Thursday, October 15, 2009

Cloudy with a chance of a Review

By: Tyler Duddy
When you were a kid, you dreamed. You dreamt of a world full of giant pancakes, mashed potato snow and hamburgers falling from the sky. I know I had these visions and if you say you didn’t dream like this, then now is your chance to. Welcome to a world full of ice cream storms, spaghetti tornados and pea soup fogs. Welcome to Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
The movie is another case of a film idea taken from a book. I have had the book Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs for as long as I can remember and I actually happened to bring it with me to college. Beautiful hand-drawn images that spice up the story and really bring it to life, adjectives that will make anyone’s mouth water, and an ending that really hits home makes this book a classic that will forever find a spot on my bookshelf. So naturally I was a bit worried when I saw the trailer for the upcoming film. It looked a little lackluster and was made by Sony, a company not particularly noted for its animation superiority. I watched that trailer every few days studying the only three minutes of characterization, jokes, and plot line that I could get my hands on trying not to read too far into it and prematurely judge it without a proper screening. I toiled in my bed nightly hoping the directors wouldn’t stray too far from what I knew and loved. I failed senior year of high school because of the meatball drawings that littered my final exams, and I actually lost a girlfriend because I decided to test out my theory of a pea soup fog on her while she was sleeping.
While I was obviously not that excited for the movie release, I bought my ticket and stepped into the theatre on opening day to find that my guest and I were the only ones in a theatre meant to seat hundreds. While my logic wanted to take this as a cue to exit, my gut said otherwise. It proclaimed, “Tyler, this is something you have been waiting for, something you have been excited about since you jumped out of your seat in the theatre from when you saw the first trailer. This is something that deserves a chance”. I sat down and prepared for the worst.
I was immediately blown away by the beautiful animation and earth shaking sound effects. (I can’t comment on the 3D effects because I only saw it in 2D the three times I watched it). I was instantly pulled in by the captivating protagonist Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) and his sidekick Steve (Neil Patrick Harris). From the first thirty seconds into the movie until the end credits I was laughing. Now let this be said, I am not one to laugh at movies, I hate comedies and actually came home from my fourth grade class crying because I was the only one in the room that wasn’t laughing at the Peanuts. I can’t even count how many times I laughed out loud during the ninety minutes of flying food. The humor is pretty original and various, meaning it does not rely on slapstick, auditory or animation tricks too heavily to produce laughs. I would most closely relate it to the popular (or at least it used to be popular) web comic because of its outrageous voices and off the wall jokes, or you could say it resembles Gilmore Girls because in most of the scenes everyone talks so fast that it takes a few seconds for your brain to digest it before you laugh and figure out what just happened. I would say most of the funny parts I noticed came from either the randomness of the voices or the ridiculous one-liners.
I think the voices work so well in this movie because the actors are just doing what they do best. Mr. T (voicing Earl) for example is the in-your face tough guy we have all come to love, Andy Samberg (voicing Baby Brent) is the naive outrageous character we’re used to and Al Roker is the (you guessed it!) weatherman. I love this because the directors did a fantastic job of showcasing the abilities of the voice actors without exploiting them and making them the stars of the shows, or the draw of the audience. No one came to this movie just to see Andy Samberg wear a diaper and knock over a wagon full of sardines. The directors are not relying on one main actor or actress (Johnny Depp, Alice in Wonderland anyone?) to sell this movie. It is a joint effort and really works out that way because it is the interactions between the characters and their environments that make the movie so great.
The storyline strays from the book quite a ways, but the writers did this so well that even I even didn’t mind. You can tell that the crew really read this book and applied it to today, the movie is set now, and a lot of the book would not have made sense for today’s kids, and it seems that they figured this out early and wrote the script incorporating the main ideas and high points from the book, while still playing around with it enough to call it their own. I absolutely loved the conversion and would maybe even say I liked the film a bit more.
The music seemed to revolve around one leitmotif, which was okay because they toyed with it and added effects so it fit the situation and reflected the mood of the scene. They also added a few songs to liven up the particular moments, particularly the ice cream fight. But overall I would say the star of the star of the auditory world in this film would have to be the voice acting which shines bright throughout.
Overall this was definitely my favorite animated film of all time. With brilliant jokes and quick wit, this movie will truly make you laugh whether you make it to the final few showings at The Globe or pick it up on Blu-ray when it is released. This is a film of epic proportions so let’s pick it up and give it the recognition the crew worked so hard to deserve.

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