Film Reviews

CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS

By • Oct 25th, 2009 •

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Romantic comedies make us fall in love and ponder the complexities of modern male/female relationships. CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS makes us want to enter eating contests and has us ponder how silly food can be. It’s a pleasing animated feature soaking in bright, crazy Baskin-Robbins colors.

The basic story is not all that original, and it’s by the book, so you always know what is going to happen next. (Laughed-at loser does good, now everybody loves him, but his invention goes out of control…. Nothing new.) Flint Lockwood is the odd wannabe inventor-kid in an island village whose only natural resource is sardines. After inventing spray-on shoes, walking TV sets and a useless monkey translator, Flint invents this weird thing that resembles a big angry toaster oven. This invention manages to turn water into food. Flint’s contraption gets caught in the clouds and in no time it is raining cheeseburgers. Every drop of rain is a juicy medium-cooked burger, and the whole town loves it. Prosperity overcomes this town that once smelt of rotting fish! Flint can control the device to spit out any type of food, everything from jellybeans to porterhouse steaks. Warning signs of doom come when the raining food becomes weird – like chocolate covered hot dogs, for example. Danger really arrives when a category-five tornado made of spaghetti and meatballs threatens everybody! Anna Faris does the voice of Sam, a high- spirited rookie weather woman with a weakness for Jello. It is a relief to see (okay, hear her) in such a fun film after she did two mean-spirited yawn-inducing gross-out comedies (OBSERVE AND REPORT and THE HOUSE BUNNY). Eccentric writing and characters help fuel this pleasing, smart family film. Bruce Campbell is the money-hungry mayor who is overcome with greed and calories when his poor island town gains a monopoly on these belly-filling weather patterns (Check out that wacky ice cream blizzard). Mr. T is the jittery traffic cop, James Caan is Flint’s old-fashioned dad, a sardine fisherman who refuses to grasp the internet (There is amusing comic suspense in him trying to figure out e-mail.) SNL regular Andy Samberg is great as “Baby” Brent, whose stardom came and went when he was an infant, shaking a diapered butt in Coppertone styled Sardine commercials. Now he’s a loud thirty-something, still trying to grasp onto the glory years of his baby butt-shaking dance. His public appearances in a diaper are one of this film’s many comic highlights. Faris, Caan, Campbell, etc. all overshadow star Bill Hader (SUPERBAD and Saturday Night Live) who voices Flint Lockwood. (Lockwood resembles a more wacky Adrian Brody, whom I wish Flint’s voicing job went to.)

Very often such visual elements as the ocean around the town, out-of-control fireworks, and cascading water are the real live-action thing. The meshing of live action background elements and animated characters in the foreground recalls the hypnotic work of the great Czech animator, Karel Zeman (THE FABULOUS WORLD OF JULES VERNE). This adds a realistic layer to the fantasy – which works. Overall, this film’s eccentricities and occasional smart social satire of our food sub-culture comes off as Fellini- loose-in-the-candy-aisle!

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