Rewind Review: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
As those who know me, and if such a person exists, cyberstalk me, know I created this blog after writing on another site, which shall remain nameless, for a while. The point is, I have material sitting around waiting to be re-used on occasion I will re-post them here. Some of those articles or reviews may have been extemporaneous at the time but are slightly random now, hence the new title and little intro, regardless enjoy!
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009)
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is the rare film that can keep the energy, verve and humor of an animated short through the course of a feature film. It is also a prime example of the modern equivalent of irreverent humor which would be better described as “random,” which would be typified by television programming such as Family Guy and the works of Dan Schneider such as iCarly, The Amanda Show, etc. The film manages to be consistently funny in an off-the-wall kind of way, which is quite difficult.
Yet simultaneously it also managed to have the things you needed to move the story along and not just the novelty of the science. There was the love interest which was instantly established with witty dialogue which shows that Sam Sparks and Flint Lockwood are meant to be as she instantly realizes the purpose of all his wild inventions. There is of course the inevitable moment where Flint’s success breeds blindness and slight megalomania and causes him to mistreat his love, but what is refreshing is that their parting doesn’t unnecessarily extend the film. As might happen in reality the reconciliation happens nearly without words needing to be exchanged and there is no undue, overly-long apology.
The father-son dynamic is also an underpinning of this humorous and whimsical tale that doesn’t in and of itself add itself as an obstacle but rather adds texture to the tale and also serves as the device that makes Flint realize that his invention that has been causing it to rain food has gone wild.
What drives Lockwood to lose perspective is pressure applied by Mayor Shelbourne, given life by Bruce Campbell in a very good role, who wants to use the machine to make Swallow Falls a tourist attraction and in the process he becomes morbidly obese. It would be a new claim to fame for the sardine fishing island which displaces ‘Baby’ Brent, the sardine mascot, who in his-mid thirties coasts on that fame and is one of the funniest characters in the film voiced by Adam Samberg of SNL fame.
While typically a voice cast should be invisible, meaning anonymous or unrecognizable in the part, the standout was someone who was distinctive and recognizable but yet managed to play a character and not a caricature. The local police officer Cal Devereaux played by Mr. T, yes that Mr. T, was one of the better characters and the funniest performance – and he didn’t even have to say “I pity the fool.” However, most of the cast was invisible as mentioned, case in point Neil Patrick Harris was Steve the monkey with the thought-translator strapped on which was just a small example of the random humor as well as Flint saying what he’s doing, vocalizing a fake score, or a face in the crowd saying something wild like “I’ve got a macaroni on my head” when that is the case.
The only thing in the film that gives you pause is that the camera man, Manny, is a walking deus ex machina. When someone capable of being a doctor and flying a makeshift plane is needed we learn that the man who has been there but unseen can do both these things. Even though it allows for one very good joke about how he was a doctor in Guatemala it was somewhat odd that he also had emergency supplies on him and then was also able to fly. In a film this irreverent it takes a lot to say “come on” but that did it.\
With the pervasiveness of 3-D it hardly ever seems worth mentioning. In this film, however, that is not the case and it in fact enhanced the experience especially the scenes within the machine-turned-meatball which were rendered much more realistic and interesting due to the fact that they were in 3-D.
All in all it is a very enjoyable experience that far surpassed this critic’s expectations and speaking as one who was unfamiliar with the tale it is likely to entertain most.