Benjamin Bratt

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Movie Review: Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2

Published October 10, 2013 by mrsrag

Starring the voices of:  Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Will Forte, Andy Samberg, Benjamin Bratt, Neil Patrick Harris, Terry Crews, Kristen Schaal, Khamani Griffin.

Rated: PG.  Animated.  Running Time: 1 hour 35 minutes.

 

My son Ethan (freshly turned 10 on Oct 2nd) had already seen Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, but asked if Maria and I would take him again, which was a very good sign.  Having seen the first one, and finding it quite mediocre, I can’t say I was doing cartwheels about going, but we went anyway.  The kid was right!  Not just better than the original, MUCH better.  Flint Lockwood (Hader) invented a machine that turned water into food.  In the first movie, everything was going along great on his island hometown of Swallow Falls until the machine runs amok (the food becomes enormous) and has to be shut down.  At the beginning of 2, Flint is about to embark on a new business venture with his love interest, meteorologist Sam Sparks (Faris) when we find out the aforementioned machine, is still working in the wilderness and creating horrible “foodimals” that are threatening to overrun the Earth.  The residents of Swallow Falls are evacuated to San Franjose, California.  Chester V (Forte), inventor, entrepreneur and Flint’s hero, has been enlisted to lead the effort to stop the machine and eventually needs help from Flint and his gang.  Also back from the first movie are: Flint’s pet monkey Steve (NPH), his bushy eyebrowed, sardine loving dad Tim (Caan), chicken suit wearing Brent (Samberg), police officer Earl (Crews) and his son Cal (Griffin) and Sam’s cameraman Manny (Bratt).  An eclectic group to say the least, Chester sends them back to the island, and this is where the movie really begins.  The “foodimals” and food puns steal the show.  There are tacodiles, watermelophants, shrimpanzees, bananostriches, and peanut butter and jellyfish, just to name a few.  We learn along the way that everything isn’t quite what it seems as pertains to who’s good and bad, but the dialogue flows smoothly and the jokes are clever and aplenty.  I had more laugh out loud moments at Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, than I’ve had at any animated movie in a long time.

This was the best animated feature we’ve seen since Wreck-It Ralph, which was released in November of 2012.  We’ve seen a slew of forgettable kids movies since then.  Like Ross, I wasn’t a fan of the first installment of this series either, but the sequel was awesome!  The puns were so bloody brilliant I found myself wishing that I had come up with them myself.  We had fun whispering our own bastardizations of the animal, food hybrids before the film identified them.  One of our favorite characters was Barry, a live strawberry that Sam Sparks smuggles out of one of the sketchy labs they encounter.  This adorable little fruity dude, has some of the most memorable lines and an addictive catch phrase.  When he first meets Flint he keeps looking at him and uttering, “En woo.”  All three of us had some good laughs and it’s always a good sign when Ethan wants to go see a movie again.  The storyline was also well done, incorporating the ground work laid by the first movie while heading in a new, exciting direction with the plot of the second.  It reminded me of the flawless transition that was achieved with the classic Toy Story trilogy.  I found the overall moral of the story great too.  The lesson that Flint had to learn was to appreciate and recognize his real friends.  His loyal brood accompanies him to the island and he starts to take their friendship for granted.

I love Bill Hader, he stole the show at the James Franco Roast we watched on Comedy Central recently.  He enjoys doing these voice characters, in addition to reprising his Flint Lockwood role, he’s had parts in Ice Age, Monsters University and Turbo.  It is Flint’s ambition, awkward genius and eventual growth that is at the center of Meatballs 2.  I’m not sure where I’d rank it among my all-time animated favorites, but most definitely would recommend you see it in the theater or when it reaches DVD.  So many memorable characters, Maria mentioned the talking strawberry Barry; look for a scene where Barry is interpreting Flint’s speech for the other “foodimals”.  Hilarious.  I also enjoy Flint’s dad Tim played by James Caan.  He has Eugene Levy-like eyebrows, and has his own adventure with some warrior pickles who share his love for sardines.  That last line is something isn’t it?  So is Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, a very pleasant surprise. 

I most certainly suggest catching this one in theaters.  We skipped the 3-D, which didn’t take anything away from how great it was.  I doubt it will be taking best animated feature of the year home (lots more of this genre to come during the holidays!), but the story is uplifting, heartwarming and seriously funny.  I believe adults will enjoy this one just as much as the kids!

 

Ross’ Rating: 4 out of 5 Gummy Bears.

Maria’s Rating: 4.5 Gummies.

  

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Movie Review: Despicable Me 2

Published July 11, 2013 by mrsrag

Starring the voices of: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Benjamin Bratt, Miranda Cosgrove, Russell Brand, Ken Jeong.

Rated: PG.  Animated/Comedy.  Running Time: 1 hour 38 minutes.

We’re back from our epic road trip, Florida to Maine and back.  We had a great time with stops including Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York.  We saw family and friends, went to a wedding, ate lobsters and drove – a lot.  Through it all Ethan was magnificent!  I’m positive you couldn’t find a 9 year old anywhere who could’ve taken all the driving better.  Anyway, while we were gone, we took a day and went to see Despicable Me 2.  One of our best decisions for sure.  It was at least as good as the original, maybe even better!  Bad guy turned good guy dad, Gru (Carell) is being courted by the AVL, Anti-Villain League, to help capture a powerful new criminal who is threatening the World.  Gru jumps at the chance to get “back in the game.”  Along the way he gets a partner/love interest in Lucy (Wiig) and their chemistry is at the heart of the movie.  The three girls are adorable as usual, and the oldest Margo (Cosgrove) has an interest in a boy that gets Gru’s attention in a way that any father of a girl will surely understand.  The search for the super villain takes some interesting twists and turns, and the whacky Minions are always there to provide their wonderful brand of slapstick humor.  The movie never stops delivering from start to finish, and I for one, can’t wait to see it again!

As some of our regular readers may know, I am a child of the ’90’s Disney classics.  Aladdin, Beauty & the Beast, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King…these are the movies I was raised on and they seriously set the bar for any of the more recent instant classics, such as the Toy Story films, Cars, Wall-E, UP, etc. etc. etc.  So, when Ross told me to give Despicable Me a shot, I had some high expectations.  He said it was one of his recent favorites and incredibly cute.  We were far apart at the time and I was home sick from work that day.  I immediately loved it.  Carell’s over the top villain voice, Brand’s undetected Dr. Nefario and those three little girls.  I could just eat little Agnes right up, she’s so freaking adorable!  “It’s so FLUFFY!!!”  I laughed out loud, I cried like a little bitch and it honestly made me feel better.  I guess it’s unsurprising that I just as easily took to the sequel.  Despicable Me 2 has the same unforced charm, clever cookiness and heart warming storyline that made me fall in love with the first one.  I don’t know if it was better, but it was very good.  The plot focused on thwarting an evil mastermind’s plan, but mainly it was about setting Gru up with a suitable mother for his lovely daughters.  This one is perfect for the kids and I can tell you that the two young viewers that accompanied us thoroughly enjoyed themselves.  Hannah and Ethan are both 9 and they were thrilled with the finished product.  Except perhaps that one scene when the evil guy is testing his serum on bunnies…the girl loves bunnies.

Hannah is a hoot, it’s too bad we only get to see them a couple of times a year because Ethan and her get along so well.  And the girl really does love bunnies.  Despicable Me 2 is crushing at the box office.  It has singlehandedly pulverized the life out of Johnny Depp’s Lone Ranger, as I’ve heard they’ve already cancelled plans for a sequel.  It’s no surprise really, DM2 is that good, and its appeal is just as strong for adults as it is for the kids.  I wouldn’t be shocked to see it win best animated feature at the Oscars next year.  I know it’s early for a prediction like that, I’m sure there will be many more worthy efforts between now and March.  But, they better be damned good because Gru, the girls and the Minions have thrown it down baby!  I only have one complaint and it has nothing to do with the content.  It’s the frigging 3D.  I know we bring it up often, but I’m sorry, it’s a tremendous waste of money.  I’m positive I would’ve enjoyed the movie just as much in a conventional theater.  The best/only 3D effects were after the movie was over and the Minions had their now familiar vignettes during the credits.  Hey Hollywood, enough already! 

I hear ya there.  I’m tired of paying extra for two or three thrills.  If you’re going to make the movie 3-D, make it worth my while.  The Minions are entertaining at the very end, but I think we could splurge and put a few 3-D thrills into the meat of the movie.  Moving on, DM2 was a pleasure.  It was well worth the price and a day of our vacation.  The kids had a blast, Ross & I enjoyed ourselves and we may even go see it once more before it leaves theatres.  There’s something extremely unique about these movies.  And we all love watching a bad guy turn good, especially Ross.  It’s literally his favorite thing about a film.  An evil villain turned dad, AVL spy & loving husband.  It doesn’t get much better than that.  Catch this one while you can and bring along the kids.

Ross’ Rating: 4.75 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Maria’s Rating: 4 Gummies.

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