Film Review: RACETIME (Canada 2018) ***

Racetime Poster
Trailer

A spectacular sled race through the village. Frankie-Four-Eyes and his team, including Sophie as the driver, take on the newcomers: the mysterious and conceited Zac and his athletic cousin … See full summary »

If the Canadian (Quebecois) animated feature’s characters look family, you might have seen the film THE DOG WHO STOPPED THE WAR which RACETIME is based on or SNOWTIME which is its prequel.  RACETIME, as its title implies is a race of sleds. 

The subject is the  spectacular sled race through the village. Frankie-Four-Eyes and his team, including Sophie as the driver, take on the newcomers: the mysterious and conceited Zac and his athletic cousin Charly.  The fantastic sled designed by Frankie disintegrates right before crossing the finish line.  This becomes the most bitter loss for Frankie who refuses to accept that he might have made some building mistakes.  Frankie gets into  a fight with Sophie who blames the sled.  Together with his friends, Frankie manages to prove that Zac cheated during the race.  Frankie demands a rematch; which Zac accepts on condition that Frankie build an entirely new race track. Frankie and his friends build a spectacular race track. Zac realizes he is up against a worthy opponent so he raises the stakes even more by cornering Frankie into betting the barn.  As the two teams prepare for race day, Zac has no scruples about cheating even more to weight the outcome of the race in his favour.  But Frankie and his team have a few surprises of their own in store for him.

The Canadian animation can nowhere be compared to the animation of Disney and Pixar studios.  But RACETIME holds it own.  What it might lack in technology is compensated by creativity.  The animation fo the races, the one at the start and the climatic one are both brilliantly conceived and executed with the sleds soaring into the air, while the sleds turn as if cameras were placed in the real sleds.  The snow in the animated scenes also looked remarkable real.

The film could do with a solid villain or a nastier Zac than one who merely cheats.  The part where Frankie befriends his nemesis treads clichéd territory.  However, this can be forgiven for a family film.

The film contains a few scenes with blurry images and a few where objects are flung out (like snow pellets) of the screen.  RACETIME must have been conceived as a 3-D film at one point.

Of all the voice characterizations, the best one is Frankie’s.  Frankie is voiced, surprisingly by a female, Lucinda Davis, who has to ability to make even the most ordinary of lines like ‘How dare you?’  funny.

For the audience who likes a bit of romance in the story, there is a sub-plot involving the strongest kid in the village, Chuck and Charly, the sister of the cheating Zac.  The film also contains a few messages for the young audience – put in for good measure.

There are a few song and dance numbers -the songs courtesy of Cindi Lauper.  The animated dance sequence at the end to celebrate the winner  of the race is also sufficiently lively.

RACETIME turns out to be an entertaining harmless family romp (never mind the one fart joke), credit to the Canadian and Quebec filmmakers.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EV5OpotW6S8

Movie Review: SNOWTIME! (Canada 2015) *** Directed by Jean-François Pouliot

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showtimeSNOWTIME! (Canada 2015) ***
Directed by Jean-François Pouliot

Starring: Angela Galuppo, Mariloup Wolfe, Lucinda Davis

Review: Gilbert Seah

LA GUERRE DES TUQUES (3D) is the highest grossing Canadian film of 2015. But almost no one in English Canada has heard of it. As the saying goes in the film industry, French Canadians see French Canadian films but English speaking Canadians do not see Canadian films at all – French or Canadian. So, it would be appropriate then to dub the French animated feature into English complete with an English title SNOWTIME! as if the original never existed.

But when the film, a delightful kids fantasy set in real life progresses, it becomes apparent that the film is very Quebecois despite the fact that all the character are speaking English. Even the names of the leads Luke and Sophie sound French (Luc et Sofie). The setting is a little village, snow covered, the typical seen in pictures of Quebec, which one kid calls the best village in the world. And he and the other kids believe it too.

The animated feature is based on and is an animated version of the 1984 family film THE DOG WHO STOPPED THE WAR (French title LA GUEREE DES TUQUES, no change here).
This review is based on the 3D English version.

The film centres on a group of children, led by Luke (Nicholas Savard-L’Herbier in the French version, Angela Galuppo in English) and Sophie (Mariloup Wolfe in French, Lucinda Davis in English), who plan and stage a giant snowball fight during the Christmas holidays. The story is unimportant. The fact that all the children appear to be having a fine time at war is all that matters. Until someone loses an eye – or a dog is hurt, as in the case of this film. As in most children’s films, SNOWTIME! is one centred around the children. There are no adults around. The kids behave like adults mostly, dealing with issues such as acceptance, loyalty, friendship and chivalry, elements that make a good family or children’s tale. This is a delightful Canadian film, quite unlike Disney expensive blockbuster animated features like FROZEN. Still, there are a few catchy tunes like “You are My Sweater” (whatever that means, I have no clue) performed at the end credits.

The 3D effects are well done with lots of snowy stuff tossed out of the screen at the audience. The village looks very Christmassy and the film has an overall warm and fuzzy atmosphere despite the ‘war’ setting.

The humour is mild at best. It is not overtly hilarious or extremely goofy, characteristics of most animated features these days. Getting brain freeze from drinking milkshakes or changing the odds of winning during an arm wrestling match are examples of the kind of humour found in the film.

The result is a rather mediocre entertaining film. The plusses of the film include the gorgeous animation on the screen, better bang for the buck that the multi million dollar products churned out by the Hollywood studios. At least Canadians can say this is our animated feature. It is up against strong competition like NORM OF THE NORTH and KUNG FU PANDA 3.

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