The SmarK DVD Rant for Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (Blu-Ray)
"Dad, you know I don’t understand fishing metaphors!"
In a world with Pixar, it’s sometimes easy to forget there’s other movie studios trying to put out quality product as well, and I think that was kind of the case for me here. The trailers for Cloudy looked liked another cutesy kids movie based on a book I had never heard of before, and as a result I never got around to watching it in the theater. My loss, I guess.
Bill Hader voices Flint Lockwood, a lifelong mad scientist wannabe who lives on the small island of Swallow Falls. It’s so tiny that it’s hidden by the "A" in "Atlantic", you see. Years of exporting sardines have collapsed when the rest of world realizes that "sardines are super gross" and thus everyone on the island is reduced to eating the leftover fish and struggling for survival. The mayor (brilliantly voiced by Bruce Campbell in full slimeball mode) decides to solve their economic woes by creating a theme park (Sardine-Land!), featuring the world’s biggest sardine among other questionable attractions. The one-person "splash zone" is a great gag there. Flint accidentally ruins the big unveiling by testing his new invention, a machine that turns water into food, and also humiliates up-and-coming weather reporter Sam Sparks (Anna Faris in her usual ditz goddess role). However, no one is more shocked than Flint when the invention actually works, and causes cheeseburgers to rain from the sky. The second act is fairly standard stuff, as Flint gets more popular due to his godlike powers, while at the same time alienating his simple fisherman father and growing closer to the mayor. And hey, what could possibly go wrong while messing with nature? GIANT FOOD, of course. The third act gets pretty silly and over-the-top, as our heroes journey to the center of a giant meatball to make things right, but it’s all in good fun.
I think the marketing for this movie was a bit off the mark, as it’s really a surprisingly clever and sharp bit of business (the snowball fight with socially-inept Flint is a good moment, not to mention the best joke in the movie about the monkey’s use of "chocolate ice cream"), which was somewhat narrowly marketed to kids only. It’s got Neil Patrick Harris as a MONKEY and Bruce Campbell as the slimy mayor! Why didn’t someone TELL me that? Also special kudos to James Caan for once again doing the heavy lifting as a repressed father to a man-child (see also: Elf). The silly setpieces ("That’s PEANUT BRITTLE!") and oddball characters (Mr. T as a cop in bicycle shorts) make this entertaining enough for grown-ups and kids alike. Recommended.
Audio & Video
The Blu-Ray looks stunning, as you can imagine with a computer-animated film like this one. Colors are vibrant and look terrific, in particular the scenes where the clouds cover the island and you can see every little detail. The home version isn’t presented in 3D like the theatrical one was, but that tends to take away from the picture quality on DVD anyway. Audio is equally strong, with the DTS soundtrack covering the room impressively and dialogue that is clear and loud without being overwhelming. An exceptional job of presentation by Sony!
This is my favorite new gimmick, as the Blu-Ray is packaged with a regular DVD version, so you can CHOOSE. Hallelujah! The BD also has a digital copy for the PSP on it, but you have to have a PS3 so I’m out of luck there. God bless Sony for corporate synergy, though.
Special features on the movie itself are plentiful, although mainly aimed at kids. You get the standard deleted scenes and commentary, as well as innovative BD features like "Splat Mode", where you can actually use the remote to throw food at the screen during the movie. Gotta say, that’s a LOT of fun. There’s also some behind the scenes stuff, and a weird amount of time spent on the music video for "Raining Sunshine" but the guess the chick is some kind of pre-teen idol so it’s to be expected.
I had a lot of fun watching this one and didn’t expect to, and that’s always the best kind of surprise. Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs is well worth a look for kids and animation fans in general.
Tags: Anna Faris, Bill Hader, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, James Caan, Neil Patrick Harris, SmarK Rant, SmarK Rants