By Dirk Sonniksen | September 18, 2009
Director(s): Phil Lord, Chris Miller
Writer(s): Judi Barrett and Ron Barrett (book)
Phil Lord and Chris Miller (screenplay)
Starring: Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Neil Patrick Harris, MR. T, Bruce Campbell, Andy Samberg, Benjamin Bratt
The town of Swallow Falls processes sardines-that’s all it does. It’s a drag for a young, budding scientist like Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader), so he invents stuff to keep his mind off the general dreariness of the situation. None of his inventions are particularly practical, one being a device that makes food out of water. His dad is less than enthused with Flint’s dream, and instead urges him to work at the family’s sardine bait and tackle shop. But Flint will have none of it, and decides to test his experiment during the grand opening of the town’s sardine theme park.
Meanwhile, Sam Sparks (Anna Faris), an awkward intern from a local TV station is sent to cover the theme park’s opening. Through a series of wacky and somewhat misshapen events, Flint’s experiment works, and to the obvious astonishment of the town, hamburgers begin to rain from the sky. Sparks’ coverage is ruined, but she suddenly realizes the potential media appeal of the events unfolding in Swallow Falls. Not all that coincidentally, Flint and Sam take a shine to one another.
Flint quickly graduates from town freak to local hero, to international sensation. Seizing his chance for fame and fortune, the town antagonist, Mayor Shelbourne (Bruce Campbell) begins a tourism campaign to cash in on Flint’s genius. Now everyone can come to Shallow Falls for their dream meal, delivered from above. But Flint’s machine, hovering high above the town is working overtime, and the demand for food is causing some unforeseen consequences.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is what most film-goers have come to expect in digital 3D, although it is certainly not as fulfilling visually as Up. Sony is still getting their feet wet in the animation waters, and this one’s an improvement over previous endeavors, but truth be told, they ain’t no Pixar. While you’ll definitely get the in-your-face 3D experience, I found myself at times wondering why I was forced to don a pair goofy 50s-style glasses.
There are plenty of laughs for the kids and adults, with the talking monkey Steve (Neil Patrick Harris) taking top honors for laugh-out-loud factor. Hader and Faris work well together, contributing the funny, romantic ingredient required for all movies in this genre. James Caan provides the voice of Flint’s technologically-challenged father Tim Lockwood, and provides perhaps the only heartfelt moments of the film. Mr. T is nerve-jarring as Officer Earl Devereaux, at times a bit stereotypical and annoying. Baby Brent (Andy Samberg) is funny for the first few scenes with the “uh-oh” line, but then it just becomes redundant and dull.
The first hour of Meatballs was funny and imaginative, with a great initial story line. I enjoyed the opening sequence with Flint as a kid dreaming big in his bedroom. Flint’s relationship with his father and Sam was endearing and the overall tale of the town, it’s history, and how the story began to unfold was wonderful. After that, it became a bit of a mess, turning into an action movie that had me scratching my head, wondering what was happening. It’s not that it was inappropriate for the film, it just somehow made the movie feel disjointed. There were a few redeeming moments for the finale, but it couldn’t save it for me. I was marginally pleased with Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, but overall, it fell a little flat…like a giant pancake from the sky!
Yeah, there’s one in the movie.