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Snow Day

The term "Snow Day" means nothing to most adults, but kids who live in the proper climate understand the implication and might appreciate this harmless and forgettable flick.

It's as brainless as a day off from school and full of adventures that matter most to people ages 14 and younger.

Chevy Chase is the feature's headlining attraction, but he's more of a cameo in this kid pic. The real star is Mark Weber, playing Hal, a typical teen-age guy who obsesses over Claire (Emmanuelle Chriqui), the beautiful school princess.

Chase is his professional dad Tom Brandston, a decent man who wears a grass skirt while forecasting the local weather. Zena Grey is Hal's sister Natalie, a spirited youngster who preys for a precious snow day to break up her usual academic routine.

The arrival of the big snowstorm signals the beginning of a familiar, predictable pattern. Hal, aided by a likable gal pal (Schuyler Fisk) who might like him, seizes the unexpected holiday to try and win over his object of affection. His obstacles are plenty. A throng of equally infatuated admirers, including a brawny, dimwitted ex-boyfriend, surrounds Claire's house.

While big brother pines for the girl, Nat and the rest of the elementary kids battle a guy they call Snow Plow Man (Chris Elliott). He's an exaggerated caricature who seems to have wandered in from "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," and he and his snow plow truck are all that stand between the kids and another day off.

Back at the Brandston homestead, the kids' business-savvy mom (Jean Smart) reconnects with family life by watching her youngest son get into various sorts of domestic mischief (his passion is to color himself and run around in his underwear).

Meanwhile, hubby Tom resorts to reporting the weather from different locales. At one point, he broadcasts from a speeding sled in order to win more ratings from his snaky cross-town rival ("Dukes of Hazard's" unaged John Schneider).

Although the movie's characters move around quite well given their supposedly snowed-in condition, the story's a bit overstuffed for its 90 minutes. The love story's watchable albeit formulaic, yet it's shortchanged by the ridiculous subplot involving that Snow Plow guy.

Elliott as said character is clearly out of place in a kids' flick. His lingering mug might work as slapstick, except that it's not funny. He's basically an abnormal creep, as is the local principal, who absurdly prances around his barbecue grill before the cold weather sets in.

Chase, no stranger to dumb kid flicks or dumb flicks in general, is actually a highlight. He delivers a couple of zingers, and his underlying grin seems to indicate that he knows the value of this material. Too bad the script never really lets him loose. Getting similar short shrift are Pam Grier in the thankless role of Chase's station manager and Iggy Pop as the manic deejay at the local ice rink.

"Snow Day" is the product of Paramount and Nickelodeon Movies, and the sponsorship shows. The movie and its young cast never really grate, but unlike family films that are meant for the entire family, "Snow Day's" brand of juvenile humor appeals to a limited audience -- the kind that can watch it over and over on the Nickelodeon channel.

* MPAA rating: PG for brief, mild peril and language

'Snow Day'

Chevy Chase: Tom Brandston

Mark Webber: Hal Brandston

Zena Grey: Natalie Brandston

Schuyler Fisk: Lane Leonard

Emmanuelle Chriqui: Claire Bonner

A production of Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies. Producers Albie Hecht and Julia Pistor. Executive producer Raymond Wagner. Director Chris Koch. Writers Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi. Editor David Finfer. Director of photography Robbie Greenberg. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.