In the year when all animated films turned to 3D to, bar Up, cover their complete lack of story-telling and filmic ambition, Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs was always going to be up against it to keep its head above fun but uninvolving pack. Films like Monsters Vs. Aliens and Ice Age 3 might have looked nice enough from the surface but they really offered very little beneath the flashy visuals.
Loosely adapted from the 1978 children’s book of the same name, Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs has a head start with the source material still held in high regard. Unlike the book, however, where the town of Chewandswallow is naturally fed three times a day by a range of delicious whether, this film is the story of an aspiring but misunderstood small town scientist.
Crafting a number of backfiring inventions, aspiring scientist Flint Lockwood (Hader) is desperate to prove himself a success and win over the affections of his straight-thinking father (Caan). When at last he thinks he’s onto the invention to really make a name for himself, plus solve world hunger to boot, Flint sets to work on a machine that can convert water into food. When the machine is complete, Flint takes it for a test run, but what he expects to be a simple process turns end up with his creation rocketing across town, ruining the launch of a local theme park and flying up into the clouds, never to return.
Thinking his invention has been lost for good, moments the clouds start to rain down cheeseburgers, and at long long last one of Flint’s ideas proves to be a success. Now the toast of the town, the scientist starts taking orders for anything from a mid-morning pancake shower to dinner time spaghetti storms but when the food starts to rain down in increasing size after Flint ignores the warnings from his computer, he is soon posed with the even greater challenge of stopping the invention from destroying his whole town.
A big step up for Sony Pictures Animation after losing their way on Open Season 2, Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs boasts a heap of laughs along the way in a very entertaining and well written family adventure. While the main dialogue provides a lot of the jokes, it’s numerous funny asides that really make the film such a fun experience. Written and directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, it’s no a surprise to find out the pair where key contributors on the debut season of How I Met Your Mother, co-executive producing 17 episodes, within which, writing two.
Developing a whole new rendering engine for reflective sunlight, the animation really feels like Sony Pictures Animation put in the time an effort to push themselves into new heights. The animation is crisp, colourful and full of life while the food looks sumptuous.
Though Bill Hader sounds perhaps a little old to voice Flint Lockwood in the central role, the whole vocal cast really bring their characters to the screen with exuberance and great energy, from Bruce Campbell as the town’s pushy mayor to Mr. T as a clichéd cop and Neil Patrick Harris as Flint’s sidekick monkey.
Though the plot sticks a little from the second to third act, all in all, Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs is an imaginative idea very well executed on the big screen. What’s more, Lord and Miller make perfect use of 3D mixing gimmicky objects flying out of the screen with wraparound depth creation. Watching Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs in 3D doesn’t feel like extra work for your eyes, a major problems for all films in the extra dimension to date, even footage of the much-hyped ‘revolutionary’ technology in Avatar.
Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs might not be as charming or heartfelt as anything from Pixar film, but bar Up, it’s the best animated film of the year so far.