Friday, September 27, 2013

Is Joseph Gordon-Levitt Really Leading-Man Material?

Posted By on Fri, Sep 27, 2013 at 10:46 AM

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Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 movie cartoon
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2: The animation boom of the past five years hasn't really resulted in a greater number of high-quality mainstream cartoons than the pre-boom years. Though every major studio but professional half-timers Paramount now releases at least one cartoon per year, the metric is pretty much the same: Pixar movies will probably be very good; Disney Proper movies will probably be pretty or very good; one out of every two or three DreamWorks cartoons will be solid; the rest, meh (unless Aardman or Laika slips one past the gatekeepers). The situation is such that I almost didn't bother to see the first Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs when it hit in 2009; it looked like just another amplification of a children's book that didn't need the extra volume. But I eventually caught a double feature in Paris (!) with the then-unreleased-in-US stop-motion cartoon Mary and Max, and I was surprised by how charming I found this, yes, loud, but also silly and funny cartoon.

Lots of mainstream animation either chases Pixar and Disney by tugging insistently on heartstrings, or chases Looney Tunes by having everyone chatter and run around and smack into each other; Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs can lay no claim to equaling even a second-tier 90 minutes of Looney Tunes, but it does have some of that silly energy that a lot of DreamWorks stuff converts into empty dialogue. Phil Lord and Chris Miller of the short-lived MTV cartoon Clone High wrote and directed it, then switched to live-action for 21 Jump Street before moving back to animation for a Lego movie coming out next year (which looks surprisingly funny; their MO seems to be making good studio comedies based on materials that should not make for good studio comedies). The sequel's new directors Kris Pearn and Cody Cameron have more standard animation-world work on their collective CV, so I have no idea if this unnecessary follow-up will make a similar surprise. But the character designs are appealing, and I can't say I didn't laugh at many of the food puns in the trailer.

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