In college, after years and years of being bullied, picked on and everything else, I just wanted to vanish. The bbs/internet scene was in vogue at that time and I developed the moniker of Kedrix, the Forgotten One. I still use it from time to time. The truth is, I as well as many other people do want to be remembered and not forgotten. Our movie today, Snowmen deals with that very same subject. Hopefully, this movie is not forgettable.
Ahhh, the simplicity of snowmen on a cold winter’s day. Billy Kirkfield (played by Bobby Coleman) puts together some small snowmen as he watches another kid (covered in snow clothes) move in to a local house. Billy tries to say hi to the new kid but the bundled kid reaches down for a piece of ice. Billy protests the oncoming ice shot but to no avail. So, Billy does as any other kid would do and returns fire. But the unnamed kid has catlike reflexes and is able to dodge each and every snow ball thrown.
Soon, a tackle and tumble style fight enters the fray. As the two are rolling around, Billy is able to unmask his opponent. As it turns out, it is Howard Garvey (played by Bobb’e J. Thompson ), a Jamaican. He smiles and they soon become best of friends. There is also a third friend who joins this group by the name of Lucas Lamb (played by Christian Martyn) who is the school wimp and says “Profound” a lot in hopes of it catching on.
Billy is going to have the most amazing winter ever. But as he narrates, it is also the year he died. Wait, what? Rewind that for a moment. Yeah, the year he died. Alright, let’s go on. The three friends one day are sitting in a Quinzhee. For those not in the know, a quinzhee is a shelter made by hollowing out a pile of settled snow. As they are playing, Billy notices a boot. All of the sudden, snow starts filling up the Quinzhee from a local crane and the three friends rush to get out.
But when the three get out, the source of the boot is revealed. It is attached to a frozen man, dead as a doornail in delightful icicles. The scene shifts to Billy’s home where we meet his father, Reggie (played by Ray Liotta), the town’s resident silly commercial car salesman. He is very happy to see his child alive and okay. Uncomfortably he showers Billy with kisses. We also meet Howard’s father Leonard (played by Doug E. Doug) who is still trying to adapt to the cold weather.
The next day at school, Billy is expecting a lot of publicity and new friends from discovering the dead body. He starts spinning the tale to his school crush, Gwen (played by Demi Petersen) but the school bully, Jason (played by Josh Flitter) comes down from Kill Hill (a giant pile of snow that is scooped out from the school parking lot) to dispute the claim. Soon this starts a fight but Howard steps in for his friend.
Thanks again to his catlike reflexes, Howard makes the bully look foolish and soon trips him into the snow. Soon, we start to realize that Billy has a secret. What is that secret you may ask? Well, it appears that Billy’s secret is that he has cancer and he is dying. He wears a winter hat all the time because of his lack of hair. But once the cat is out of the bag to his other friends, he tells them that he doesn’t want to die a loser. The three friends then set out with a little bit of help from the Guinness Book of World Records to change all that.
The rest of the movie is a wonderful story of twists and turns and a beautiful ending. In fact, it is such a beautiful ending that I am making a warning to all of my male readers right here and now. If you consider yourself masculine in any sort of the meaning or phrase, watch this by yourself before you watch it with your wife, kids, or even your dog. Trust me, the last thing you want to do is sit there balling up like some baby who just had their binkee taken away while your wife wonders if their pool cleaner would be a better choice of a lifelong mate.
(*Note, the writer does not admit that he was crying uncontrollably for one moment, he was only relaying the feelings that his imaginary twin brother by the name of Cecil was experiencing. The writer only admits that he walked through ten miles of snow uphill both ways to get to school. He also hates puppies and beats clogged sinks dead. Grrrrrrr*)
The cast was expertly chosen as well and it was a delight to see Bobb’e Thompson again in a comedic role. I had enjoyed him greatly in the underappreciated flic: Role Models. Other stand outs include Josh Flitter and Ray Liotta who did excellent job with their supporting characters. In fact, this movie also sports a great cameo by Christopher Lloyd who had a role of a Caretaker. There are no weak spots really to be found in the entire cast.
But the best part of the film is the great message it sends without being most importantly, preachy. This is something I harp on a lot with some of the Christian films that grace my doorstep. You can deliver a great message without harping on people on how they should live their life. Listening Fireproof or Madea’s Christmas? Anyway, this movie has a lot of good sentiments about life, anti-bullying and in general being a good person to yourself and others.
The video is in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation. This is filmed on location at Park City, Utah minus a few pieces of set work and it looks excellent. I liked that in many shots you could actually see the water drip off the snow. It made it feel that much cooler and I probably should have poured myself a cup of hot chocolate. Color is wonderful with all of the whites and blues and really bring some picturesque scenes to a very low-budget movie.
For the audio portion, we get a 5.1 English Dolby Digital. Sound is equally good with some good area effects and lots of environment drop-ins. Dialog is crisp and clear and nobody suffers from any accent issues (even the Jamaicans mon!). It is not going to blow up your speakers or anything but it is a very balanced sounding movie. Subtitles are included for English, English SDH and Spanish.
- Automatic Trailers: The Greening of Whitney Brown and The Great Ghost Rescue
- Audio Commentary with Director Robert Kirbyson & Line Producer Stephen Marinaccio: The two participants in this commentary from the get-go let us know up front that they are going to destroy some of that movie magic. Well, they do just that and explain a ton of technical details of how they used the snow and ice to their advantage. They also share some delightful stores and make this an enjoyable commentary.
- Bloopers & Outtakes 6:42: A great selection of bloopers highlighted by how many times Bobby Coleman had to pull up his pants. Eat a steak dude!
- The Profound True Story 3:00: Apparently, there is a true childhood story that the director Robert Kirbyson went through with a friend that was the inspiration for this movie. But he wanted to do it in a way that showed a positive message and good morals.
- Putting the Snow in Snowmen 4:12: This was filmed in Park City, Utah and they go on to talk about all of the difficulties of filming in the snow or lack there of. People discuss the real snow, fake snow and how the snowmen were made out of plaster.
- Ice, Camera, Action 3:16: This takes a look at the Pivotal ice scene (which I won’t elaborate further on) and how they were able to do the camera tricks.
- Making a Wish Come True 2:22: The Make a Wish Foundation does a lot of tremendous things for various kids stricken with usually a life threatening disease. One of those people affected is Kelsey Cassick. Her wish was to be an extra in this movie and she does so (she is the girl who ends up talking to one of the reporters). You’ll be happy to know that she is in full remission and is chasing her dream of being an actress. Awesome.
- Cool Run-Ins 2:21: As some might know, Doug E Doug was in the 1993 movie, Cool Runnings as a member of the Jamaican bobsled team. However, did you know that he never actually rode in a bobsled? Well, this rectifies that.
When I received my last shipment of movies to review, I would have told you up and down that Snowmen would probably be the worst of the bunch. It was a kid’s film after all and far too many of them these days are just an excuse to be super silly and go absolutely nowhere. But I was dead wrong. This film has the right type of messages (without being preachy) and is a wonderful movie to sit through and experience. The cast is A plus and the use of snow in this movie is fascinating.
The disc is also an excellent technical piece despite the fact that is not in blu-ray (a real shame). The video and audio are solid while the commentary and subsequent extras do exactly what they are supposed to do. Further the experience of the movie. Shocking, I know. I give this movie a solid recommendation. It is perfect for the holidays and in a sea of silly Christmas movies, I hope this one stands out for years to come.