• Weakly trying to spin mythology out of the mundane by making a fluke day off from school into something ridiculously magical
• Packing in multiple plotlines—anchored by Chevy Chase as a put-upon meterologist, Jean Smart as his workaholic wife, and Mark Webber as his lovestruck son—and barely finding time to resolve them
• Borrowing liberally from '80s snobs-vs.-slobs comedies, right down to a soundtrack that features a Foreigner song at a key romantic moment
Defender: Director Chris Koch, screenwriters Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi
Tone of commentary: Cynical, smartassed. The sound-alike trio of Nickelodeon veterans are the kind of DVD commentators who respond to a freeze-frame by saying, "It was hard to freeze time in real life," and who keep a running fart count.
What went wrong: The filmmakers enjoy pointing out how cheap everything looks ("that snow on the roof is cotton, and if you look closely, you can see wrinkles") and how they had to fudge their Canadian location to make it stand in for upstate New York. ("That's downtown Edmonton in the background the people in Syracuse loved that.") They also seem to delight in how contrived their story is. When Smart puts down her cell phone and finally plays with her son, Koch asks his screenwriters, "Did any of you guys ever have a snowball fight with your mom when you were a kid?" They respond, "Never."
Comments on the cast: When high-school love interest Emmanuelle Chriqui appears with her erect nipples poking against her swimsuit: "There's our PG rating."
Inevitable dash of pretension: The pretension tends to be sarcastic, like when they refer to a long shot of a snowy field as "Lawrence Of Arabia in snow," or when they call a close-up of a snowglobe "our ode to Citizen Kane."
Commentary in a nutshell: After the opening narration explains how snow is formed—the cinematic equivalent of opening a term paper with the words "Webster defines"—Koch admits that all the facts about snow are made-up. "That's the beauty of cinema," he shrugs.