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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Snowtime! is an animated remake of the live-action French-Canadian film La Guerre des Tuques (The Dog Who Stopped the War) about a group of kids who get involved in an elaborate snow battle during their winter break from school. Adults are alluded to, but never seen; the opposing teams are led by a boy whose father was killed in a war (there are sad flashbacks to his funeral) and a new girl in town who proves to be a tough, compassionate leader. The battle starts out fun, but ultimately a misunderstanding leads to tragedy (there are some very sad moments near the end, and the story ends on this downbeat note). That said, it's also refreshing and funny, without the sarcasm and snark that's constant in many mainstream animated movies. Expect some teasing/name-calling ("four eyes," "weird," etc.), a quick kiss between two characters, and frequent talk of war, mostly in the context of the snow battle.
- Parents say
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What's the story?
In SNOWTIME!, a group of friends living in a mountain village get into an epic snowball fight to kill time during their two-week winter break from school. Luke (voiced by Angela Galuppo) and new girl in town Sophie (Lucinda Davis), both 11, lead their teams into battle: Whichever team ends up occupying the elaborate snow fort wins the war. The conflict escalates, feelings are hurt, issues are resolved, and fun is had -- until a tragic turn makes the kids realize even a snow war can have serious consequences.
Is it any good?
This is a lovely animated film about a group of kids who learn about the hazards of war during a drawn-out snow battle. And while Snowtime! is beautiful to look at, what makes it so special is the pacing. It's not frenetic or over the top; instead, it's sweet and full of lessons about why war is never good and friendship is always the most important. It's also funny and entertaining for both parents and kids -- although the sad twist at the end may be too much for some younger or more sensitive kids.
There's also a sweet love story (they're 11, so it's mostly flirting, with one kiss) between Luke, who's mourning the loss of his soldier father (the boy's grief comes to life when he plays "Taps" on his bugle), and his "nemesis" Sophie, a smart, independent girl who gets dragged into the fight and becomes a strong leader. Their friends/teammates are a ragtag group of funny, interesting kids that includes Frankie (Sandra Oh), a boy genius who's asked to make a snow fort but ends up creating a high-tech fortress.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the snow fight was fun at first but eventually went too far. Kids: What do you do when you feel like your friends are acting inappropriately or out of control? What message does Snowtime! send about war and violence?
How did the movie's sad moments make you feel? Do you think they were necessary to the story? How did they change the movie's tone?
Luke and Sophie like each other, but they have trouble expressing their feelings. Have you ever liked someone but couldn't tell the person how you felt? What happened?
- In theaters: February 19, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: November 8, 2016
- Cast: Angela Galuppo, Mariloup Wolfe, Lucinda Davis
- Directors: Jean-Francois Pouliot, Francois Brisson
- Studio: Shout! Factory
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship
- Character Strengths: Empathy, Teamwork
- Run time: 80 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: mild thematic elements and rude humor
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