Tuesday, October 27, 2015

No more coffee jokes


I've seen lame sequels to animated movies before, but rarely have I seen an animated sequel with such a gap in quality between the first and second as the gap in quality between Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2.

I could go on at length about the tired predictability of the script, the perfunctory attempt to give all the returning characters meaningful arcs, and the queasily bright colored world of animals made of food that probably sounded a lot better on the page than it came out in reality. But today I want to focus on one of the primary indicators of the script's tired predictability: Its reliance on extremely played out coffee jokes.

This is not the first time I've noticed lazy caffeine jokes in the movies -- far from it. But it's the first time in a while I recall both varieties of lazy coffee jokes being used in the same movie.

Lame coffee joke #1: People who drink too much coffee become addicted to caffeine and start talking really quickly, usually with one eye twitching.

I suppose it's the age-appropriate version of the lazy joke seen in adult comedies, where a character accidentally ingests cocaine and then starts talking a mile a minute. (Most recently seen by me in the awful comedy Hot Pursuit.) Here, what happens is that the hero of the first movie, Flint Lockwood (voice of Bill Hader), gets poached by a tech genius (voiced by Will Forte) to come work at his amazing tech company in San Fran Jose (ha ha). Naturally, because the movie believes that tech geniuses rely on crutches like caffeine to make their minds work more quickly, Flint is given a latte even before he enters the building, and immediately starts to act amped up. He is then told "there are caffeine stations every ten feet" and is offered a "soy-free soy latte." (Hi-larrrrious!) He is further told that "caffeine patches are available 24 hours," and is joined by scientist with the aforementioned twitching eye who proceeds to slap a seventh caffeine patch on his face. After which he immediately falls over in some kind of convulsive caffeine overload.

Flint is not seen without a coffee for about the next 12 scenes.

Lame coffee joke #2: People customize coffee in really complicated ways.

It seems that certain writers find the Sally(of Harry and Sally)-esque way that people order coffee to be the height of cutting edge wit. It might have been ... when someone first wrote a joke about it back in 1998.

The mustiness of the humor doesn't discourage these writers, who bring Officer Earl Devereaux (first voiced by Mr. T, now by Terry Crews) along with Flint (inexplicably) to San Fran Jose, and set him up working at a cupcake shop that serves coffee. When Flint needs to gather his team together a few scenes later on, we find Officer Devereaux (in a ridiculous pink outfit) fed up with his latest order: "Triple decaf mochaccino boba latte with skim soy and nutmeg sprinkle."

Yep, he's ready to return to Sallow Falls, and I'm ready to get out of this movie.

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