Living and growing up (or, at least, getting old) in California, I've never had a snow day. The only time I ever got to miss school due to some act of God was when that awful earthquake shook things up in 1989. But I bet that that's not nearly as fun as a real snow day because with earthquakes you can't go out and play in the rubble and on the collapsed freeways and bridges. You can't do anything because the power is out all over. And because the World Series that year was between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A's, that got delayed too so I didn't even get to see that.

It was very disappointing.

Nice weather is nice, sometimes, but I sure would've liked to have at least one snow day.

Perhaps the greatest source of joy and sheer creative passion that can happen during the winter months for a k-12 student or teacher, a snow day occurs when regular classes are cancelled due to unsafe road conditions caused by sleet, ice, freezing rain, or snow (hence the name). Snow days take place most often in school districts which are far enough south that cold temperatures and slippery roads are not an every day affair, yet are far enough north for snow to not be something unexpected or unusual.

Normally, snow days follow a set pattern. The moment the first flakes of snow start falling, school-age children enter the hope phase. Children sit around, eagerly listening to the radio and gazing longingly at the slowly growing list adorning the bottom of various television stations in the region. Every time the alphabetical listing of schools comes close to displaying whatever school the particular members of a household attend, conversation falls silent as all eyes are riveted to the little blue bar on the bottom of the screen.

Next, comes the decision phase. This part of the snow day is often hidden from the eyes of both instructors as well as pupils. This sacred ceremony involves the superintendent and various school board members stepping out onto their front porches at regular intervals. Should any of the chosen few slip and/or fall on a patch of ice, then school is called off.

Upon the slippage of one of the school's high-ranking members, the snow day decision is relayed to local television and radio stations. The resultant exclamation of happiness, heard county-wide, designates when the snow day enters its third phase: exultation. Suddenly snowmen, snow angels, and sled trails appear on what was before a white blanket of miniscule ice crystals. Snowballs whiz through the air, striking unsuspecting parents on their expensive work clothes. The land transforms into a snow utopia.

When the actual snow day happens, the fourth phase begins: relaxation. During the hours which would have been spent at school, children across the land lie in bed, often sleeping until well past what would have been fourth period. Normal sleep cycles are destroyed, and breakfasts are missed at an alarming rate. Cruel teachers sit at home, muttering about how much valuble class time is being wasted while these brats sit at home being non-productive members of society.

Finally, the last phase of the snow day occurs months later, as summer vacation is drawing near. Because of the unfortunate reality of missed school days being added to the length of time until children are freed from their shackles and allowed to go out and play as they see fit, the last stage of a snow day is regret. "We could have been out of this stinking cess-pit weeks ago, had we not missed the whole month of January because of a blizzard!" enraged students shout, shaking their fists at the sky. Ultimately, though, most students are forced to admit that missing a day or two here or there because of a few flakes of snow is a good thing, over-all.

The best movie about snow days ever! - Orange Julius

Within the first five minutes of "Snow Day", you realize that it differs in no other way from any other offering from Nickelodeon Studios. It stars popular actors from the network, has a fairly well-written plot, shys away from violence, foul language, and sex, and everything turns out right in the end. It's formulaic and predictable, but that's exactly why it succeeds. The joy is in watching the story unfold. The only question is how entertaining the ride will be.

Helmed by first time director Chris Koch, the story centers around a day in the life of the Brandston family. But this day is unlike any other day... it's a SNOW DAY, a day filled with magic and wonder, a day where, as the male lead Hal (Mark Webber) says, "anything can happen." The anything in this case is winning the heart of high school hottie Claire Bonner (Emmanuelle Chriqui). Hal has a grand plan in mind... when he returns the dolphin bracelet that he found to Claire, his winning personality and the magic of the snow day will capture Claire's heart. The only problem, as his tomboy friend Lane (Schuyler Fisk) points out, is that Claire not only has a boyfriend, but she doesn't even know he exists.

Meanwhile, Hal's younger sister Natalie (Zena Grey) has a tall task ahead of herself, too. In the history of the town, there has never been a second snow day, thanks to the evil Snowplowman (Chris Elliot), who is rumored to make the chains on his snow tires from the braces of kids he's run over. Natalie and her elementary school friends must devise a plot to foil Snowplowman and get their second snow day. It won't be easy, as the fiendish Snowplowman's only loves in life are his pet raven, and making kids suffer by shattering their dreams of snow-filled streets.

The rest of the Brandston family isn't sitting around idly, however. Father Tom Brandston (Chevy Chase) is a meteorological genius who is getting pasted in the ratings by a charlatan weatherman with dazzling charisma. As the two scurry around town covering slice-of-life stories for their stations, Tom ends up as the hard luck loser trying to one-up the new king of weather. His wife Laura (Jean Smart) is still trying to telecommute, but the playful antics of their youngest son Randy are keeping from getting any work done.

Will Hal win Claire's heart? Will Natalie defeat Snowplowman and get her second snow day? Will Tom regain the respect he has lost? Will Laura learn to relax and enjoy a day off? What does Lane want from this snow day? Can Principal Weaver weather the ceaseless barrage of snowballs and make it back to his house? Why does Iggy Pop continue to appear in children's movies? Are T-Boz and Left-Eye angry at Chilli's newfound movie career? Why do I, after looking at the cast on imdb, have no recollection of Carly Pope being in this film? Most of these questions are answered in entertaining fashion in "Snow Day".

In all seriousness, this isn't a bad movie at all, but it's SERIOUSLY tailored towards kids, so if you're expecting laugh out loud funny or intense drama, my only hope is that you're pre-adolescent. Critics HATED this movie, one going so far as to say he'd eat yellow snow before sitting through it again. But it grossed $60 million during its run through theatres in 2000, so parents and their kids apparently approved of it. If I were twelve, this would probably be my favorite movie of all time (assuming I hadn't yet seen "The Goonies").

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