Film review – Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009)

Sam Sparks (voiced by Anna Faris) and Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader)

Based on the 1978 children’s book by husband and wife team Judi and Ron Barrett, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is about an aspiring young inventor named Flint Lockwood. Flint lives on the island sardine fishing town Swallow Falls, which is facing a deep economic depression ever since sardines were declared to be “super gross”. When Flint invents a machine that turns water into food and then accidentally launches that machine into the stratosphere, he inadvertently saves the town when it starts to rain food. However, just when things are looking up for Flint, the food starts to mutate, resulting in bigger and bigger portions falling from the heavens to threaten not only Swallow Falls but the entire world.

Bill Hader energetically provides the voice for Flint and after doing so many scene-stealing comedic supporting roles in films such as Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, Adventureland and Tropic Thunder it is nice to see Hader (well, his voice anyway) getting a lead role. Anna Faris (The House Bunny and The Scary Movie films) is also terrific voicing Sam Sparks, weather presenter and Flint’s love interest. After Princess Fiona’s transformation in Shrek, the moment in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs when Sam drops her faux ditz act to reveal her inner nerd provides one of the more impressive statements in a family film about what qualities make somebody attractive. Other impressive voice-roles include James Caan as Flint’s distant yet endearing father, Bruce Campbell as Swallow Falls’s corrupt and inept mayor and Mr. T as an over zealous police officer.

The computer-generated animation nicely facilitates the rapid-fire humour and increasingly bizarre spectacle of giant items of food falling from the sky. A lot of attention has been paid to the characters’ facial expressions so that characterisation is not secondary to the action. The humour in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is often anarchic, wicked, random and very funny. This is a fun film with a lot of spirit. It is filled with wonderfully dreadful food puns and even effectively parodies disaster films. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs has a lot going for it and it is honestly very difficult to say anything bad about a film that includes a complete throw-away gag where a man rips his own beard off for no good reason.

© Thomas Caldwell, 2009

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