Sunday, November 16, 2014

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

It’s not often that I get to see an animated film in theaters.  I have to wait until school starts to even consider it.  There are some, like Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, that I want to see in theaters because they’re released in 3 D.  (Fortunately, it was released just after the start of the school year.)

The movie is about a man named Flint Lockwood.  He’s been an inventor since he could pick up two things and put them together.  (His mother was always more understanding of this than his father.)  Tim Lockwood wants his son to do something more practical, like get a job.  Flint’s not ready to give up inventing.  Yes, he takes a job, but manages to invent a machine that can turn water into food.

This is good for a town that has way too many sardines.  (The local sardine-packaging plant shut down, leaving the residents with plenty to eat.)  If all goes well, Flint will be able to dial up any food that he wants.  As you might expect, Flint’s initial experiment fails.  Not only does he embarrass himself, but there’s no food from water.  At least, not yet.

Eventually, a weather system moves in and starts pouring food on the island.  Everyone is happy.  Flint has gone from being the town joke to a hero, surpassing ‘Baby’ Brent in popularity.  (Baby Brent was the baby used in advertising for the packaging plant, his only claim to local fame.)

People are making all sorts of requests, from spaghetti and meatballs to filet mignon.  It isn’t long before problems start appearing and Flint realizes he has to shut everything down.  Not so easy for a town that has become dependent on his invention and an invention that doesn’t want to be shut down.

The movie is pretty basic.  You have an unlikely hero who eventually has to make a difficult choice between finally being successful and doing the right thing.  It’s meant more for a younger audience.  (The movie is based on a children’s picture book.)  There are a few references that adults will get, but I can see a lot of adults feeling like they were dragged to see the movie.

I enjoyed watching it; don‘t get me wrong.  I have to admit that if I had to pick a movie to show adults to get them hooked on animation, this probably wouldn’t be it.  It’s a little too generic and safe to show that animation has the same range as live-action films.  The appearance of the characters was very exaggerated and cartoonish.  I could see this turning a lot of people away from animation.

It’s easy to identify with a main character that’s isolated.  He has a lot of good ideas, like spray-on shoes, that don’t work out.  Flint just wants to be accepted.  Even the love interest, Sam Sparks, is an intern looking for her big break as a reporter.  The mayor of the town is looking to recapture past glory with an amusement park, but co-opts Flint’s invention.  (Not exactly the acceptance that Flint wanted, but he’ll take it.)

The story is simple, yet entertaining.  At 90 minutes, it’s not too big of a commitment.  If you have kids or you like animated movies, I’d recommend renting it. 

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