Monday, September 21, 2009

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

I’ll admit, my expectations were about mid-level. Something along the lines of Kung Fu Panda. Cute, occasionally funny, and some brief moments of originality. But all in all, nothing particularly special.

And what a pleasure to be completely proved wrong. This movie was AWESOME! And not just from the perspective of a kids movie, but all in all a really great flick. We’re talking Pixar quality, people. That’s not an honor I like to hand out.

In fact, I never have before. No other computer animated movie, from any other production company, has ever come close to standing next to movies like Finding Nemo and Monsters Inc.

Until now.

The plot line is pretty simple. A kid named Flint (voiced by Bill Hader) who doesn’t fit in likes to invent things. Problem is these things he invents always seem to get him into trouble. One day, as a young man, he invents a machine that turns water into food. Things go haywire, the machine ends up in the sky, and it starts raining cheeseburgers. And so on.

But the magic of this movie isn’t in the story. It’s in the incredible attention to detail of packing humor into nearly every opportunity that presents itself. Like a poster of Nikola Tesla bearing the label: “Rockstar Scientist!” Or Flint’s constant single word narration of his progress montages: “Motivating!” “Researching!” “Painting!” Or just the little things, like the town’s cop (voiced by Mr. T) whose chest hair tingles whenever danger is a foot. You can’t help but laugh at stuff like that.

What really ties the movie together is the top notch animation. You really experience the range of emotions from a world where food falls from the sky. Who wouldn’t want to sit in a restaurant with no ceiling, hold out your plate, and wait? And when things go haywire, and the food gets giant, there’s a background of fear behind all the visual gags of giant meatballs and sushi rolls destroying one building at a time.

How close this movie was to the book, I couldn’t say. I did read the book, when I was like seven. So it’s pretty safe to say I don’t remember. But, whether or not it matters? That I can answer: No, it doesn’t. Because the movie is entertaining enough that you could really care less.

All I can say is that I hope movies like this are a coming trend. Silly, slapsticky, packed with jokes, and a whole lot of fun to watch. I don’t care if they are kids movies. If they’re good, they’re good. And I know I’ve talked about this before, but it really helps when the humor is self-contained rather than an incessant barrage of pop culture references that will be out of date in a couple weeks.

Should you go see this movie? Yes. Do you need a kid to go see it with you? No. You’ll find yourself laughing your ass off, one way or the other. Just like you did when you saw all those Pixar movies.

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