Directors: Phil Lord, disorder Chris Miller
Screenplay: Phil Lord, Chris Miller
Actors: Anna Faris, Bill Hader, James Caan, Bruce Campbell, Mr. T, Andy Samberg
Date of Release: September 18, 2009
Based on the book of the same name by Judi and Ron Barrett
Food raining down from the sky? What a grand idea!
I was lucky enough to first hear about this movie during the San Diego Comic Convention this year, having attended the panel and seeing a few clips before it had been released to the general public. It had peaked my interest that it landed on my “to-watch” list. When I saw all the advertisements for it coming out, I became excited.
So, having finally seen it, did it live up to my expectations? Well, yes and no. “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” is first and foremost, a family film. It is the story about Flint Lockwood, who is an extremely inventive, smart and nerdy (though I think here it’s almost an understatement) young adult who has never been able to fit in anywhere, ever since he was a young kid. The neighbours recognize him as the “weird kid”, always busy toiling in his self-made lab for his next new invention. Even his father seems not to know what to do with him. Having successfully made several inventions, though none of them all that useful, Flint has finally created a food machine, that by an accident, causes the programmed food to start raining from the sky. Flint lives in Swallow Falls, a small island in the Atlantic Ocean where sardines is the primary staple – of which no one really likes to eat. With his invention, everyone appreciates the variety of the food they’re given instead of the diverse ways one could try and swallow sardines. However, things get a bit out of control.
The colors are absolutely brilliant as they are vibrant and look as if they jump right off the screen. Watching it in 3D is a treat, though definitely not mandatory in order to enjoy this film. The story is already entertaining enough that 3D is just the topping (no pun intended) on top of a most delicious pie. Though the animation is nowhere near “Pixar” calibar, it’s easy to overlook the unmoving hair of Flint or Sam’s one piece. The characters have personality with exaggerated facial movements, the most being Flint’s father (voiced by James Caan), whose eyes are normally hidden from view. The voice acting is terrific, with an impressive cast, led by Bill Hader and Anna Faris.
The movie was created out of the extremely popular children’s book of the same name by Judi and Ron Barnett. At first I had thought I had never read the book, but looking it up on Amazon, I realized that I did know the book, and I had read it before. Unfortunately, I don’t remember enough of the book to do a fair comparison on it, so I’m not sure if the movie does the book justice. I have a feeling that those who read and remember the book well may compare the illustrations and the cartoon-ish feel of the movie and come away with disappointed. Plus, it’s always hard to live up to the book, though comparing this movie to the coming up adaptation “Where the Wild Things Are” may give this adaptation a run for this movie.
In the end, my impression is that it’s just a fun movie, one appropriate enough for the entire family to enjoy. Along with the fun prospect of having any food you want fall from the sky, there are even a few messages you can pass to your kids that would prompt an interesting discussion. Expect to be entertained, but not necessarily blown away.