Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s (
21 Jump Street)
directorial debut, Cloudy with a Chance
of Meatballs is a computer animated family pastiche on the disaster film
genre. Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) is an enthusiastic but sometimes misguided
inventor who lives on a small island in the Atlantic Ocean
which has come on hard times since the local Sardine factory closed its doors.
The islanders are left with nothing to eat but the oily fish so in an attempt
to create a different source of food for the islands inhabitants, Lockwood
invents a device which turns water into food. While an intern weather girl Sam
(Anna Faris) is visiting the island from to document the opening of the theme park ‘Sardine World’, Lockwood accidentally launches
his invention into the sky. After a short time, food begins to fall from the
sky and the islanders are overjoyed but soon things take a dramatic turn when
Lockwood’s invention becomes sentient and creates food-weather storms which
threaten the entire planet.
This is probably the most visually appealing computer animated film I’ve ever seen. The animation is bright, colourful and bold. It really is a joy to look at. Some of the animation such as certain foods and especially water look incredibly real while the human characters have an eccentric and unique look to them. There is also great detail given to the background. In one scene for instance, two children are seen squirming while two adult characters kiss. Although they can barely be seen, it’s a nice little bit of attention to detail.
The script is full of wonderful witty and quirky sight gags and the dialogue had me laughing out loud. The characters are great and well defined. I especially like the way the cop (Mr. T) says ‘Flint Lockwood’ as if it is three separate words. Other fantastic characters include Lockwood Snr (James Caen), a technophobe who only communicates in fishing metaphors and Steve the Monkey (Neil Patrick Harris) who Lockwood has given the power of speech to via a Monkey-translator. I think Steve is funnier than the dog in Up.
The story is obviously crazy but it works. I was enthralled by it and even though most of what was going to happen was pretty obvious, I went with it. Other than the actual premise of precipitating food, there isn’t really anything new here. Like most modern children’s films, there is a strong message which it delivers to its young, captive audience. The film shows the perils of overeating and also warns that actions have consequences.
The film isn’t afraid to make fun of itself but more importantly the disaster film genre. One scene in particular was very amusing. After seeing giant food land in Times Square, on the
Tower, the Great
Wall of China and on Big Ben, a weather man pronounces that the
storm is taking a strange course, focusing on the world’s major landmarks
before spreading to the rest of the world. The film is full of little nods to
Since watching the film, another thing that has amused me has been the discovery of what the film was called in non-English speaking countries. For instance in
the title was Little Meatballs and other
Weather Conditions. In Poland
it was Cloudy, possible precipitation in the form of meatballs. While I
could continue to laugh at funny foreigners, I end by saying that Cloudy… is a unique and quirky film
which has great visuals and a funny script. The story isn’t groundbreaking but
the animation perhaps is. Russia