Why Haven’t You Seen…? Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

If you have seen, or subsequently see, any of the films featured on WHYS…? please use the comments or drop me an email at sam@multimediamouth.com to let me know what you make of the movies or the article. Thanks.

DIR: Phil Lord / Chris Miller

What’s It All About?
Failed inventor Flint Lockwood (voice of Bill Hader) finally makes something that works; a machine that turns water into food. Unfortunately an accident results in the machine being catapulted into the atmosphere, where it causes food to rain on Flint’s tiny island home. He becomes a hero to his town, suddenly a tourist magnet, and also begins to court budding weather reporter Sam Sparks (Voice of Anna Faris).

Why Haven’t You Seen It?
Well, actually this one made $243million at the box office, so you might have seen it, but for a film that turned that sort of cash, outside of the real cinephiles I know, the only people I know who have seen this have seen it because I sat them down and showed it to them. Perhaps people just dropped the kids off and left them to it, because, apart from its awful title, Cloudy also had a rather bland poster and a surprisingly unimpressive trailer.

Why Should You See It?
What’s tough to communicate in that What’s it all about section is just how much fun Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is, how jam packed it is with wonderful, hilarious offbeat weirdness. I almost skippedit at the cinema, writing off as ‘just some kid’s movie’, but then I heard Mark Kermode review it, and call it David Lynch for kids, which piqued my interest.

There are Lynchian moments, particularly the creepy sentient roasted chickens that attack Flint towards the end of the film, but for the most part the tone is more informed by the brand of surreality peddled by Monty Python and Looney Tunes. This isn’t just an animated film, it’s a cartoon, and it’s all the best things that that implies, watching it took me back to being five and six years old (and twenty five and twenty six years old, to be fair) and rolling around on the floor in gales of laughter at Bugs Bunny or Tom and Jerry.

I knew I was going to love Cloudy mere seconds in, when the first credit came up and read: ‘A Film By A Lot of People’, innocuous, sure, but a line that speaks both to a sense of humour and a respect for cinema; it told me I was in safe hands, and it made me laugh. Thereafter I don’t think I ever stopped laughing for more than 30 seconds in a row until the credits rolled. The laughs come from all quarters; from the subtleties of the animation (just watch Steve the Monkey in any shot he appears in) from the characters, the situation and from the dialogue and performances. I say it a lot, but performance in animation is a really underrated skill, and loudy is a brilliant demonstration of that skill with registers ranging from the very subtle (James Caan as Flint’s inexpressive Father) to the… less subtle (Mr T, priceless as the local cop). It’s also key component of why Cloudy works as movie rather than just a collection of jokes. Hader and Faris play well off one another and, while it’s obviously very broadly drawn, their characters relationship is also rather engaging, and as sweet as it is funny.

On the whole though, you need to see Cloudy because its hilarious. Everyone will have their favourite gags, be it Andy Samberg’s role as aging child model ‘Baby’ Brent, Bruce Campbell as the Mayor of Swallow Falls, or my favourite; Steve the Monkey. Neil Patrick Harris provides the voice for Steve (through Flint’s monkey thought translator), and though he’s a one joke premise, every single version of that joke has me doubled over with laughter. The script, more generally, is sharp and witty, with the dialogue complemented by an endless array of visual gags from Lord, Miller and their animators.

I usually like to talk about challenging movies in this feature, about things I know that, even when you get done reading, most of you aren’t likely to watch, because they are niche appeal films. This isn’t, it’s a shining example of mainstream cinema, and proof that mainstream American comedy filmmaking isn’t (quite) flatlining. I could go on and on about it, but if I do this article will just devolve into me repeating gags at you. I’d rather you just watched the film.

Standout Moment
So many, but this one of Flint introducing Sam to his machine just slays me every time. Hader’s delivery is just perfect here.

How Can You See It?
However you like, choose from special edition DVD, Blu Ray or 3D Blu Ray in Regions 1 or 2

Next Week
A New Zealand horror film that isn’t by Peter Jackson… THE UGLY. (Promise)