“Let It Snow,” the latest John Green novel-to-film adaptation (originally a collaboration with authors Lauren Myracle and Maureen Johnson), is great in the way that cold pizza is great. It may not look good, taste good or go down very well, but the idea of it is casually spectacular. “Snow” leans so clumsily into its own clichés that the result is a charming holiday romance-fest that hides nothing about its eventual destination, but still manages to savor the journey along the beaten path.
Like the original source material, “Snow” is a euphoric display of adolescent hormones, an emulation and a caricature of teen years that resonates not despite its exaggeration, but because of it. When a particularly robust snowstorm hits a small, unnamed suburban town, the lives of several high schoolers become entangled with awkward sexual tension.
The writers hold nothing back, offering characters that fit precisely into every trope a viewer can imagine. Among a tapestry of main players, there’s Tobin (Mitchell Hope, “Descendants”), a shy dork who has been on the verge of admitting his love for his best friend for his entire life; Addie, (Odeya Rush, “Lady Bird”), a committed friend paranoid her boyfriend is cheating on her; Keon, (Jacob Batalon, “Spider-Man: Far From Home”), an aspiring DJ who will do anything to throw one great party for his friends; Stuart, (Shameik Moore, “Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse”), a popstar on tour who might just be ready to find love; and (most quizzically) Oscar-nominated Joan Cusack (“Toy Story 4”) as an unnamed, tin-foil-donning snow plower.
Once these pieces of the story are set, it’s hard not to enjoy the way they unfold, cross paths and explode against each other. In that way, “Snow” is like a rollercoaster whose entire trajectory is visible, but that doesn’t mute its angsty and harmless thrills. Conversations are stilted emotional gushes, often ending in sweeping declarations or stinging rebukes. As the blizzard picks up, emotions only run hotter. Friendships fracture and plans collapse. But the piercing, irresistible power of “Snow” is a viewer’s knowledge that everything will work itself out in the end.
“Snow” is the kind of movie that elicits laughter more frequently at its schlock than at the jokes in its dialogue. But laughter is laughter, and intentions aside, the film was substantially humorous.
Needless to say, “Snow” will not change the course of modern cinema. But then again, who cares? What the film achieves is pure and concentrated joy, a lazy removal from life’s problems. The characters deal with issues that are, for the vast majority, miniscule versions of actual obstacles, and to see them persevere is a simple and careless kind of pleasure. It is an experience that calls for some hot cocoa, a snowflake-patterned blanket, a couch that sinks down further than it should and curtains that block all afternoon sunlight from the windows.
Above all, “Snow” is a warm welcome to the holiday season. With a recent blanket of snow spread upon Ann Arbor’s streets and nose-diving temperatures that won’t recover until late spring, it might be exactly what you need now.