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Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs overindulges (Review)

If a cheeseburger dropped from the heavens and hit me in the head, I would not be happy. I probably wouldn’t be conscious either. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs shows us what happens when you get too much of a good thing, though its essentially just one big action flick.

This isn’t quite the Judi Barrett kids story you remember from childhood. It’s been altered, though a lot of the basic tenets are still in place. It’s still set on the fictional island of Chewandswallow, it still rains cheeseburgers and ice cream, and at the end the weather starts getting out of control, but Sony adds new dimensions to the classic story. We now know why those burgers fall from the sky. Flint Lockwood, a young scientist with daddy issues, is responsible.

Flint (voiced by Bill Hader) has been an inventor all his life, but his dad just wishes he’d help out at the sardine shop. After some failures like ratbirds and spray-on-shoes, he invents a device that can turn a few ounces of water and transform it into any food on Earth. If used right, a machine like that could change the world. It would end hunger (and put millions of farmers out of work). No one would ever wonder where their next meal is coming from. Unfortunately, when Flint connects the device to a power transformer—he needs many Giga Joules to power the thing, think Back to the Future—the machine launches into the clouds. Clouds, as you know, are made of water. And so it rains cheeseburgers.

You would think that getting pelted by food every day would upset the populace of Chewandswallow. You’d be wrong. Everyone is ecstatic and Flint Lockwood becomes the most popular guy in town. The more he uses the device though, the more it begins to malfunction, resulting in giant meatballs destroying the town, and a spinning pasta tornado.

 I hate to say it, but Flint Lockwood is pretty similar to Lewis from Meet The Robinsons. The central messages of the original kids book seem to be present, but writing/directing team Phil Lord and Chris Miller have changed the story into a pretty standard action movie, complete with a flawed main character, a funny sidekick, simple life lessons, talking animals (like Up) a love interest, tons of tiny recurring jokes, a jive-talking black guy, a Jabba the Hutt mayor, a HAL-like evil machine that’s attained sentience, a perilous pit, plenty of running and jumping; oh, and a whole lot of ginormous falling food.

However, the voice acting is pretty solid. Bill Hader, Anna Farris, Andy Samberg, James Caan, Bruce Cambell, and Mr. T fit their characters perfectly. Pixar is the only animation house that consistently picks great vocal talent, but Sony does well here, just as they did for Monster House (great film) a few years back.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is yet another RealD 3D movie. Thankfully the audience isn’t bombarded with hotdogs flying at their eyes for an hour and a half. Like Pixar’s Up, Sony does a good job creating a balanced 3D effect. I didn’t mind the 3D, though the glasses still dull the color quite a bit. If you see it in 2D, you aren’t missing anything.

Score: 3.5 out of 5 Ham Sandwiches

(This film is inspired by the classic Judi Barrett book, but it’s a very different story. Still, it’s very entertaining and one of the only non-Pixar animated films worth seeing this year. Kids will love it. Adults won’t mind it.)

Reader Comments (1)

Hooray. The trusty "ham sandwiches" rating system. Never fails.

September 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPacman

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