Winter’s still present in Snowtime! A Review

2 Mar

snowtime-poster-lgBy Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

*Available to watch via iTunes USA, Amazon, Vudu, Google Play and Video on Demand

Winter can easily last forever in repeat viewings of the computer animated film, Snowtime!  Both director Jean-François Pouliot wonderfully crafted a tale reminiscent of watching an old Our Gang comedy and writer Normand Canac-Marquis nicely adapted the material from the 1984 Quebecois film La Guerre des Tuques (The Dog Who Stopped the War) into a well-meaning journey for Luke (voiced by Angela Galuppo). Although his father passed on about ten years ago from an undisclosed war, the boy did his best to make more friends while growing up in a quiet village. When there is no father-figure in his life, his mother can only do so much. A memento he carries to remember pops is his bugle. When two girls move into town, a few emotions are stirred when he meets Sophie (Lucinda Davis), the elder of the pair, for the first time.

With the few friends Luke has, life in this tiny town is simple. While the elders are busy with their life (this place may be a mining camp), the kids get the complete run of the town. When school lets out for winter break, everyone tries to find some activity to do. Boredom can set in quite fast and when one challenge provides a source of conflict, everyone decides to have one huge snowball fight to make the rest of their short vacation fun.

snowtime-photo-11Luke and Sophie get elected to be leaders of the two sides of the pretend conflict. Their aides are guiding the battle moreso than them. Under the guise of children having fun, the deeper reveals about bridging friendships are certainly there for audiences to discuss afterwards. But on the surface, to simply watch this movie about kids having fun elicits smiles and reminders of what it is to be young again. Although the world is this particular gang’s oyster, not everyday is going to be perfect. Luke struggles to find acceptance, which gives this film weight in a well-meaning tale about adolescence.

These lads are interesting. They make bold statements which reveal the problems of war from an allegorical and a youth’s perspective. The dialogue shared amongst the diverse cast of youths speaks volumes and the only people who will understand is the audience. In this crew is the intellectual Frankie (Sandra Oh), the dimwitted Chuck (Don W. Shepherd), the peace-loving Nicky (Elisabeth MacRae) and lamenting Jack (Catherine Trudeau). Pierre (Ross Lynch) is perhaps the closest to Luke, but his best bud, a St. Bernard named Cleo, round off this group of motley boys. Sophie’s little sister, Lucy (Sophie Cadieux) is like a bundle of energy to keep the cast going.

This Canadian made film is a lot of fun to watch and it can be found screening at select Cineplex Odeon locations across Canada. It made its premiere at Sundance Film Festival in January, and it had a special screening in Vancouver, BC during Spark FX 2016 Conference in early Feb. A panel followed the next day that looked at the conceptualization of this film. Shout Factory booked special screenings in the States which should continue playing this Winter. This multimedia distribution house acquired the rights last year.

Hopefully, an international roll out will take place sooner than later so other regions can enjoy this film. This movie lets kids be kids and after Austin & Ally, Ross Lynch is a fitting choice to be part of this cast. Yes, there’s even humour with the dog everyone loves. The anti-war message is not all that forced. The consequence is carefully explored in context of how certain actions can bring people together. Forgiveness is important.

4 Stars out of 5

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