Friday, September 27, 2013

'Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2' Directors On Playing With Food

BY AARON SAGERS 

In the new 3-D computer animated movie “Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2,” it is time to play with our food again. Except, this time, the food plays back. The sequel to the 2009 film follows inventor Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader), who discovers that his amazing food machine isn’t only still operational, but is creating living food/animal hybrids on a mysterious island.

Needless to say, something must be done about an island where tacodiles, hippotatomus, fruit cockatiels and shrimpanzees roam freely. So after being recruited to solve the problem by super genius Chester V (Will Forte), Flint enlists friends from the first movie Sam (Anna Faris), Earl (Terry Crews), Brent (Andy Samberg), Manny (Benjamin Bratt), his dad Tim (James Caan) and pet monkey Steve (Neil Patrick Harris) on an adventure to stop the foodimal-making machine and, of course, save the world.

While it’s a movie targeting kids, “Cloudy” 2 is also as much a nod to the adventure films of the 1980s and early ’90s, which should keep the grown-ups happy – as will humor accessible to all ages.

For the sequel, Kris Pearn, who was head of story on the first movie, makes his feature directorial debut along with Cody Cameron, who has previously directed “Open Season 3.” Pearn and Cameron join MTV Geek to talk about the process of bringing the movie, and the animals, to life. And along the way, they share their '80s movie experiences and reveal when it is OK to eat a foodimal.

MTV Geek: We got a tease at the end of the first movie about these animals coming to life, but how did the concept of foodimals really come together?

Kris Pearn: I think, part of it, was our flip of genre. We did a disaster movie, that was the concept of the first film. So coming back into the sequel, we were riffing on let’s do a monster movie. That little bit of stuff at the end of the first film? We had a whole longer version of that monster movie ending we had to cut. We were itching to do more with that idea … and through the natural slings and arrows of the story process, we started punning, and once you start punning, it’s hard to stop. So history will judge us.

Geek: What were some foodimals that were left on the table?

Cody Cameron: Well the Tyranna-smore-us only shows up in the 2-D coda but there used to be a scene in the body of the film where our gang was hiking across the crème brulee glacier, and they came across this Tyranna-smore-us that was basically made up of graham cracker mouth, chocolate teeth, marshmallow body. It kind of changed to an ice cream glacier, and we felt we had too many monsters with the cheesespider and tacodile, so it fell by the wayside.

Pearn: We had a Spam whale, which was a can of Spam with a tail. That was kind of dumb. And the one that makes me laugh, to this day, is the Cumin Being.

Geek: Did you guys play with your food as kids?

Pearn:
I grew up on a farm with brothers, so we didn’t have a lot of time to play. Mom would drop the bacon in the middle of the table and it was a kind of a hockey scrum to get as much of it as you could.

Cameron: When Kris and I first started developing this film, we both were talking about pickles and strawberries as one of the main foods we wanted to do. So I spent a Sunday carving up produce and using map tacks for eyes, and I also wanted to photograph them in natural sunlight and natural setting to help show the studio what it could look like. I took these photos and used them as part of the pitch.

Pearn: It really sold the movie.

Cameron: It was really fun, too. It was like getting to play in the backyard with toys.

Geek: What were the movies you loved as kids?

Cameron: Definitely the “Star Wars” stuff, and any kind of George Lucas or Steven Spielberg thing were pretty influential on this film. But also a lot of Disney animation for me.

Pearn: I grew up watching Warner Brothers [“Looney Tunes”] on one of the three channels we got on the weekends, and obsessed with that kind of comedy. And when I saw “The Secret Of Nimh” the first time, that blew my mind – the Don Bluth hands. But a lot of live-action references in this film we were on our sleeve, like “The Goonies,” “Gremlins,” “E.T.,” “Teen Wolf.”

Geek: Is Flint’s relationships with Sam and the other friends tested once he enters the world of his idol, Chester V?

Pearn: One of the things that got us excited when we were breaking the story was the idea of graduating Flint. [In the first film] he’s the only guy in a lab coat, but what happens when he goes to a place where everyone is in a lab coat? It is a little like going to high school or any kind of upgrade in life. And the empathetic sinew that pulls the movie together is this idea of “you get the girl, but how do you keep the girl?” How do you keep your friends as you go through the changes of life?

Cameron: How do you keep your friends when you have old friends and new friends, and want to keep everyone happy?

Pearn: We looked at a lot of ’80s movie references for that, like the “Can’t Buy Me Teen Wolf.”

Geek: When it came to your voice talent, what were some of the surprises you encountered?
Cameron: There was a pleasant surprise from Will because he would do a line over and over again, maybe 30 times, and each one was slightly different. And at a certain point he would try really different takes, and really explore different ways of saying a line.

Pearn: Definitely, with James Caan, I was surprised in our sessions with him how much he cared about the character and how method he was. He really needed to understand the motivation for everything. So Cody [who also voices Dill Pickle in the movie] would be working opposite him, doing the pickle voices and James Caan would just go with it and be completely in it. And he’d bring a lot of physicality to it.

Geek: Is it OK to be conflicted about the animals because they are cute but I also want to eat them? Like the cute little Barry strawberry, do I eat him or cuddle him?

Cameron: You cuddle him but the jelly they squirt out is safe to eat. So basically we’re telling kids not to eat vegetables anymore? [laughs]

Pearn: Eat the vegetable byproduct. I never stopped eating anything, but maybe that’s part of my personal problem!

Cameron: Maybe the food creatures will strike some sort of deal that when they die, you can eat them.

Pearn: Or when they’re sleeping, at least. You know, if you sneak up on them, it’s OK!

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