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Clip Jobs: A Sedaris Story And Another Helping Of 'Meatballs'

By NPR Staff | 09/27/2013

With upwards of 650 movies out in an average year, there's no way NPR's critics are gonna write full-on reviews of everything we see. But we thought we'd take a stab at doing short takes on some of the notable things that didn't quite make the cut. If it sticks, we'll call 'em Clip Jobs. Let us know what you think.

When The 'Meatballs' Are Tasty, Hollywood Dishes Up More

We could discuss the mechanics of comedy, or the work that goes into crafting a good animated sight gag, or the perilous course a team of filmmakers must navigate when they set out to make a sequel to a hit that's inspired as much affection as Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.

Or we could just acknowledge that Meatballs 2, out today, is a film that involves watermelephants.

I said watermelephants:

Now, the 'melephants don't make an appearance in that clip, but a whole lot of other edible critters do — the just-high-enough concept of the sequel being that Flint Lockwood's out-of-control food-making machine wasn't entirely destroyed in the first film's finale, and that it's somehow evolved until what it's spitting out isn't just food, but living food. Shrimpanzees. Mosquitoast. A Tacodile Supreme.

At one point, everyone panics at the discovery that — you've seen the trailer, right? — there's a leek in the boat.

It's playful, it's joyful, it's little-guy-outwits-big-guy. (Will Forte is the preposterously well-funded villain, an animated slap at both Steve Jobs and Deepak Chopra.) And as with many an animated pic, it's got a message or two for little audiences ("eat sensibly," and "food comes with an ethic") packaged with many a pun to make things palatable for the bigger patrons.

Cinematic homages, too, that Jurassic Park-style "foodimal reveal" above most prominent among them. Me? I chortled like a macaloon. --Trey Graham

David Sedaris, At Work In An Oregon Orchard

For NPR fans, the news that David Sedaris has finally allowed a film adaptation of one of his essays — "C.O.G.," about a post-collegiate job he took at an Oregon apple orchard to see how "real" people live — will be catnip.

The film's David (Jonathan Groff, of Glee and Broadway's Spring Awakening) starts as a smug Yalie, but is quickly and progressively humbled and/or instructed by his interactions with Latino day laborers, a gay co-worker, various evangelicals, and in this scene, a taciturn boss intent on making a simple point:

A languid sense of pace, evident in that clip, keeps C.O.G. — in theaters here and there, as well as gettable on demand and via iTunes — from being as funny as Sedaris fans might wish. But director Kyle Patrick Alvarez's taste for character discomfort — and audience discomfort, as viewers of his Easier With Practice can attest — fits the material well enough. Now, could someone please film Santaland Diaries? --Bob Mondello
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