Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Netflix 1: Snow Day

Now, I know you are wondering, of all the movies that Netflix could possibly offer, why would I choose a little known kid's film that Nickelodeon made in 2000?

Well, for that answer, you have to go back to 1990.

In 1990, Nickelodeon began showing shorts featuring two brothers, named Pete & Pete. Along with such supporting characters as big Pete's friend Ellen, and little Pete's personal superhero, Artie: THE STRONGEST MAN IN THE WORLD!, they had many surreal adventures in the town of Wellsville, as the shorts grew into specials, and finally, into a full fledged series in 1993. Featuring guest appearances that ran the gamut from Micheal Stipe to Iggy Pop, "The Adventures of Pete & Pete" became the greatest Nickelodeon show ever. Seriously. How could a show with a character named "Endless Mike" not be the greatest Nickelodeon show ever?

Although new episodes stopped being produced in 1996, they continued to run on Nick for a few more years. In 2000, the film division of Nickelodeon released "Snow Day", and I noticed the writer's names, Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi, looked familiar. Sure enough, those were the two men who wrote "The Adventures of Pete and Pete." After doing a little digging around, I found out "Snow Day" was originally written as the Pete & Pete movie, but Paramount sat on it, and by the time it went into production, they turned it into it's own thing, with no reference to neither Pete nor Pete.

It was finally released in January of 2000, and I missed it in theaters. And I never got around to renting it. And do to my personal vow to not watch a movie for the first time on broadcast television, I never saw it. So when I finally joined Netflix after they lowered the price to $17.99 a month, "Snow Day" was at the top of my list.

So how was it?

It was OK, but it was missing two things: Pete and Pete.

The roles that you could plug in with characters in the show were obvious. The older brother, Hal, would be big Pete, and the little sister Nat, would be little Pete. Hal's best friend, Lane, would be Pete's best friend, Ellen. And so on.

It's the roles that are not easily filled by Pete and Pete regulars that are really the low points in the movie. For example, they added a third, younger sibling, who has a side story with the business minded mother, played by Jean Smart. Pete and Pete's mom really didn't have that much of a character, she just had a plate in her head. Also, the father, a local meteorologist played by Chevy Chase, has his own story, which is another low point.

All in all, the movie needed more Pete and Pete style wackiness. On the disc's commentary track, McRobb and Viscardi mention that they had many more surreal moments in both the script, and the original cut of the film. This was scaled back, and this causes the film to not reach the heights that it could possibly have as a Pete & Pete adventure.

But, alas, with Pete & Pete's stars growing up, Pete & Pete's over, and we'll never know what could have been. Director Chris Koch, who also worked on Pete & Pete, went on to direct episodes of "Scrubs" and the lackluster Jason Lee vehicle "A Guy Thing," while McRobb and Viscardi went on to write and produce "Ed" (the TV show, not the Matt LeBlanc baseball playing monkey comedy). Chris Vicardi has seemingly disappeared after "Ed", while Will McRobb has gone on to write and produce the Noggin show "Radio Free Roscoe," which, due to my laziness in upgrading to digital cable, I have yet to see.

Noggin, or 'The N!' as it has come to be known, is also the last place "The Adventure of Pete & Pete" has been seen. Sadly, no DVD is on the horizon.

"Now begins the Age of Pete!" - little Pete