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3 ½ + Stars: The Perfect "FOOD STORM"...

  • Jan 8, 2010

I’ve often said that American animation studios have always stuck to the usual formulas that I feel that they offer little to no surprises to the experienced movie watcher. They do provide great entertainment for people of all ages though and Phil Lord’s and Christopher Miller’s “CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS” is one good example. Sure the film follows the usual formula of ‘finding oneself’ and ‘standing up for yourself’, but it does offer something pretty fresh as I haven’t seen food on a berserk rampage before (plus it HAS BRUCE CAMPBELL). I guess this is the closest I can get to a ‘food review’.
Flint Lockwell (voiced by Bill Hader) has always been a young man with an inventive mind; even as a kid, he invented outrageous stuff that led to him being picked on for being different. Flint wants to change the world so when his home town of Swallowfalls goes bankrupt after the local sardine factory goes out of business and with the townsfolk stuck to eating their own sardine stock, he invents a machine that can convert water to any food desired. Sure, the invention isn’t exactly perfect but it takes a stroke of fate that the machine ends up in the atmosphere where Flint can give it commands with the use of a satellite. Things are looking up as the town becomes famous for having “pouring food”. However, when the town’s mayor (voiced by Bruce Campbell) pushes Flint and his machine to go further than ever before, the machine begins to overload; there are now hurricane force food storms that threaten to destroy the world. It is now up to Flint, a weather girl named Sam (Anna Faris), his dad (James Caan) and a group of unlikely friends to avert the disaster…let the battle against food begin!

          Bill Hader as Flint Lockwood and Anna Faris as Sam Sparks in "Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs."

                           Sam Sparks in "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs."
The film is pretty creative in its own way. “Cloudy” is one film with a very odd title and I guess the film’s premise makes it that much more odd. The film touches on certain themes about science, abuse, nature and vanity. Flint has a scientific man, his goals are noble, yet his motivations may sometimes be questionable. His dead mother proved to be his inspiration while his father always cautioned young Flint. I guess writer/directors Christopher Miller and Phil Lord wanted to make a commentary that science is still at the mercy of mother nature no matter which way you cut it. Science needs to respect nature and man would do well no to abuse whatever power he has in this world otherwise things can certainly go for the worst. It always has themes about being yourself and being true as exhibited by the personalities of Sam Sparks and Baby Brent (Andy Samberg). It also cautions about greedy powerful, manipulative men who would take advantage of something good for their selfish goals. 

                Earl Devereaux and Cal Devereaux in "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs."

                                   Mayor Shelbourne in "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs."
Now, enough about the film’s central theme. So how does “Cloudy” fare in the entertainment department? Well, the film is quite charming and endearing in many ways. I liked the scenes when Officer Earl (Mr. T) wanted to do a birthday food rain for his son and the budding romance between Flint and Sam did have its significance in its storyline. The film is very colorful and exuded that cool, so ‘cute’ personality about it. The animation is very fluid and some scenes looked like they were lifted from the pages of a story book. While not on the same boat as some of Pixar’s quality in regards to animation, the film’s style does make it work.
“Cloudy” has several scenes undoubtedly played as a homage to “Twister”, “The Day After Tomorrow” and other disaster flicks. There’s a busted dam that spewed out disposed-leftover food, a twister made of spaghetti, giant food that mimicked the scenes from “Volcano” and many more. Hell, there’s even an almost “Independence Day” style of flying against the eye of the food hurricane. But the film doesn’t stop there, there are other ingenious ideas such as ‘peanut brittle deathtraps’, kung fu fighting roasted chicken, and even sabotaging sinister Gummi Bears. Yes, the script seemed to have thought of everything as to ‘food nightmare’. If the film had a flaw it would be that some scenes felt a little rushed and that it moved rather too quickly to let the emotions settle into the viewer. I also wondered as to how a father and son with a sardine “tackle store” can afford all of Flint’s many gadgets. (maybe life insurance?) But there are some real funny moments (albeit some of them were unoriginal) and the sinister turn of town mayor (played by Campbell) just blends in perfectly as the greedy, selfish politician. 

           Bill Hader as Flint Lockwood in "Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs."

                                          A scene from "Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs."
The direction did a lot of things right and very little things wrong with “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”. They managed to balance the visuals with its narrative that they made Flint Lockwood a true underdog story and it always helps when the hero becomes sympathetic and likable. The film also has some great supporting characters with Baby Brent and Flint’s authoritative father. There’s a lot of action, romance and a moral lesson to be had with “Cloudy”; plus enough scenes that can make one think about a ‘good balanced diet’. Heck it is even at times moving. There are many formula animated films out there and “Cloudy” may be one of the best. “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” is slick, fun and is Recommended.
Recommended! [3 ½ + Stars] rounded up because of its attempt at originality.

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January 17, 2010
This made the list of Worst Films of the Year for the one of the guys who doe the new version of At the Movies. The twins loved it though, or so I'm told. I'll be watching it when I can see it for free because I AM a Bruce Campbell completist.
January 17, 2010
Really? Well, all I know is that I had great fun watching it and it is an attempt at something original after all the trite stories about a missing something and that...Bruce Campbell, my queen. Can't go wrong with him.
January 17, 2010
It seemed silly to me to put a kids' film on the 10 worst list, but there it was.
January 17, 2010
I agree. there are worst movies than this I can imagine.
January 17, 2010
Since I go for the lowest of the low budget flix, I have seen far worse than this I can assure you.. Although the worst is usually found in the big budget arena. It's just bad in a totally different way.
January 09, 2010
Cute review! FOOD, you say? ;-)
January 09, 2010
food....food...FOOODDDD!!!! LOL
January 08, 2010
I prefer the book. Much more whimsical and less flashy. Now, had this been "Cloudy with a Chance of Tofu and White Rice" that I would have loved. LOL!
January 09, 2010
How about a hurricane made of pancit and lumpia?! LOL
January 10, 2010
LOL! Well, that would at least be original.
January 08, 2010
I'm so out of the movie loop that I've never heard of this before, but it sounds like my kind of movie!  From the name to the cutesy images and weird plot, I'm going to have to rent this.  I wish my life was cloudy with meatballs... Great review, Woo! :)
January 08, 2010
Did you ever read the cute book?
January 09, 2010
No, I haven't. This is the first I've heard of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs!
January 09, 2010
I am telling yah, Devora, it doesn't just rain meatballs...imagine a snowfall made of different flavored ice cream! That scene was priceless!
January 10, 2010
Jebus... I wish the world were really like this! I wouldn't mind cats and dogs either :P
January 10, 2010
But don't you think it'll be a pain to clean the streets up if you had ice cream and spaghetti sauce splattered all around? No, wait...there is a way. he-he ;-P
January 10, 2010
Just lick it up! World hunger solved! :D
January 08, 2010
OMG, I just finish typing up my review on this and was ready to post until I knock into yours Woo-Woo, I too rated this the same and enjoyed it a lot. You said it paid homage to "Twister", "The Day After Tomorrow" and other disaster flicks which is true........Why didn't I think of that!?!?!?!?!?!?!......O well that's why I got you guys right! Great Review Dark Asian Knight.
January 09, 2010
he-heh. I knew we were going to be on the same wavelength. I'll be right by after I drop a new review tonight.
January 08, 2010
Did you ever read/see the book? A lot of people refused to see it because its so different stylistically from the original book...and I might be one of them. Aha I probably will give it a chance eventually I just think the original book was so darn cool!
January 09, 2010
I haven't read the book yet, but I imagine it to be superior to this film. I try not to compare too much but concentrate on the movie itself. Just give it chance when you're in the right mood, it is fun! How would you like a snow storm of ice cream?... even tofu ice cream.... ;-P
January 08, 2010
This is... a surprise. I skipped over this in the theater because it just looked so goddamn bizarre. But most people seem to like it, and while I certainly considered watching it, I thought it might be a spur the moment kind of thing (I can watch almost anything). I suppose now your review certainly picked up my interest.
January 09, 2010
well it is pretty bizarre but it sure is fun! Just give it a whirl even as a rental...
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Pixar is the modern equivalent of the sweet artistry of Walt Disney's best
   Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s adaptation of Judi and Ron Barrett’s 1978 children’s book is as subtle as a giant pancake crushing a house. It's always a challenge to take a well loved story and adapt it to film. Often it involves cutting much of the story to make the film a manageable length. Fans of books often react negatively to such changes. Without the exposure of the book, the family and I went into this film with an open mine.   In the movie, it starts …
review by . February 01, 2010
This Has Hidden Messages Of Looting And Police Abuse.
   Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie''s plot. What started out to be a funny was still a funny one at the end but apparently someone forgot to tell the producers that we were trying not to give our children any ideas about what to do during a disaster or when they are dealing with cops. I really do not think that in the book about this movie they do not shot looting and cops beating civilians. The kids that watched this show I am sure that they did not notice …
Quick Tip by . July 26, 2010
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I am not a little kid and I generally do not enjoy cheesy kid movies, but this was definitely entertaining. The animation was fantastic, especially the fish bowl and Mr. T's portrayal as a super-dad was great.
Quick Tip by . July 20, 2010
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A surprisingly fun ride that truly brings the classic tale to life. Mr. T as the cop is quite funny.
Quick Tip by . July 19, 2010
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I was very hungry after this film. Its very cute and action packed
Quick Tip by . February 13, 2010
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review by . September 21, 2009
Title: Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs   Director: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller    Staring: Bill Hadar, Anna Farris    Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1    Studio: Sony Pictures    Genre(s): Comedy    Rated:         (For brief mild language)   Buy From Amazon.com: Soundtrack / Video Game (XBox 360) / Video Game (PS3) / Video Game (PSP) / Video Game (Wii) / Video Game (Nintendo DS) / Video Game (PC) / Novel / Poster …
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About this movie


Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is a 2009 computer-animated film produced by Sony Pictures Animation and distributed by Columbia Pictures, was released on September 18, 2009, and is loosely based on the children's book of the same name by Judi Barrett and Ron Barrett.

The film features the voices of Bill Hader, Anna Faris, Bruce Campbell, James Caan, Bobb'e J. Thompson, Andy Samberg, Mr. T, Benjamin Bratt, Neil Patrick Harris, Al Roker, Lauren Graham, and Will Forte. It was written and directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who both are best known for the animated TV series Clone High.

The film is presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio and is shown in 3D in select theaters using RealD Cinema, Dolby 3D and IMAX 3D systems.
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Genre: Family
Release Date: September 18, 2009
MPAA Rating: Unrated

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