Wednesday, 28 May 2014

"Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs" on BLU RAY – A Review Of The 2009 Animation Classic

Here is a link to Amazon UK to get this BLU RAY at the best price:

"…Recipe For Success…" – Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs on BLU RAY

"Have you ever felt like you were a little bit different?"

It took nearly three years to bring 2009's "Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs" to the big screen - and after watching 86 minutes of its digitally realized anarchic genius - I can safely say it was money well spent. Not only is Columbia/Sony Animation Pictures baby a visually sumptuous watch - it's properly funny for its entire duration, genuinely touching when it needs to be and endlessly inventive in both character and dialogue. It also boasts something rarer than a conscience in the UKIP party - a moral centre that's not stylized schlock - but a story that's loaded with pressing observations about avarice in our increasingly chubby consumerist society. All this and it's effortless cool too. The audience was both smiling and applauding when the credits rolled in our cinema.

Flint Lockwood (voiced to perfection by Bill Hader) is a nerdy school kid - always inflicting his scatological inventions on his parents, his classmates and the good townsfolk of Swallow Falls - a tiny island situated on the map beneath the 'A' on Atlantic. Swallow Falls is the Sardine Capitol of the World - a town that lives on and off the shiny oily silver mites - and Flint's Dad (of Tim's Sardine Bait & Tackle Shop) is proud of it. Flint's father is hard working for sure but since Mom died 10 years back has become safe and unadventurous and prone to mumbling fish metaphors that don't make any sense (a stunning turn by James Caan).

Dad also lives in terror of his son creating yet another 'disaster' like his tin of Spray-On Shoes (to solve the epidemic of untied shoelaces) or his genetically mutated RatBirds (rats with wings that steal kids lunches), his Hair Un-Balder Potion (that produces a woolly mammoth of a man's skull instead of an even rug) or his Monkey Thought Translator Machine. But these are the least of the town's problems - because soon the world discovers that 'Sardines Are Super Gross' - and all life in Swallow Falls goes grey and into terminal decline...

Now grown up - Flint is in his homemade computer hub situated in the Water Tower above a Porta-Dump cubicle in the garden. With his official lab coat on (given to him by his Mom) and with his trusty pet monkey Steve by his side (spouting monosyllabic words through the thought translator) - Flint's working furiously on his ultimate invention - a device that will win back the town and make him beloved of everybody. It's a 'Flint Lockwood Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator' - a device that will turn water into any food you want. "Calibrating flavour patterns, radiation matrix secure, uploading cool machine voice..." Flint enthuses as he slaps the keyboard again - his huge bug eyes bulging with madcap inventiveness as he gazes at his dietary lunar-lander.

Meanwhile - the fame-hungry Mayor of Swallow Falls (a fabulously sly voiceover by Bruce Campbell of The Evil Dead and Bubba Ho-Tep fame) tries to reignite interest in the town by opening a boring theme park called SARDINE LAND with Baby Brent as it's star attraction (a child who used to be on every Sardine tin but is now a dumb boor with a huge midriff). The scheming Mayor gingerly tells the gathered populace "without consulting anyone, I've spent the entire town's budget on this thing..." But again an over-enthusiastic Flint ruins everything. Needing 17,000 Mega gigajoules to get his machine to work - he plugs into the island's power grid and wrecks the whole stage show. To make matters worse - a cute and super-perky WNN Weather Channel Intern called Sam Sparks (great vocal work from Anna Faris) has come to town with Manny her pint-sized cameraman to report on the island's re-launch. But along with a humiliated Dad Tim - she watches the mayhem of yet another Flint 'disaster' - Swallow Falls loses its 'F' (along with everything else) and Flint's rocket-propelled food maker disappears upwards into the sky. A mortified Flint hides down by the Docks with his pet monkey Steve...

But then something magical happens - up in the atmosphere - the chugging device is sucking in clouds and starts to spit out slices of cheese and cucumber and then a bap - and the next thing you know it's raining fully-formed cheeseburgers on Swallow Falls. Now realizing that BIGGER IS BETTER - the Major wants Flint to run the machine three-times-a-day for 30 days until the cruise ships arrive and Swallow Falls conquers national TV as a culinary pig-out destination.

In the meantime Flint's new machine becomes food-request central for the locals - Eggs, Toast, Orange Juice, Bacon, Ice Cream, Fudge, Jelly Beans. Cue jokes about "...poultry in motion..." and " may have seen a meteor shower, but you never seen a story meatier than this!" And the gastronomic overload is kept in check by a 'DangeOMeter' in Flint's lab that will tell him if things are getting out of mutating hand. But of course they do. Greed begins to take over - and soon a spaghetti twister is sucking up the buildings and children and a 'Vegas All You Can Eat' food storm brought on by the hideously bloated Mayor threatens to engulf every major city in the world unless Flint can stop the gluttonous madness...

The voices of Mr. T as Earl the Town policeman and Andy Samberg as Baby Brent add hugely to the great fun set pieces - but it's Hollywood veteran James Caan with his furrowed eyebrows and croaky mumble who actually steals the show. His speech to his son Flint at the end of the film is both funny and emotional - a wonderfully written double whammy for a cartoon.

And the visuals are of course fabulous. Not only does the food look good enough to eat - there's over 50 different kinds portrayed with mouth-watering detail - a Nacho Cheese Hot Spring, A Marshmallow Warehouse, an Anti-Gas Tablet Shop, Mouth Funnels to catch the food as it falls from the sky. The massive pancake, butter knob and syrup that dollops on an entire house - is stunning to look at. A cherry lands on top of a leftovers food mountain and the damn holding it all back finally bursts...

The 'making of' featurettes show you how the scenes are built up and the painstaking details applied - how to make an olive crush a building - what does a banana look like when its rolling down a street - how a burger in a bap falls apart when it hits the ground - how do you capture the texture and colour of Flint and Sam romancing in a giant Jell-O Castle...

Audio is DTS-HD Master Audio: English 5.1 with an English Audio Descriptive Track - while Subtitles are in English For The Hard Of Hearing and Hindi.

Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller and adapted by Rob Greenberg from the Judi and Ron Barrett children's book of the same name - "Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs" was put onto BLU RAY in early 2010 as a 'Combi Pack' with the DVD (and in a snazzy card slipcase). A 'Cloudy 2' sequel appeared in cinemas September 2013 and the BLU RAY for that came out in February of this year.

"The world needs your originality Flint..." his mother tells him. I agree.

In 2014 - you can pick it up the first movie for under a fiver in the UK. And I'd argue that this is one hydro-genetic mutated chow-down you should definitely find room for in your mental restaurant.
Pass the Strawberry Ripple...

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