Nick Swardson & TJ Miller To Voice Stop Motion Comedy ‘Hell & Back’
Sony has tasked two relative unknowns with directing the sequel to their hit kids film “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” (which ended up grossing more than $230 million worldwide), Variety reports. The film, which is not yet greenlit (but is being actively developed), will be helmed by Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn, both making their big screen directorial debuts (they both worked on the original film).
This is typical of the way that the animation world works, with those in lower positions gradually rising in the ranks to become directors. Cameron was a story artist on the original “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” while Pearn served as head of story. (Having a background in the story department always helps). The original film, an adpatation of the beloved children’s book by Judi and Ron Barrett, was written and directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller. Lord and Miller created the bizarre MTV animated series “Clone High” (and worked as writers on “How I Met Your Mother“) before helming “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.” They’ve since gone on to direct this spring’s big budget “21 Jump Street” film. Cody Cameron had previously directed “Open Season 3,” a direct-to-video sequel that Sony released on home video in the fall of 2010.
The original “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” was sort of a delight. A simplistic, cartoony visual feel was augmented by some truly outrageous and weird set pieces, like a scene in which our heroes encounter roasted turkeys that attack them like vampire bats, and a zippy sense of pacing, it was the rare studio animated film that was undersold just enough so that you were surprised by how good it was. Hopefully the sequel, if developed properly, can pull off the same sensation, although we’re not sure where else you can take the concept of food raining from the heavens.
In additional animation news, but on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, Deadline has announced that Nick Swardson and TJ Miller (aka the guy that held the camera in “Cloverfield“) will be providing voices for “Hell & Back,” an R-rated stop motion animated comedy from ShadowMachine, the group that produces “Moral Orel” and “Robot Chicken” for Cartoon Network. The film is described as being about “two best friends who must rescue their pal when he is accidentally dragged to hell.” Sounds fun! We’re assuming that the casting announcement is for the “two best friends” and that we’re at least three years away from actually seeing this thing on the big screen (stop motion animation takes a looooooong time).
ShadowMachine has done solid work in the past and it’s got a solid concept. It’s being directed by Tom Gianas who has written for “Saturday Night Live” and “Tenacious D” (and directed Swardson in his own “Pretend Time” series) and Ross Shuman, a ShadowMachine vet from “Robot Chicken” and “Moral Orel.” Anytime there’s an R-rated cartoon out, things are good.