The true story of a young couple and their five-month-old son who survived a week stranded in the snow was the basis for this interesting, if seldom compelling, 1994 made-for-television film. The film was released to home video in 1998.
Young marrieds Jim (Neil Patrick Harris) and Jennifer Stolpa (Kelli Williams) spend Christmas with his mother Muriel (Susan Clark) and her husband Kevin (Michael Gross). The visit is interrupted when Muriel gets a call that her mother has had a heart episode; by the time she gets there, her mother
has died. Wanting to comfort her, Jim gets five days leave from his army base and borrows a truck from Jennifer's brother so that they and their son Clay can drive the 1000 miles to the funeral in Idaho. When the main route is blocked by a snowstorm, they take an alternate route, choosing not to
tell Jim's parents so as not to worry them. After taking the noisy chains off the trucks tires so that the baby can sleep, a wrong turn leaves them stuck in snow on an untraveled mountain road. After a few days, they decide to walk 18 miles to the next town. Meanwhile, after finding the police
unwilling to launch a search effort, Kevin uses his experience as a sports publicist to rally a public effort to find the Stolpas.
An exhausting walk brings the Stolpas to the realization that they are lost. After resting for the night in a cave, Jennifer is still unable to walk. Jim decides to retrace his steps to the truck and walk the 40 miles back to the previous town while Jennifer waits with Clay. The walk takes several
days. Rescuers guided by Jim's directions retrieve mother and child just before another major blizzard. Clay survives, and while Jim and Jennifer lose portions of their feet to frostbite, both fulfill a promise to walk on the beach with Clay on his first birthday.
While the ordeal endured by the real-life Stolpas (who are seen in the film's closing shot) was undoubtedly terrifying, it's not all that dramatic, at least not as presented in SNOWBOUND. Given that this was made for television, it's entirely possible that some things were toned down a bit for a
family audience--the film isn't as exploitative as it might have been. (There are two exceptions, both involving baby Clay, when the viewer is led to suspect that the infant may be dead or injured, and both are unforgivably manipulative.) Because not a whole lot happens to the characters for long
stretches, scripter Jonathan Rintels wisely chose to focus on the emotional aspect of a couple, already facing doubts that they may be too young to have started a family, confronting what appears to be a failure in their responsibilities. Effectively photographed in and around Vancouver, SNOWBOUND
features good performances and is well paced, though it may be a bit grim for younger viewers. (Adult situations.)
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- Released: 1998
- Rating: NR
- Review: The true story of a young couple and their five-month-old son who survived a week stranded in the snow was the basis for this interesting, if seldom compelling, 1994 made-for-television film. The film was released to home video in 1998. Young marrieds Jim… (more)