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SONY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Phil Lord, Chris Miller
Cast:
Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Andy Samberg, Bruce Campbell, Mr. T, Bobb'e J. Thompson, Benjamin Bratt, Neil Patrick Harris, Al Roker
Writing Credits:
Judi Barrett (book), Ron Barrett (book), Phil Lord, Chris Miller

Tagline:
Prepare To Get Served.

Synopsis:
When Flint Lockwood's (Bill Hader) latest contraption accidentally destroys the town square and rockets up into the clouds, he thinks his inventing career is over. Then something amazing happens as delicious cheeseburgers start raining from the sky. His machine actually works! But when people greedily ask for more and more food, the machine starts to run amok, unleashing spaghetti tornadoes and giant meatballs that threaten the world! Now it's up to Flint, with the help of weather girl Sam Sparks (Anna Faris) and Steve, his talking monkey assistant, to find some way to shut down the machine before the world is covered in super-sized meatballs!

Box Office:
Budget
$100 million.
Opening Weekend
$30.304 million on 3119 screens.
Domestic Gross
$122.650 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.35:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
Spanish

Runtime: 90 min.
Price: $39.95
Release Date: 1/5/2010

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary With Writers/Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller and Actor Bill Heder
• Interactive “Splat” Button
• “A Recipe for Success: The Making of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” Featurette
• Music Video, Behind the Scenes and Interactive Singalong
• “Key Ingredients: The Cast of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” Featurette
• Extended Scenes
• Progression Reels with Introductions by Visual FX Supervisor Rob Bredow
• “Flint’s Food Fight Game”
• Previews
• DVD Copy


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs [Blu-Ray] (2009)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 1, 2010)

Adapted from a popular children’s book, 2009’s Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs offers a fanciful animated action-comedy. Ever since his youth, Flint Lockwood (voiced by Max Neuwirth as a child, Bill Heder as an adult) dreamed of becoming an inventor. Flint comes up with a multitude of devices, but virtually all of them suffer from fatal flaws. Take Flint’s spray-on shoes, for example; they work great, but you can never remove them.

Flint finally gets a chance to shine when he tries to reinvigorate his hometown of Swallow Falls. The economy was based on the sale of sardines, but eventually, the world wised up to the fact that those tiny fishes are pretty gnarly. This sends the town into a depression and also means the locals are stuck eating all those unsold sardines.

To brighten up their lives, Flint invents a device that turns water into food, and it initially becomes a great success. In fact, the gadget puts Swallow Falls on the map, as folks love to see Flint’s machine at work.

Alas, things take a wrong turn when Flint overworks his invention. It goes haywire and threatens to destroy the town with food gone wild. Along with weathergirl/prospective love interest Sam Sparks (Anna Faris) and others, Flint attempts to fix his device and save the day.

To call Cloudy a busy movie would be an understatement. The jokes fly at us fast and furious, and the movie almost never takes a breath. We find a constant stream of gags that make this a nearly relentless experience.

Normally I’d rebel at the sight of such an aggressive movie, but in this case, it actually succeeds. If half of the flick’s jokes worked, I’d still think it’s a fun piece, but the success rate is considerably higher than that. Unlike other manic movies like Airplane!, Cloudy hits the bulls-eye much more often than it misses.

That’s what makes the relentless pace tolerable. If Cloudy misfired with any regularity, its aggressiveness would become tiring and annoying. However, since so much of it delights, the hyperactive nature of the storytelling doesn’t grate.

A lot of that stems from the movie’s smartness. While clearly aimed at kids, Cloudy packs in many, many jokes meant for adults. The urchins can enjoy the basic humor of all the food-related segments, but the grown-ups can dig the sly references and clever details.

The latter abound. For instance, shots of Sam’s weather network feature good gags in the text crawl at the bottom of the screen. How can you not like a movie that throws away jokes like “tsunami warning in Wichita confuses many”?

I also appreciate the subtlety with which the movie handles its callbacks. We get many bits that refer to earlier elements, but Cloudy doesn’t telegraph these or beat us over the head with excessive explanation. The filmmakers assume we’ll remember the earlier references and don’t feel the need to remind us of what we saw. That’s unusual – and much appreciated.

Unlike most modern animated flicks, Cloudy avoids the all-star route. Granted, it includes known actors, but it doesn’t count on big names to attract an audience. While I don’t object to the presence of mega-stars in animated movies, I like the fact that this one doesn’t feel the need to sell itself with major names. Granted, it’s possible the producers wanted “A”-list actors but couldn’t afford them, but it still works for the best.

At no point does Cloudy turn into a deep movie; while it has its emotional themes, it focuses on wild antics most of all. And that’s absolutely fine with me. A few lessons are learned and plenty of laughs come along for the ride. Up is the most complete animated movie of 2009, but Cloudy is the most fun.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A-/ Bonus B

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Though consistently very attractive, the transfer wasn’t quite as perfect as I’d anticipate.

Sharpness was usually excellent, as most of the movie exhibited fine clarity and delineation. However, some wide shots looked a smidgen soft. These examples were far from being problematic, but I expected virtually flawless definition, and that didn’t occur; while I found a lot of stunning shots, these weren’t constant. No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, and edge enhancement was absent. Source defects also failed to materialize in this clean presentation.

Colors looked great. With its wide variety of foods, the movie boasted a broad palette, and the hues consistently came across as vivid and dynamic. Blacks were dark and dense, while shadows seemed clear and full. I wish the transfer had been a little more precise, but it was consistently quite good.

I also felt very pleased with the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Cloudy. An action-comedy that didn’t skimp on the “action” side of things, all of the food-related shenanigans ensured that the mix offered plenty of involving material. The chaos filled out the spectrum in an active, involving manner that created a lot of exciting audio.

All five channels featured plenty of unique elements, and they fit together in a fine manner. Even quieter scenes used the soundscape in a satisfying manner. Music featured nice stereo imaging, and we found plenty of localized dialogue.

Audio quality also was very good. Speech seemed crisp and distinctive, as I noticed no flaws like edginess. Music seemed warm and full, while effects added a real bang to the proceedings. Those elements showed good clarity and accuracy, and they offered tight, deep bass as well. The track seemed vibrant and dynamic as it accentuated the movie in a satisfying manner.

When we shift to the set’s extras, we start with an audio commentary from writers/directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller and actor Bill Heder. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific look at cast and performances, story/character issues, sound, visual and production design, score, adapting the original book, animation and effects.

The three participants mesh well in this enjoyable track. Yes, we find too much praise along the way, but we learn a fair amount about the production as well. The guys keep things light and lively as they make this a good discussion.

Something unusual shows up via the Interactive “Splat” Button. This allows you to select a variety of virtual foods and toss them at the screen. Why? I don’t know, but kids might enjoy making a fake mess.

Two featurettes follow. A Recipe for Success: The Making of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs goes for 10 minutes, 51 seconds and offers notes from Heder, Miller, Lord, producer Pam Marsden, visual effects supervisor Rob Bredow, effects animation lead David Davies, art director Mike Kuainsky, production designer Justin Thompson, digital effects supervisor Daniel Kramer, co-producer Chris Juen, and actor Anna Faris. “Recipe” looks at the source book and its adaptation, character and visual design, cast and performances, animation and the virtual set, and the work of the directors.

At no point does “Recipe” become especially deep. However, it throws out nice notes, particularly in terms of the technical processes. We get many nice shots of the animation components, and those help make this a useful piece.

We hear more about the actors in the 12-minute, 39-second Key Ingredients: The Cast of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. It includes remarks from Heder, Faris, Lord, Miller, and actors Andy Samberg, Mr. T, James Caan, Bruce Campbell, and Al Roker. The show looks at cast, characters and performances. Don’t expect much insight here. I like the glimpses of the recording studio, but otherwise the show doesn’t do much for me.

If you’re interested in singer Miranda Cosgrove – and honestly, isn’t everyone? – you’ll be happy with the next three components. We find a music video for Cosgrove’s “Raining Sunshine”. The song’s a fluffy pop confection; I can’t say I like it, but I’ve heard worse. The video’s fairly forgettable, though; it just combines bouncy shots of Cosgrove with movie clips, so it never becomes inventive.

The disc also includes a Singalong Version of “Sunshine” as well as Behind the Scenes of the music video. That clip lasts two minutes, 17 seconds, as it takes us to the shoot. Cosgrove throws in a few basic thoughts but we don’t learn anything here. It’s mostly an excuse to show more of the popular young performer.

Two Extended Scenes last a total of two minutes, 36 seconds. These include “Elevator Joke” (0:36) and “Twister – Early Cut with Awesome Food Fight” (2:00). Both are enjoyable, but I prefer “Elevator”; it’s quite funny, while “Twister” doesn’t really make the scene more effective.

In the same vein, we find two Early Development Scenes. We see “Flint’s Letter to Super Scientist Vance LeFleur” (3:03) and “Early Storyboard Version of Twister” (2:44). These show the sequences in storyreel form, so neither includes even basic animation. “Letter” acts as an alternate introduction to Flint and his inventions. It works okay, but the final film does it better. “Twister” offers what its title indicates: it depicts a different version of that sequence. Again, it’s enjoyable to see but not better than what we get in the completed flick.

Next we find five Progression Reels with introductions by visual FX supervisor Rob Bredow. These show the various stages of lighting, colors and other visual elements across eight minutes, nine seconds. We get a good look at these components as Bredow provides details. This is a quick but informative take on the subject matter.

Finally, we locate Flint’s Food Fight Game. This requires you to use the arrow buttons on your remote to target and shoot down various flying foodstuffs. The controls work poorly and this becomes an aggravating experience.

Finally, a second platter provides a DVD Copy of Cloudy . If you want to own Cloudy but aren’t yet Blu-ray capable, it’s a good option.

Based on its trailers, I expected a lowest common denominator kiddie flick from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. To my delight, the film actually offers a smart, clever experience with many laughs along the way. The Blu-ray provides very good picture and audio along with a decent roster of extras. Chalk up Cloudy as one of 2009’s most pleasant surprises.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.3 Stars Number of Votes: 10
65:
34:
0 3:
02:
11:
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main