Judge David Johnson built an anatomically correct snowman and received a stiff fine from the municipal board.
Every one counts.
Things start off rough. Within a few minutes, our ten-year-old narrator who's battling a life-threatening illness notifies the viewing audience that he is going to die later in the film. Then, a few moments later, our three young protagonists come face to face with a frozen corpse in a snowbank. Yikes.
Despite the grisly opening, Snow Men turns out to be a pretty solid little family film, anchored by engaging, lively performances from its three diminutive stars (you'll recognize Bobb'e J. Thompson as the foul-mouthed kid from Role Models).
The game-plan: Three best friends decide to earn themselves a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records by creating a record-breaking number of snowmen. They recruit other kids in their school to help and soon their endeavor becomes a regional sensation. Unfortunately, there will be obstacles, like melting snow, a grief-stricken father (Ray Liotta), and the ever-present menace of a big fat school bully.
Look, if your kid can get past the genuinely off-putting and oddly implemented frozen dead guy jump scare, what awaits is a nifty little film loaded silly with heartfelt messages about camaraderie, compassion, friendship and love. (Pro-Tip: When the bulldozer starts moving the snow, distract your child.)
The three kids at the forefront are likable through-and-through, a near miracle in this age of irritating, precocious kiddos. Bobby Coleman, who plays Billy Kirkfield, the afflicted lead is especially good and it's nice to see Thompson not dropping the F-bomb. On the adult end, Ray Liotta and Christopher Lloyd add some juice to the cast and very much appear not to be just phoning it in for a paycheck and a seat at the catering table.
All in all, Snowmen is an inoffensive, earnest little tale of friendship and perseverance, with some anti-bullying grist tossed in for good measure. Aside from one intense moment in the beginning, I'd recommend giving it a go for your youngsters.
The DVD: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, 5.1 surround, and a solid number of extras, including a director's commentary, bloopers, a look at the true story behind the film, and four brief behind-the-scenes featurettes.
Decent entertainment for the fam. Not Guilty.
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