnight. Maybe it had to do with the Brandston kids dancing together or sighing at the sky separately, but it happened. And now they both just need to make the most of this special day and its unique possibilities.
Hal needs to use the wintry day to approach Claire with a romantic snow day plan. Surely, with the right application, and Lane’s help, this icy wonderland weather will prompt Claire to turn from her, ahem, hot boyfriend, Chuck, and toward the warm embrace of a nice guy named Hal.
Natalie, on the other hand, has a singular mission in mind. If she can stretch this one snow day into two snow days, then school will dismiss for winter break and the tests will be pushed off until they get back. And how do you turn one snow day into two? You keep the dreaded Snowplowman from clearing the town’s streets. Keep the streets snow-bound and icy, and, well, the buses don’t move.
Ah, the best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men … and girls who hate school. They’re all about to happen on a special snowy day.
Both Hal and Natalie get some solid advice from those around them that young viewers might take to heart.
Hal tells Natalie, for instance, that putting so much effort into avoiding school is silly. “If you tried really hard you could pass that test tomorrow,” he tells her. She balks at the idea, but later realizes that learning might actually be worthwhile and useful.
For Hal’s part, he’s told by his besty, Lane, that he doesn’t need to try so hard with girls or fret over how people see him. “Regular Hal, isn’t so bad,” Lane notes with a grin. And later, Hal returns the compliment, as he realizes that Lane is a bright and thoughtful friend … as well as a beautiful girl.
In a weird and broadly silly side story, Natalie and Hal’s kid brother, Randy, dresses up as a character who’s part cowboy sheriff and part Johnny Depp pirate, and handcuffs his parents together. They then have to spend playful time with him and each other, rather then work through their snow day. The parents realize that taking a break for silly play can be a plus, even in their own relationship. “I missed you,” one says to the other.
Hal and Natalie dance together in the strangely superstitious hope that it will call forth something magical. And Hal also looks to the sky with a wish for something special. He asks for “a sign.”
Both Claire and her boyfriend Chuck are narcissistically focused on their own attractiveness. They sing a song about getting the attention of the opposite sex. Claire also has an entourage of female friends who repeatedly praise her for her beauty and charm.
Claire wears a fully covered but tight and formfitting outfit. Hal and Lane kiss a couple times, and Claire kisses Hal’s cheek.
One of Natalie’s friends steals his grandmother’s bra to use as a snowball slingshot.
Hal is a little accident prone and stumbles a couple times, once from an elevated spotlight platform. (He’s never injured.)
A local urban myth insists that the infamous Snowplowman hates children and once ripped the braces off little kids and used them to make brass knuckles. But the worst we see him do is shoving a couple tormenting kids (who stole his property) into the cab of his truck.
Natalie and her friends, however, accidentally cut the brake line on Smowplowman’s truck, causing it to careen rapidly down a hilly road. In the course of that wild ride, Natalie and her buds jump out of the truck and into a snowbank. Another teen barely leaps out of the road in time; the truck crashes into a snow mound and sinks into a sinkhole.
Wayne, one of Natalie’s friends, hits a man with a purse while dressed as an elderly woman. Kids are pummeled with launched snowballs. Hal pushes someone down into a snowbank.
There are several uses of “oh my gosh” in the dialogue along with two misuses of God’s name (“For God’s sake” and “Oh God”), as well as one exclamation of “Jeez.”
While young Randy’s handcuffing shenanigans with his parents convey a movie message, it’s the sort of broadly foolish stuff that parents wouldn’t ever endure.
Snowplowman sings a song about hating kids that gives us a bit of his backstory. It deals with being bullied as a child.
As part of Natalie and her friends’ war against Snowplowman, she punctures and flattens one of his plow’s tires. Her friends also move to sabotage the truck’s operating mechanics. Elsewhere, Natalie lies to teachers and blackmails them with threats of exposing their gambling habits and theft of school property to the world.
Hal sneaks in to a teen girl’s house and steals someone’s snowmobile. Hal notes that someone has fallen ill. And Natalie, in an effort to get out of school, asks: “With what? Something contagious? I could lick him!”
Lane lies to a school friend so that she can take his place in a food truck. There’s a little gassy humor.
If anyone harkens back to Nickelodeon’s original 2000 version of Snow Day, they will attest to the fact that it was an extremely goofy pic that melted away from memory as quickly as a snow fort in July. Of course, someone must’ve remembered it fondly, for now we are graced with a musical reboot.
Its stop-the-Snowplowman premise is still silly and ridiculous. And its dialogue will make eyeballs, young and old, roll as quickly as a snowsuit-clad tyke tumbling down an icy sledding hill.
But … there is a certain rudimentary charm here. The preposterous onscreen stuff recalls a simpler time when parents didn’t have to worry about covering young eyes and ears during a kid’s movie. The actors this go ‘round are all likeable. The film encourages kids and parents to appreciate the relationships and situations we often take for granted. And this pic’s musical side does indeed add a sweet bouncy beat to the activities on hand.
Trust me, though, there’s nothing deep here. Even the snow cover feels surprisingly thin. But there’s nothing that’ll chill a typical parent’s blood either. It’s just a bunch of silliness garnished with a predictable dash of boy-girl romance between best friends.
Snow Day is a light, innocuous confection for days when the temps outside have dropped precipitously and the cocoa inside is warm and ready.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.