Rated PG - Running Time: 1:25 - Released 2/11/00

Waking up to look out the window and see a world covered with deep, new snow is every kid's winter dream, and it's especially sweet when it happens on a school day and classes have to be canceled. This is the scenario for Chris Koch's Snow Day, a new opus from the fledgling Nickelodeon Films production company. Since the Nickelodeon TV network is known for fluffy, pre-teen entertainment, one would not expect Snow Day to be particularly deep. And it isn't. And the fact that its adult stars are Chevy Chase and Chris Elliott doesn't make it any deeper.

Snow Day, written by Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi, centers on a young man named Hal (Mark Webber), who, although he is a nobody at school, has eyes for the most popular girl, Claire (Emmanuelle Chriqui). The trouble is, Claire doesn't know he exists, and she's already dating the school jerk (David Paetkau). When a sudden snowstorm cancels school, Hal thinks he might have a chance with Claire since "on a snow day, anything can happen." Little does Hal know that his level-headed female friend Lane (Schuyler Fisk) has a crush on him. Meanwhile, Hal's father (Chase) is a local TV meteorologist forced to wear crazy costumes in an attempt to raise his sagging ratings, and his little sister (Zena Grey) is on a mission to extend the school holiday by stopping the much-feared "Snowplow Man" (Elliott) from completing his duties.

There isn't anything overtly offensive about Snow Day, apart from some flatulence humor which particularly prudish viewers may find unsavory, but it doesn't really have all that much to offer, either. Perhaps the best aspect, and the least appealing to kids, is the teen romance story, since Fisk and Webber are the best actors in the film. There is a bizarre appearance by shock-rocker Iggy Pop as a skating rink DJ addicted to easy listening music (no children would ever recognize him), and some funny gags involving Elliott and the farting kid. Chase is not doing his usual comic pratfall schtick here; he's relegated to a more serious part, although he does take an on-air sledride tumble down a snowy slope. Also appearing is Jean Smart (Designing Women) as Hal's career-minded mother who has little time for her kids between on-line meetings and self-administered pep talks. Finally, there is a running gag involving the school principal (Damian Young) being mercilessly pelted with snowballs wherever he goes.

The magic of an uscheduled day off is the theme of this film, and all the characters find ways to overcome their most daunting obstacles within the 24 hours represented. It's a reasonably pleasant diversion, but if it's snowy outside, I would think skiing, sled-riding, or engaging the neighbor kids in a spirited snowball battle would be a much more rewarding use of the time. **½

Copyright 2000 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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