Winter Break (2002) / Comedy-Romance
aka Sheer Bliss
aka Snow Job
MPAA Rated: R for language, sexual situations and some drug use
Running Time: 98 min.
Cast: Milo Ventimiglia, Maggie Lawson, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Eddie Mills, Justin Urich, Rachel Wilson, George Lazenby
Director: Mani Banack
Screenplay: Mark Botvinick
Think American Pie without nudity, crudeness, or laughs. Yes, you can spend time with a bunch of knuckleheads up at ski resort country, chasing tail and drinking beer. You've seen it all before, but rarely has it been this devoid of anything fresh or memorable, you should be careful you don't accidentally rent it again.
Basically, Milo (Cursed) is Matt, a recent college grad who gives up a sure-thing job up in Buffalo to spend a year or so goofing around and partying with his old college chums at their house in Aspen, Colorado. They snowboard, they ski, they drink, they get laid. Matt wants Michelle (Lawson), but she's got a successful boyfriend. The rest you should easily figure out.
For much of the running length, I was mystified as to the motivations of almost every character in the film, who spent a great deal of time idolizing a lifestyle that would lead you to believe they couldn't afford to maintain. Then the romance angle factors in, and what was a passable college goof-fest turns into one of the least convincing cinematic attempts at courtship this side of Anakin and Padme. Matt's character is given almost no personality whatsoever, so when sweetheart Michelle has a hard time deciding between generous, loving boyfriend Tom and jobless, drip Matt, it becomes an exercise in forced romance and artificial sweetness. The only laughter in the whole film came from watching a guy with no real charm keep shoving the girl's favorite childhood book in her face whenever he wants to get on her good side, in place of real heartfelt dialogue and feelings.
Winter Break does have a likeable cast, good locale work, and a nice soundtrack, though, so if you have a very modest threshold for entertainment, you might not be too off-put as the sights and sounds go by. Most viewers, however, will probably shut it off before 30 minutes roll by, since it's so predictable, the remaining 60 minutes is merely watching what you could have guessed would happen from the outset. With a few good gags and more appealing characters, there could have been some worthwhile viewing here, but this script seems like pages ripped out of many other screenplays, and not particularly good ones at that.
©2003 Vince Leo