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Snowtime! – Movie Review

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Snowtime! – Movie Review

Rating: D+ (Bad)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy eOne Films

From the compelling shorts produced by the National Film Board to the talented graduates of Sheridan College, Canada has proven to be a strong breeding ground for animation talent. Snowtime! has quite the pedigree attached to it with director Jean-Francois Pouliot at the helm. The film is also a remake of the live-action family film The Dog Who Stopped the War, which is a childhood favourite for many Quebecois youngsters. Unfortunately, Snowtime! is a disappointing tonal mess that tries desperately hard for a laugh and then swings around and attempts to get the audience to cry. This is one of those animated features that annoys more-so than it charms.

The biggest problem with Snowtime! is the unlikeability of the children who populate the movie. Each one is thinly written and their motivations are shallowly portrayed. It’s difficult to get invested in their snowball war when none of them are written in a particularly interesting or unique way with not a single memorable kid in the bunch. The most eye-rolling portion of the script is when it tries to form a romance between lead protagonists Luke and Sophie, but the two of them have barely any chemistry or need to become entangled. The one character that stands out is Sophie’s younger sister, who is depicted as a ball of unstoppable energy.

The attempts at humour never click with the script going for either sophomoric gags or weak slapstick. The dialogue feels written rather than natural, though one wonders whether this is the result of a underwhelming English-language dub. Originally recorded in French, it feels like something was possibly lost in translation. The voices grate on the nerves and makes Snowtime! a tiring experience to sit through. This vocal track seems like it was written specifically for very young children, but it is possible to appeal to them without dumbing down the material. The use of a farting dog also leads to stunned silences.

Most jarring of all is the transition from the mediocre humour to gravitas. The script attempts to transition the audience from the aforementioned flatulent dog to a flashback involving the lead protagonist’s dead father. It’s a scene that could have been more touching were it not for the rest of the film surrounding it. There are sequences that try to elicit an emotional response, but they never feel earned. Compare that to, for example, Inside Out, which was able to blend scenes of comedy and serious drama in a effective manner. To Snowtime’s credit, the designs and animation have a soft and almost storybook feel to them. The characters are almost like little dolls, which makes them appealing in design. Quebec-based animation studio CarpeDiem shows quite a bit of promise and just need stronger material to work and craft stories from.

In this current golden age of animation, Snowtime! comes across as very second rate. Canada has plenty of talented artists at their disposal and with the right script, they can craft something that can travel across shores. If the country wants to produce something that can be measured alongside the Pixars of the world, they need to fund better material than Snowtime! Even the attempts at drama come across as forced and lack the necessary emotion to make them effective and it doesn’t help that the comedy doesn’t work. It’s possible that the original French version is far superior and the dub currently playing in English language Canada butchers it, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement.

Stefan Ellison

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