Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

When it comes to animated flicks, nothing comes close to the gargantuan gastronomic feast that is Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. There are hefty servings comedy, romance, and, oh yes, food that will surely give you more than your recommended daily intake of fun.

The story is no big secret. You might have already seen the trailer that has been making rounds since August of last year or have read the 1982 children's book by Judith Barrett. Note: If you read the book, expect to see some minor changes in the story.

Meatballs revolves around the life of inventor Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) who, at an early age, wanted to create something that will change the world. For years, however, luck never sided with him – that is, until he invented the Flint Lockwood Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator or FLDSMDFR (fleh-dis-um-meh-duh-fer) for short.

When word came about Flint's invention, his reputation quickly turned from being the town outcast to the town hero. Finally, Swallow Falls was no longer dependent on its sardine-based economy, all thanks to the FLDSMDFR, and no one was more ecstatic about it than Mayor Shelbourne (Bruce Campbell).

Adding more laughs to the already funny ensemble is Sam Sparks played by the ditzy Anna Farris. As a New York weather girl, Sam's on-cam spiels are often cheesy but at the same time overly clever. Older viewers, however, may not get the humor.

And speaking of humor, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs doesn't have a clear comedic voice. In some stretches, the jokes are juvenile; in others, they were noticeably more grown-up, prompting different reactions from different people during the movie. At one point, kids will break out into laughter; in others, adults will give out a slight chuckle. This is a far cry from the uncompromising universal appeal of Pixar films.

Like many kid-centric movies, Meatballs tries to teach several moral values to both young and old viewers. As food continues to pour from the sky, the townsfolk have developed a liking for excess. Unconsumed portions were simply flung into a faraway place with no regard for proper disposal whatsoever. "Out of sight and out of mind," as the mayor put it so eloquently, has been the town's motto for cleanliness. Inevitably, a mountain of waste got back at the town in the end.

Another theme that the movie touches on is the love between a father and a son. More than once throughout the movie, Flint's father, Tim (James Caan), had a hard time expressing his love for his son and vice versa. On the other hand, eccentric policeman Earl Devereux (Mr. T) had an easier time giving and saying all he can to his son, Cal (Bobb'e J. Thompson).

The use of 3D is greatly justified by the very nature of the story. The "food rain" really popped out, thanks to the simulated depth of field. Larger-than-life images of burgers, ice cream, and pasta could make anyone want to rush to the nearest restaurant right after the movie ends.

In terms of cinematography, some shots did resort to exploiting the 3D-ness of the movie, such as when schoolkids purposedly pointed to the screen or when Earl clenched his butt cheeks in the foreground. They're fun to watch, but are ultimately lame attempts to remind the audience that they're watching a movie in 3D. To its credit, though, Meatballs is the least dizzying 3D IMAX movie we've seen – no offense to James Cameron's Avatar.

There are many reasons to catch Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs in theaters. The IMAX version is certainly interesting to watch, but if you opt to see it in 2D, it shouldn't be bad either. It's a good date movie and an excellent family flick. Barkadas, however, may not enjoy it as much.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs opens in theaters nationwide January 27.

Images courtesy of Allmoviephoto

star_on star_on star_on star_off star_off
  • There's food everywhere
  • Not as dizzying as other 3D movies
  • Mr. T is hilarious!
  • Not sure if it's for kids or for grown-ups
  • Forced use of 3D in some scenes
Bottom Line
  • A feel-good movie for the entire family

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