"Snow Day"

A pleasant enough little comedy that earns a 6 on the snow-o-meter, partially redeemed by Iggy Pop's reverie on snow in Manhattan.

By Stephanie Zacharek
October 23, 2000 11:00PM (UTC)
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"Snow Day"
Directed by Chris Koch
Starring Chevy Chase, Chris Elliott, Jean Smart, Mark Webber
Paramount; widescreen (1.85:1) and full screen (1.33:1)
Extras: Cast and crew interview featurette, behind-the-scenes spots, promotional featurette, director and screenwriter commentary

I confess that I was curious about "Snow Day" because it's set in my hometown of Syracuse, N.Y., and boy, do we native upstate New Yorkers know snow. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 as the utmost praise, I would rate the artificial snow used in "Snow Day" an overall 6: When one of the movie's young principals (Zena Grey) opens the door to a winter wonderland that's appeared overnight, the blanket isn't realistically pristine enough for the early morning -- there are way too many lumps in it! However, if I were grading on sheer volume alone, I'd have to grudgingly grant a 9.5: When the mom of the household (Jean Smart) attempts to drive out of the family garage, she's blocked by drifts that almost reach the top of the door. Cool!


But enough about the snow -- for now. "Snow Day" is a pleasant enough little comedy, probably more entertaining for kids than for grown-ups, about what happens when so much snow falls that school is closed. Young Hal (Mark Webber) gets an opportunity to woo the classmate he's got a crush on (Emmanuelle Chriqui), despite the fact that it's his gal pal Lane (Schuyler Fisk) who truly cares for him. Hal's little sister, Natalie (Grey), plans to wreak revenge on a maniacal snowplow driver (Chris Elliott) who's terrorizing the local kids with his big, scary vehicle. Chevy Chase, Natalie and Hal's dad, is a local TV weatherman who just wants a little respect -- Pam Grier is his boss and, boy, is she tough -- and this particular snow day gives him a chance to earn it.

The romance makes for the most engaging subplot (Webber has an appealing lightness). But otherwise, the picture doesn't quite capture the real magic of a snow day, although it does feature a weird cameo by Iggy Pop, as an ice-rink DJ with a fondness for Al Martino.

On the DVD commentary, we learn that, of course, the movie wasn't filmed anywhere near Syracuse but somewhere in Canada, and not in winter but in springtime. (Boo! Hiss!) In one of the DVD featurettes, a tech guy enthusiastically explains how artificial snow is made, just in case you ever need to make any at home. Otherwise, both featurettes include numbingly dull commentary from members of the cast and crew explaining what a snow day is (Duh! But I suppose there are some poor little deprived kids in California who need the concept explained to them) and mistily recounting their own snow-day memories (including the digging of tunnels and the building of forts). A little of that goes a long way, but Iggy's recollection of the 1993 blizzard that hit New York does have its charms: "People were skiing on Fifth Avenue. It was wonderful."

Stephanie Zacharek

Stephanie Zacharek is a senior writer for Salon Arts & Entertainment.

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