Saturday, June 05, 2010

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

What happens when an inept, yet well intentioned, scientist invents a machine that will turn water into food? Odd weather. Wait... it’s a bit more than odd. A spaghetti tornado, a mansion hand carved from jello, streets covered with ice cream. And sentient food. Not just food that is capable of thought, but edible products with malicious self-persevering instincts.

Cloudy presents us with a solid (yet unconventional) premise. A neglected nerd has spent his childhood dreaming of making inventions that would solve the world’s problems. He wants to be a scientist and avoid following in the footsteps of his sardine selling father. But his hometown is in an economic downturn because the rest of the world has discovered that it’s only export (sardines) taste “super gross.” Now that sardines are not being purchased by the rest of planet earth, Swallow Falls has a sardine surplus. Flint Lockwood (dorky scientist) builds a machine that transforms the molecular structure of H2O into delicious meals in hopes that he can provide his neighbors something to eat other than sardines. The experiment is interrupted by an anal retentive cop, and the machine shoots off into the stratosphere.

Then it starts raining food.

With the prodding of the town’s mayor and the companionship of a meteorologist (and reformed nerd), Flint provides a bountiful buffet. But, as foreshadowed early in the film, Flint’s invention creates more chaos than intended and the gourmet precipitation escalates into a globe-encompassing perfect storm.

What impressed me:
The casting. Napolian Dynamite as the bumbling scientist, Anna Faris as his romantic interest, and Mr T as the acrobatic cop were perfect choices.
The voice work. The voices might have been stereotyped, but it worked.
The food. The attention in the animation was devoted to the food - brilliantly colored, and dazzling in both absurdity and surrealism.
The story. This is one that is as important for parents as it is for kids. Thematically, it urges parents to encourage our kids’ eccentricities and to lovingly support all of the weird things they do.

The stuff that was a bit disappointing:
Mean spirited humor. The movie was largely devoid of crude humor. No fart jokes or double entendres. However the script writers replaced the crass with the cruel. Insults and teasing were in plentiful supply.
Character animation. The artistic quality of the human characters lacked the devotion given to the inanimate objects. The animation of the living was angular and disproportionate. They were more caricatures than characters.
Baby Brent (Andy Samberg). Again, the casting choice here was excellent, but the grown (overweight) man in diapers was a bit disturbing.

Overall, it’s a delightful movie for both kids and parents. Enjoyable, but not stellar.

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