On one of the many, many rainy days this week, my girls and I snuggled up on the sofa to watch Cleo – called Snowtime! in some zones – the new movie from Universal.
Cleo is a heartwarming, touching, and kind of sad-story-with-a-happy-ending animation about friendship. There’s a large cast of boys – it being a boy-infested town, after all – and just one girl, with two new-comers to the town at the start of the story.
****** You can read the spoiler free description here but this post is about the story and as such contains some spoilers:******
The movie starts off on the last day of school, and within minutes the children are on winter break and bored, bored, bored. Frankie wants to build a fort and suggests a snow ball war, with bugle playing Luke as one of the generals.
An argument about the rules, the teams and territories lead to a fight between the friends, which inadvertently decides the two teams. New girl in town Sophie becomes the opposing general when she’s drawn into a fight by the persistent other army.
Frankie and his team of three build the most amazing snow fort. It’s rather epic, complete with hi-tec surveillance.
After completion of the fort, ‘peace-loving Nicky’ comments “war is not fun” before slinking off away. He is the only detractor, not interested in the war games. He is also the only one that talks about the fact that Luke’s dad died in a war.
A love interest sparks between the two opposing generals, when none of their armies are around.
On the second day of the “war”, a misunderstanding between the two factions leads to extreme escalation of events. Snow balls turn into ice balls, and then suggestions of cement balls, until the retaliation for the anticipated ice balls is paint filled snow balls and an ambush with giant snowballs.
After this initial victory, a fight breaks out between the team defending the fort, causing them to abandon their posts, and the remainders are easily overrun by the invaders, who dance, jive, boogie and moon walk through their victory song. Nicky joins the inhabitants of the fort for hot chocolate, but when the fighting starts, he saunters off in a cease-fire arranged just for him.
Sophie infiltrates the fort and steals the invaders’ flag,mending the rift in her army. And for the invaders, victory isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and soon they find themselves bored again,
Nicky comes across a trap in the woods, and decides to ‘prank’ his friends into uniting over a common cause – his inury at the hands of a bear trap. He gets them all together, then gets them to make peace, during which they realise that guard duty is boring, and war is boring.
The two opposing generals end up kissing… which leads to another fight and the war is back on. During this final battle the fort is damaged, leading to Cleo’s death.
During the funeral, Luke plays the military funeral song, and the children become reunited, dramatically demolishing the remains of the fort – tearing down the walls that separate them.
What we loved about Cleo
This movie is a lot of fun, and does give you heart smiles. I’m jealous of their fort building abilities, but that aside, there’s the farting dog, the slobbering dogs and the faceplanting mishaps that happen that makes children giggle and laugh, so that’s always a good start.
It does have the tear jerking qualities, with a death, and there are strong war themes throughout, making it a very cutely camouflage commentary on war – not that that’s necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not-so-subtly, definitely there.
What we didn’t like about Cleo
“Didn’t like” is a strong phrase for what’s essentially a good film, but I did think the trash talk and the war cries were quite harsh and graphic compared to the pitch of the rest of the film.
My girls also did point out that after this scene, the boys were litter bugs, since they left their milkshake cups where they were sitting.
Cleo reminded us of…
There isn’t really anything for kids that I can relate this to, although I thought of the Lorax in some of the characterisations and ‘wisdoms’ spouted at various times – normally from anti-war Nicky. There are many war movies on TV though – swap out the browns of Afghanistan and Iraq for the wintery town in the movie, and you’ll find many similar themes in them.
The major themes of Cleo were…
- The fickleness of human nature, with the kids turning on each other and flip flopping against each other.
- The movie never really talks about real wars, but it does introduce the subject.
- A big point of it was how making a decision on baseless facts can be the wrong decision and can have dire consequences. Also, how miscommunication or jumping to conclusions does the same.
- There’s also the fact that Cleo’s disobedience put her in the wrong place at the wrong time, causing her accident .
Favourite quotes from Cleo
It’s just a war – there’s no reason to hurt anyone!
A day without war is a victory for peace.