Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Redbox Saga: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

Where I work, I'm fairly close to a pair of Redboxes, and so I've noticed a general trend in how the week's new movies are handled. Generally, The Redbox Guy (RBG) will show up anytime between Friday and Monday to put in the new discs, take out old ones, and shuffle the little movie posters around (is there a word for that?) so that the newest DVDS are right above the Redbox kiosk itself and the others are in some kind of random order on a display case next to it.
Naturally, when it was getting close to the release date for Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, I kept an eye out to see when the RBG would show up. It turned out to be one of those weeks when he didn't come until Monday evening, so he was still at work when I was leaving. I kind of wanted to ask him if I could see the Cloudy DVD, but I figured there are probably rules against that. When I went into work the next day, though, I was very surprised to see that he hadn't changed any of the little posters (or the upcoming movies sheet), which worried me a little bit, since most people make their decisions on what to rent based on the displayed posters, even though there are many more movies inside the kiosk. Especially kids. But I was happy to see that despite no notice of it being inside, people were renting Cloudy. (I, meanwhile, attempted to buy the 2-disc w/mystery exclusive DVD at Walmart, but had no luck, so I settled for getting it at Target, where it came with a teeny tiny version of "The Tasty Tale of Chewandswallow." The mystery exclusive turned out to be an umbrella that reveals food when it rains.)
The following week, RBG didn't come until Monday again, and yet again he didn't put up new posters (or even the old ones from the previous week), but he did put a poster for Cloudy in the Featured Movie slot, which made me happy, anyway. Finally, for this week, the guy came on Friday and put up all the new posters that hadn't been put up before, including one for Cloudy down in a prime location in the kids' section (the two rows closest to the ground). Of course, now there's the problem of there not being enough copies of the movie to go around. I check every now and then during my shift, and it makes me feel good to see that it isn't there, since that means all the copies are checked out, but at the same time I feel bad for whoever might be coming next to try and rent it.

As for the actual DVD, it both brings me great joy and vexes me at the same time, though not for the same reasons. I'm very happy to actually have the movie on DVD, so I can go through it frame by frame if I so desire, and easily get screenshots of the exact shot I want (you'll be seeing the fruits of that soon), and the supplemental features on the second disc are very good, too, especially the "Recipe for Success" featurette and the voice actor spotlight.
What vexes me, though, is not what's on the DVD, but rather, what isn't. When the DVD was announced, the special features were, too, and the things I was looking forward to the most were the Extended Scenes and the Early Development Scenes. Especially the extended scenes, since the Junior Novelization is full of such scenes, but from what I've seen in the Art and Making of book, there's plenty of good material available for the Early Development scenes. But the actual DVD has only two of each. On the Extended side, there's a short bit that was cut out of Flint, Sam, and Manny's trip in the elevator, which I could have done without, really, and a longer section of the Spaghetti Twister that includes a foodfight between Flint and the Mayor (which was pretty much a given to be included). But I really would have preferred to see more, especially if it was something that wasn't in the junior novelization or the various animation reels on youtube (most of which have been collected here).
On the Early Development side, there's a nice scene of Flint writing to Vance LaFleur, cataloging some of both of their achievements, and a different version of the spaghetti twister. Now, since I have the Art and Making of Book, I didn't need any explanations, but it might have been nice for there to be some kind of introduction to the scenes for those who don't have/can't afford the book. In lieu of that, here's a bit of explanation: In one version of the story, Flint was trying to get into the Science League, run by Vance LaFleur, who (among other things) saved the world from giant ants. Toward the end of the movie, Flint would realize that he was meant to stay in Swallow Falls, and that his hero had actually created the giant ants in the first place (and had a rather cavalier attitude about it). The second clip doesn't need that much explanation, except that Sam is there reporting on the opening of a hotel, which was a dropped element (it looked like an inverted pyramid with a million rooms, and from what I can tell, it was going to serve the same purpose as the dam). Both are fine scenes, but as I said, I was hoping for more than just two. I kind of would have liked to see the scene described in the Art and Making of Book with the jukebox guy, but that's probably just me.
I was also sort of hoping that the DVD would explain just what was planned for Brent in the Ice Cream Snow Day scene. The Art and Making of Book includes a shot of him in a sequence of color keys for that scene.
Upon further inspection, Brent is actually in that scene in the finished movie, but only at the very end, when the camera starts to pull out. I've circled him to make it easier to find him.
So yeah, it makes me wonder whether or not there was going to be more to his appearance in that scene, or what. I didn't really think that I'd get an answer, but one can always hope.
The commentary (the director/writers and Bill Hader) really didn't shed as much light on the story development as I would have liked, but it was still fun and informative. For instance, I never noticed that when Flint goes to replace the fuse near the beginning of the film, he's singing the music that was playing in the background of the previous scene. And when Brent becomes Chicken Brent, the music that plays is an orchestral version of the Baby Brent Sardines jingle. But there's also a lot of Bill saying "I voiced this with Anna in the same room." So yeah.
Anyway, the movie itself is very awesome, and even if the special features don't always live up to my (admittedly rather high) expectations, I still think it's worth getting the 2-disc DVD. The Blu-ray version also has the option of throwing food at the screen while watching the movie, although only on certain players, or so I've heard.

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