A few months ago while sitting in the theater for what might have been GI Joe or some such other messy summer blockbuster, the wife and I originally saw a preview for Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.
My wife excitedly shouted that she remembered that book from when she was a kid. She couldn’t believe they were finally making a movie out of it.
I was at a loss. I’d never heard of such a book. I was raised primarily on Dr. Seuss and kinda skipped right into the “young adult” literature from there. Totally not gloating, but I had an advanced reading level and was sorta coaxed to avoid the typical 20- to 30-page books that most young kids were into at the time, so I probably missed that one.
From the sight of the preview, the movie looked to be nothing more than the average children’s animated movie. Ridiculous premise, ensemble cast, dumb jokes, the usual. Not something which would make me cry if I missed it.
Still, it was an animated movie. As a former computer animation student and continuing cartoon junkie, there was a little part of me that still wanted to see it. I couldn’t really resist, either, because my wife expressed interest in seeing it and she so rarely actually wants to see animated movies with me that I usually end up catching them when they’re on one of the movie channels. At least that way I don’t have to pay for the mediocrity that is most of the recent animated movies not done by Pixar.
That being said, I was absolutely floored by Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. From beginning to end, this movie was shockingly funny and entertaining.
We follow the story of inventor Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader), a man-child still trapped partially in his own imagination, as he strives to create something that will make a difference in the world.
After numerous busts, he comes up with a device that will change water into food. Due to a lack of power at his home preventing his invention from fully working, he attaches some jumper cables between his machine and a high-voltage transformer. When the machine takes off into the sky like a rocket, he is convinced that he had completely failed.
However, once the machine starts to convert the moisture in the air into “food weather”, he realizes that his invention is a success.
His small town of Swallow Falls, a burnt-out rust-belt metaphor as the former Sardine Capital of the World, is saved when the mayor realizes that they can market the town as a major tourist destination.
Of course, from here, mayhem ensues.
What sounds like a fairly simple plot actually hides some awesomely comedic sub-stories. From Lockwood’s budding romance with Weather Channel intern Sam Sparks (Anna Faris), to Flint’s relationship with his old-school father Tim (James Caan).
Other spectacular performances include the ever-expanding Mayor (Bruce Campbell), an arrogant Weather Channel Anchorman (Al Roker, hilariously enough) and Flint’s pet techno-enhanced monkey Steve who speaks through a thought-translating talk box (and is voiced in surprisingly high-pitched and unrecognizable fashion by Neil Patrick Harris).
It turns out to be a wonderfully well-rounded, clean, family comedy which doesn’t fall into the classic “family comedy” traditions of over-employing slapstick or relying solely on kid-style toilet humor.
I was surprised at how well written this movie was. There was that perfect balance of youthful and more mature jokes which all good kids movies and television shows employ to keep both kids and parents interested. At times, it seems like it’s more of a movie for the parents than it is for the kids, but I suppose that’s also the mark of a great family film. It’s got something for everyone.
It was a short movie, so it’s a short review. Suffice it to say that, if you’re interested in seeing a good clean flick, get out to the theater and watch this one. ESPECIALLY in IMAX 3D.
This was my first experience with the newer 3D technology and it was absolutely fantastic. Very absorbing and it leaves tons of room for the classic old 3D gags, which are employed quite expertly throughout this flick. So much so that, I dare say, it may not be worth seeing unless you can get the full on 3D experience.
Bidula’s Last Word – 9/10. It loses one just for being a kids’ movie, because I’m a dick like that. Just can’t bring myself to give a kids’ movie the whole 10. If it wasn’t for Up, this would be a front-runner for best animated feature hands down.
Just don’t go to the theater for the next two days, if you’re local. Bad juju out there with these G20 protests. I won’t say anything more about that unless asked. Trust me, I have a nasty rant ready to go.