Most people growing up remember the children’s book Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, but is this film adaption going to bring back some nostalgia? I can remember reading the book and thinking “Wow…it’d be so cool if it rained my favorite foods!”…but this film really makes it seem like one hellish nightmare. In fact, for such a light-hearted film, the message about our eating habits was pretty strong. I am surprised the filmmakers didn’t just go ahead and call the film, Cloudy with a Chance of Heart Disease.
The film follows a somewhat lovable character, Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader), who has always had a nack for inventions. Flint seems to always have the right intentions with these inventions, but he executes them, ever so poorly. Well, after a lifetime of failures, Flint finally makes an invention that can turn water into food, and he has finally stuck gold. In his town, Swallow Falls, sardines have been the main attraction, so Flint really thinks his invention will change the town. One day, after a freak accident, Flint’s invention ends up in the sky, and it begins to rain food. Now, Mayor Shelbourne (Bruce Campbell), is tired of this “po-dunk town” as he calls it, and feels that this raining of food could be a new tourist attraction. This is where the film picks up, because we see the influence that the town and the mayor have on Flint for the rest of the film. A cute news reporter, Sam Sparks (Anna Ferris), is there for Flint, but I guess it’s easy to lose your head when you could be come hero of the town. I’m not going to spoil any of the inventive food jokes through out the film, but it all culminates into an epic battle at the end that was really cool to watch in 3-D. While not perfect, the second half of the film was a lot of fun to watch, and it was great to see those memorable illustrations brought to life on the big screen.
For the most part, the performances were great. I am so used to seeing Bill Hader as a side-kick in films (such as Hot Rod), so it was cool to see such an oddball character take the lead. Anna Feris does a good job with Sam Sparks, keeping her peppy and cute…once her nerdy side comes out, she pulls that off wonderfully as well. I think the character that made me laugh the most was Flint’s pet monkey (that has a Thought Translator so you can hear it speak), named Steve (voiced by Neil Patrick Harris). There are so many moments in the film that Steve just takes the spotlight and says something random that will have you in stitches. Another show stopper was Mr. T as the cop, Earl; hearing Mr. T calling Flint a “fool” was pretty much worth the price of admission for me. To be totally honest, I thought the film was cast very well, especially the mayor. Bruce Campbell did a great job at keeping the character with a nice mix of being goofy and sinister, all at the same time.
The films message is clear, people eat too much, and they make sure to shove that point down your throat until you are sick. We all know that eating too much junk food is bad for you, so it’s kind of annoying when we see that lecture posted on the big screen for nearly ninety minutes. At the same time, we also see a more light-hearted message in the form of Flint always shooting for his dreams, even when he didn’t have the approval of his peers. I think a lot of kids will relate to Flint, seeing as his father knows squat about technology, and Flint is obsessed with that stuff. For a lot of todays children, the parents can’t keep up with all the new-fangled video games and ipod’s; the film shows that even if your family doesn’t care for your electronic hobbies, they will never stop caring about you.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is a film I would recommend only as a matinee. If there is nothing else playing that you want to see, then sure, go ahead, but it’s nothing really fresh or ground breaking. After watching the film, I drew comparisons between it and Wall-E. With Pixar’s film, we had a similar message, about society becoming fat, due to laziness from technology. Cloudy on the other hand, seems to just make people seem like fat slobs with insatiable hunger…I guess I just felt this movie wasn’t executed as well. However, the filmmakers should be applauded on some of the inventive things you see in the middle of the film, ranging from a jello vista that Flint makes for Sam, to ice cream snowball fights. I think this is a step up from the studio’s other CG outings with Open Season and Surf’s Up, but I don’t think they are quite up to par with Pixar and Dreamworks quite yet. The film doesn’t stand out among the rest of the CG crowd, and with the elevating prices of 3-D movies in general, it makes Cloudy a bit harder to swallow.