Feb 1, 2010

[Movies] Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (2009)

Cloudy With a Chance of MeatballsChildren's books will always have a very high potential for getting turned into animated feature films since (1) book sales will help determine existing interest in the story, (2) family-friendly content means more potential viewers and (3) it saves you a lot of time and effort in terms of writing the actual story.

Such movies tend to be rather hit or miss really, but at the very least they tend to sell well with the kiddies. The greater challenge is to present the movie in such a way that even the parents watching with their kids have something to enjoy. We've seen some movies succeed in this kind of cross-generation targeting such as with the Shrek franchise, but beyond that the results are a bit too unpredictable for movie studios to clearly gamble on.

So I'm glad when some really entertaining animated movies come along, even without them coming from the ever-popular Pixar or something like that.

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 12: Bill Hader and...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is a 3D animated movie based on a children's book of the same name. The story follows the life of amateur inventor Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) of the small island town of Swallow Falls. Here everyone is forced to eat nothing but sardines after the local Baby Brent Sardines factory closed down due to everyone realizing sardines are gross. Flint decides to try and invent a machine that turns water into food in order to break the eating ennui and this leads to most unusual results - food falling from the sky as a weather phenomenon. All this is tracked and reported by weather intern Sam Sparks (Anna Faris) whom Flint finds oddly attractive.

This is definitely one of those cases when deviating from the original story really benefited the end result - this being the movie. The whole scientist angle was never part of the original story - that was just about an island that had food for weather three times a day. The introduction of Flint Lockwood and his entire story was a great medium for trying the story together and it certainly made for a very entertaining film.

It really helped that the writing was pretty awesome and the movie was definitely funny all throughout. Given that I am a bit of a geek (hehe) and perhaps the reason I was laughing the whole time was more because of the geekiness of the humor and not just the movie being plain funny could be a factor, I still think a lot of people will enjoy it. There's a lot of repeated gags that work on many levels and I can imagine kids enjoying all the sequence of repetition while older folks will have to at least chuckle a bit every time Steve goes into his inventing mode complete with self-narration of his actions.

The fact that movie was also made available in 3D didn't really strike me. I mean sure, there were a lot of entertaining 3D bits in the movie but I felt they underutilized the technology. Heck, the trailers for the new Toy Story were a lot more impressive in a 3D sense compared to the entire movie.

The film has some GREAT voice talents other than the names I already highlighted. You could definitely detect the rich comedic talent they had gathered with voice talents like Neil Patrick Harris, Bruce Campbell, Andy Samberg, Will Forte and none other than Mr. T himself! Plus there were other interesting casting choices like James Caan and Benjamin Bratt in other key roles.

Overall, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is a pretty funny film in a rather geeky way although you may not necessarily have to dole out the extra cash to see it in 3D. It gets 4 sentient pizza slices out of a possible 5.

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