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Racetime – Movie Review

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Racetime – Movie Review

Rating: C+ (Above Average)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy eOne Films

Three years ago, the Canadian film The Dog Who Stopped the War was adapted into an animated feature, although one’s feelings about Snowtime may depend on the English dub, as something felt lost in translation. The odd tonal shifts didn’t help much, either. With the sequel Racetime, director Benoit Godbout has improved some elements and the English translation is also better written this time. This film manages to celebrate creativity and ingenuity, although the result is definitely pitched to a very young crowd. This is undoubtedly a children’s film and the target audience is likely to get enjoyment out of it. Older folks might have their patience tested by the frequent shouting and yelling exhibited by the protagonists.

Racetime appropriately shines the most during the racing sequences, as the characters sled down hills and through loops. The camera swoops behind them and the production designers have done a lovely job with bringing this snow-covered small town to life. There are a few subplots scattered throughout, but they all come together via the central quest to win the big race. The main one, centered around Frankie Four-Eyes mounting the ultimate race track and sled, is at its strongest when focused on the message of creativity. There is a nicely animated scene where the ideas start swirling in his head, which properly portrays this message.

The other subplots are a little less interesting. One involving a lost puppy provides a certain level of cuteness, but not much beyond that. The main villain’s sister gets her own arc, too, which does tie into the plot and also features a few superfluous musical numbers. What most older viewers might find aggravating is that about three quarters of the dialogue is yelled out. This becomes tiring very quickly and is not all that pleasant to listen to, even if the voice actors are giving it their all. The aforementioned villain Zac also proves a tad annoying, although he properly does the job of making himself appropriately unlikeable.

Its predecessor’s success in Quebec has resulted in a higher animation budget and a noticeable upgrade in that department. The characters are more expressive and energetic this time around, with the physical comedy bits working quite well. The filmmakers seem to understand that children in heavy winter outfits is a humourous sight and seeing them wobbling about in the background is certainly amusing. The shading and lighting in certain sequences also deserve to be mentioned and as previously expressed, the sled racing scenes are impressively mounted. The soundtrack is peppered with a number of songs, although none of them are likely to stick in one’s head after a viewing.

Racetime is passable, if thin, children’s fare and there’s not a lot for those who have to sit and watch it with them. The story is harmless enough with messages about teamwork, helping others and creativity and those are good lessons for children to learn. The problem comes from having to listen to the constant screaming and yelling from all of the central characters and who wants to listen to that for ninety minutes? Racetime might have been better served as a half-hour television special, but it does avoid the strange changes in tone from Snowtime and will certainly be less traumatizing for children.

Stefan Ellison

Stefan Ellison