Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

by Rick Grant, Commentary
Based on the beloved children’s book by Judi and Ron Barrett, this animated 3D feature includes the authors’ subtle life lessons while delivering fantastic food from the sky. The cuisine is a miracle of Flint Lockwood’s (Bill Hader) bizarre invention. It converts water form the clouds into food of his choosing.
As a kid Flint’s a young geek who is shunned by other kids while he invents walking televisions and spray on shoes. His dad Tim, who speaks in fishing metaphors, wants Flint to help him at his bait and tackle store. But, Flint is on the verge of a great discovery in his giant lab built onto his house. However, to please his dad he makes a token effort to work in his store.
The town has fallen onto hard times. It’s one industry, sardines, are not selling well anymore. So, Flint figures that his invention could put the no-nothing town on the map. The greedy Mayor has unveiled an amusement park devoted to sardines-hardly an exciting tourist attraction.
At the dedication ceremony, Flint needs more power, so he taps into the town’s substation and it sends him flying like a rocket. His conversion unit ends up in the sky melding with the clouds. A storm is brewing, and suddenly hamburgers fall from the sky
At first, it seems like a wonderful thing to order any food and it falls from the sky. Flint becomes the town hero for his invention that gets world recognition. People travel to the town which has become a tourist destination.
Writer-directors, Phil Lord and Chris Miller use clever animation techniques that make the characters come alive with adult humor, which doesn’t spoil the physical comedy for the kids. It’s fast moving with spectacular special effects. The sweet romance between Flint and Sam Sparks (Anna Faris) never goes beyond the first kiss stage.
Sam’s character is a young woman who is hiding her above average intelligence to become a weather girl on the local station. Flint encourages her to be herself and wear her glasses and let her intelligence shine. Of course, this is another not so subtle life lesson that teaches girls not to be influenced by peer-pressure to conform to ridiculous standards of conformity.
Frankly, I still consider 3-D a cheap-thrill gimmick not worth the time and effort. Admittedly, though, today’s 3-D is much better than in the past. However, 3-D doesn’t really add anything to the story or special effects. Happily, this story moves at a rapid pace as Flint’s invention becomes a nightmare for the town and the world.
Giant meatballs and hotdogs fall from the sky and cause disastrous damage to the town. Then it becomes like a super-tornado that threatens New York City. Now, it’s up to Flint to save the world from his food making machine gone mad.
Adults and children will enjoy this film. It proves that too much of a good thing is bad for you. But, it’s a great kids’ fantasy.