Starring: Anna Ferris, Bill Hader, James Caan, Andy Samberg
Directed by: Phil Lord, Chris Miller
Movie Released: 2009
Sometimes you see a movie hoping a childhood memory can be recreated. I remember sitting in a classroom years ago, and having an elementary teacher reading the class the book, Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs. All of us eager eyed little kids hung on every word the teacher spoke, as she told us about a small town called Chew and Swallow, a place where it rained food. At the conclusion of the tale, we were given a writing assignment that had us penning our own tale of foods that rain from the sky. After all, who doesn’t love childhood stories that explain why it would rain their favorite food? Looking back on it, its one of the school activities that was a lot of fun back in the day (which was a Wednesday for the record) and so of course I wanted to have just as much fun as I watched the film Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs.
However, in the year 2009 my childhood memory was robbed from me. Sony pictures worked very hard to bring Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs to the big screen. Set in Chew and Swallow, the movie version has us following a strange lab nerd with rejection issues emerging from his lab and creating a machine that will make food rain from the sky. At first, his invention seems to be a success but as time elapses, he realizes (thanks to the help of an intern weather girl who shares his nerdy obsessions) that his machine is causing the food to get bigger and bigger. As the sky begins to open up and rain giant mounds of ice cream, large dough nuts and steak, he realizes he must find a way of shutting down his machine for good before it crushes the town with mammoth meatballs.
I was really torn by this movie. On many levels I enjoyed the flick. It found a way of taking the beloved children’s story and brought it to life on the big screen. The film in many ways puts imaginations of small children on the big screen. The skies rain food daily giving the friendly people of Chew and Swallow something good to eat (and despite the rain of food, very little clean up is required). If you could dream it, the movie had it pouring from the skies in giant proportions. All that food raining from the skies makes you crave food in epic proportions.
Besides making you hungry, the film tries to tackle the issues of accepting who you are, as well as the sometimes troublesome relationship between a father and a son that are nothing alike. Try as it may, the film really doesn’t succeed at either of these things well. The inventor convinces the intern weather girl to be herself and embrace her….gasp….glasses….and a ponytail! The end result is supposed to be that she begins to accept herself for who she is, and she does. However, she is humiliated and called ugly on international television first. Somehow the girl just blows it off like it is no big deal. Sure, that’s a nice message in theory, but c’mon, to blow that off and just be chipper about it? The film blew it’s chance for the girl to either A.) make a stand against the news anchor who mocks her by saying she is happy with herself, or B.) had her make a comment, or even wrestle with pain of being “different.” Along side this, we have a father figure that shares no real interest in his inventor son’s projects. At the end, the father works with the son (sort of) to try and save the world from giant meatballs. All the ground work is there for something heart felt, however once the the trigger is pulled on this issue, it wound up being a dud.
Animation wise, I saw nothing new or amazing brought to the table. In many ways, the film continued down the stale animation of yester-year. Mix that in with a cliche plot line and at best mildly entertaining characters, and you have a film that tries to bite off more than it can chew (pun intended). When it was all said and done, Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs, is a film that your young-ins will enjoy, but will have you wanting to snooze through it. But that’s ok, it’s target audience is supposed to be the young ones. And for a film that is really geared toward them, it does an ok job at achieving its simple minded plot. If you have someone in your house that is under the age of eight, they will probably have a great time watching Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs. However, if you are looking for a film that will re-kindle your childhood imaginations and memories, I am sorry to report that Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs just isn’t going to be enough to bring out that inner kid in you.