Now this is what I’m talking about! Let’s start on a high this time, Cloudy… is easily the best animated film I’ve seen this year. Saying that though, I haven’t seen Up yet… And the only other ones I’ve seen have been Ice Age (thoughts here) and Bolt, which I actually quite liked. So… er…yeah…
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is based on a book that Americans love (that I’ve never heard of) but doesn’t really take much more from the novel other than the name of the town and the idea of giant raining food. But hey, who needs original source material right? The film really doesn’t suffer for this and comes up with a real credible reason for this wacky premise – and don’t be fooled into thinking the film is ruled by the raining food idea, there’s a lot of intelligent character work going on here, with some fairly staple emotional goals to achieve and life lessons to learn. And indestructible spray on shoes. Naturally.
A few reviews I’ve read all raise the point (and not in a negative way) of how aimed at kids this film is. I couldn’t disagree more – the scripting is great throughout with sight gags and punchy dialogue as well as a particularly infectious lol-cat rap, all aimed at well above a child’s level of understanding. Sure the concept is a bit bizarre but to demean this to being a kid’s film is unjustified and wrong and stupid. So there.
Given my previous stance here, the voice acting was always going to be a bone of contention except that… in this case…it actually wasn’t. The voiceovers are handled at the very minimum competently and in most cases quite superbly. Bill Hader and Anna Farris both provide solid dependable performances in the lead roles, whilst James Caan and Bruce Campbell add some real credibility to the roster. The clear standout amongst the voice cast however, is Mr T. Interestingly though, rather than that being because his voice suited the character, it was more that the character suited his voice. There’s no doubt in my mind that upon scripting this there was no other actor in the writers’ minds who could’ve played Officer Earl Deveraux other than Mr T. The case remains though that there are a few big names in there for seemingly no reason. I was quite surprised to find out during the credits that the recurring bit part character of “guy with beard” was played by Neil Patrick Harris – something that had passed me by entirely. I still can’t quite get my head around the need for the cast to be flooded with Hollywood names, especially in roles that could have been handled just as competently by any standard voice actor.
The only thing I’ll really say against this movie is that the use of 3D feels fairly minimal. Coming to think of it I struggle to think of any real standout scenes that really made it worth paying those few quid extra – in fact the best use of 3D was in the trailer for Toy Story 3D (out Oct 2nd woo!). This isn’t a major dampener at all, and a lot of the 3D was done very competently, I just wouldn’t say that you’d particularly miss out if you only saw the 2D version.
Obviously you’ll know before going to see this, before reading this even, if you’re not going to like this film. Some people just can’t see past the title (and thus the film’s concept), others just can’t get out of the mindset that animated films are for kids. I really hope we get to the stage soon where animation attains the reputation that it has in Asia as a credible medium for storytelling, as it’s really disappointing to think this film might be tossed aside purely because of the two reasons noted above.
Whatever the weather, the people who dismiss this film are missing out. Cloudy… is a treat from start to finish, packed with fun characters, vibrant visuals and witty dialogue. It’s really refreshing to see a vivid, imaginative non animal-centric offering from someone other than Pixar – that’s not to say it’s the only one out there, but it is certainly one of the better ones.
Pixar take note, the others are gaining ground. Slowly for sure, but gaining all the same.