90 Min. | Animation – Comedy – Family | September 2009
IMDB Rating: 7.0
Directors: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
Staring: Anna Faris, Bill Hader, Bruce Campbell
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Review: Based on the 1978 novel of the same name by Judi and Ron Barrett, directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller took the foundation of the literature and created a sort of ‘origin’ story. The book told of a fantastical town where it rained the inhabitant’s daily meals until the portions span out of control, creating gigantic food storms and oversized grub. The film imagines this phenomena is caused by science-nut Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader), who after witnessing his small town getting shut off from the world and forced to eat nothing but sardines, thinks he can win the hearts of the townsfolk by creating a machine that turns water in the food of your choice. At the opening of Sardine Land, hosted by Mayor Shelbourne (Bruce Campbell), Flint’s contraption goes haywire and shoots off into the sky. Soon enough, pickles, buns and cheese are raining from the sky, which soon become full cheeseburgers.
The townsfolk lap it up, plying Flint with requests, and even the intern reporter Sam Sparks (Anna Faris) starts to enjoy her pun-filled reports. That is until the machine starts to lose control and begins spewing out giant spaghetti tornado’s and giant steaks. Similar in a way to the Belgian madcap comedy A Town Called Panic, released the same year, Cloud With a Chance of Meatballs find most of it’s charm in its relentless and hyperactive approach. Jokes litter both the foreground and background of the movie, producing some inventive, old-fashioned slapstick alongside some modern, more neurotic humour. It’s an insane film at times, but there’s a lot of genuine wit here. In a montage of Flint’s failed inventions, we see televisions that walk to you on legs so you can change the channel, spray-on shoes that never come off, and ratbirds. The inventions are then seen throughout the film, either taking an active role in the plot or, in the television’s case, looting the town’s electronics store for an enjoyable throwaway gag.
But beneath all the frenetic energy, there’s some heartfelt moments involving Flint’s father (voiced by a gruff James Caan) who can’t quite communicate with the son he doesn’t understand. There is also some subtle commentary on humanity’s wastefulness and penchant for greed. All the uneaten food gets flung miles over a hill so it can rot away out of sight, and as the dollar signs increase in size in Mayor Shelbourne’s eyes, so does his waste size. The ending takes the disappointing route of continuing the current trend of animated films having overblown, action-packed climaxes, but if you can put that aside, there is a lot to savour here.