Creating a storybook atmosphere is largely an exercise in omission, the avoidance of timely references and real-life grit. One of the biggest omissions in Snowtime! is the presence of adults; you only see children populating its idealized mountain village. The other is genuine childhood. It’s less recalled than imitated here, with broad stereotypes and comic hyperbole in place of relatable observations — the kids don't just build a snow fort; it's a snow castle with turrets, rapid-fire snowball machine guns and an improbable escape-pod roller coaster, writing as cute as it is lazy. Based on a Quebecois short film called La guerre des tuques (The Dog Who Stopped the War), the film relates a winter break during which a group of children divide into two factions for a series of snowball fights they characterize as a "war." The negligible tension in this extremely low-stakes plot is further reduced by the lack of a villain. Everything is nice! Co-directors Jean-François Pouliot and François Brisson progressively heighten the scale of the battles, but the emotional tenor is pitched at innocence and fun. The filmmakers attempt a transition toward a more bitter rivalry, but they just don't have the heart to make this children's war ugly. Every action, fusillade of snowballs, tipped ladder and sudden avalanche climaxes in cartoony slapstick. So when an unexpected tragedy results — which you can look up on the website doesthedogdie.com — the kids learn a harsh lesson about the reality of war that their behavior never warrants. The moment is like a ship's anchor tied to a buoyant pool floatie.