Being surprised by a film happens less and less these days, with trailers and film blogs and the rest. Even with all the good things I had heard about Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, all I really knew about it or expected was another non-Pixar CG kids film. And so, Cloudy‘s abundance of humor and visual spectacle caught me off-guard in the best way possible.
Visually, Cloudy is as good as any of the best Pixar films, which have become the gold-standard. The characters are cartoons to be sure, but in a lively way, with elastic features and dinner-plate eyes. And the film’s action sequences are some of the best I’ve seen in an animated film. What’s exciting about animation is the limitless space these films have to work with, and Cloudy takes full advantage of that space. The scale of some of these scenes is genuinely staggering and the scenes themselves are an absolute blast to watch.
Still, despite being a treat for the eyes, it’s Cloudy‘s humor that surprised me the most. The standard for kid’s films these days is to show the whole family a good time, with jokes for kids and parents, but the humor in this script isn’t typical. Though Toy Story 3 or Shrek have their share of well-constructed jokes, Cloudy‘s sense of humor is much more inherent. Surely the casting helps, with nearly all the main performances coming from established comedians: Bill Hader, Anna Faris, and Andy Samberg. What’s most evident though is that this is a script devoted to humor first and foremost, and written by people who are surely funny in real life. While Pixar may have the market cornered on touching our hearts, perhaps Sony Pictures Animation can focus on our funny bones.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is, in addition to being a total blast for the family, a bona fide comedy and an indication that great computer-animated films aren’t the exclusive precinct of Pixar anymore.