Wednesday, October 19, 2011
A while back I signed up for a homeschoolers product testing group, then promptly forgot about it. Well, they just reminded my by sending me a free movie. Today I give you my review.
(*Warning, if you absolutely hate spoilers then you may not want to go on. While I try not to give everything away, I happen to like spoilers as they better help me to decide if it's something for me and my family.)
The movie "Snowmen", which is slated for limited release on Friday October 21, 2011, is of the quintessential feel-good family movie fair. It stars Bobby Coleman (of Martian Child) as Billy Kirkfield a young, enthusiastic, and charismatic youth who wants to do something 'big'. He wants to be remembered, not as a 'loser', but as someone who did something. And he has cancer. He tells us right from the beginning that he is dying, so it shouldn't be a surprise, but I will tell you that it takes and unexpected turn in the feel-good-movie sort of way.
At the beginning of the movie a bit of trauma strikes the kids as the body of an elderly gentleman is found in the snow after the previous weeks storm. When Billy and his friends, the ever endearing Lucas, and the tough, but slightly out of place cuz he's from Jamaica and stuck in a frozen waste land, Howard decide to go to the old man's funeral and find no one there, Billy becomes obsessed with doing something that will get him remembered. Just like every family film, there are warm parts, and parts that make you get a bit misty eyed, there is the bully and the girl and the misunderstanding that comes with being a tween that's trying to do something that is bigger than himself. There's even Christopher Lloyd with a bit of sage wisdom.
(*spoilers*) What I didn't like about this movie was that I wasn't given any spoilers beforehand (I happen to like spoilers, it never ruins it for me, it just gets me excited about it) in order to determine who this movie was best for. Primarily concerning the death. While neither the body of the older man or our beloved Billy was intensely graphic, knowing about Billy's 'death scene'** may have prompted me to watch it when my 3 year old was down for nap. Because, of course, that's now what he remembers the most. I wont say it was traumatic for him to watch, but I may have not had him watch at any rate, or at least covered his eyes for that scene. For myself and the girls it was defiantly a tear jerking, how-can-this-be? sort of scene. I'm not the type to completely shelter my children from death but I like to know ahead of time so I decide if it's too much or not.
(**Billy drowns in an accident when he falls through the ice. He is speaking to us the whole time as narrator during this and is quite calm and reassuring about the whole event, but we are shown that he is unable to hold his breath any longer after being trapped under the ice, and when he is pulled up his is not breathing and is quite blue.)
What I liked was that every person got his moment, or even moments to shine. Lucas and Howard had nothing in this deal but to help out a buddy, but they both put themselves out there to do it. Tender Lucas stood up to the bully, Jason, and won, and he did probably one of the most heroic things ever in saving Billy.
Howard showed moxie and skill right from the beginning, as well as loyalty. He could have easily been one of those kids that meets the dorky kid first, then after realizing it quickly detaches himself from said dork and establishes himself with the cool kids. But he didn't, and I respect that. (Maybe cuz I was the dorky kid...)
Even Jason-the-bully comes into his own. He shows his own tenderness and shoulders the burden, literally, when Billy and Lucas need him the most.
And then there's Billy. So bright and determined to do something big, so sure of the way things are that he can't see the other possibilities. ("It's funny how clear everything is when it's too late.") But aren't we all like that sometimes? In the quiet time that Billy and his friends spend with Lloyd's character they learn something that we really all know but just tend to forget. Something truly "profound". Lloyd says "It's not about what people do, but how they do it. Maybe being a good person is a purpose all by it's self."
In all, this was a good, feel-good (yes, even after the drama it's 'feel good') movie that we enjoyed watching. My13year old said that 'while at 1st she was not impressed by the title, Snowmen, she really did enjoy it and it had a lot of funny quotes that can be used in a round of 'movie quote game'. My 10year old said it was 'sad in parts, but cool', even she got a bit misty eyed but it was funny and she liked the outcome. My 7year old gave it 2 thumbs up. She liked that the bully becomes a friend and even helps them in the end. And my 3year old was a bit entranced by the accident. (He said "Billy fell.") But maybe that will deter him from trying to walk on the ice.
If your family is looking for a "humorous and heartfelt coming-of-age story about three unlikely heroes and the winter that changed their lives forever" type of family movie, then this may be the one for you.