Thursday, September 25, 2014

Movie #273: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is an animated movie very loosely based on the children's book by Judi and Ron Barrett, and starring Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Bruce Campbell, and Mr. T.

Flint Lockwood (Hader) lives in a tiny island town called Swallow Falls, famous for its sardine fishing and precisely nothing else. Flint is a brilliant inventor, but his inventions never quite work the way he wants, and his slow, steady, fisherman dad (Caan) doesn't quite get him. His mom does, but this being an animated movie, she dies after one scene (she's never named or given any other traits besides "understands Flint", which is typical of moms in these movies), and Flint grows up with his dad, never quite fitting in.

And then one day, Flint tries to get his latest invention, which will make food from water using scientific garbledegook, on the same day that the ambitious mayor (Campbell) tries to turn Swallow Falls into a sardine-based tourist destination. A weather intern named Sam Sparks (Faris) arrives from the mainland to cover it, and Flint destroys Sardineland with his invention...which, upon rocketing into the clouds, makes it rain cheeseburgers. From there, Flint gets seduced by the power of being a new celebrity, but the machine runs wild (with some help from the increasingly Hutt-like mayor), until he, Sam, Sam's Renaissance-man camera operator (Benjamin Bratt), and the reformed bully Brent (Andy Samberg) have to fly up into the clouds of superfood and stop it.

Oh, and there's a monkey that, with the help of Flint's Monkey Translator, can speak in one-word phrases, voiced by Neil Patrick Harris. "STEVE!"

So, I have some issues with this movie, but they're mostly the mom thing. Generally, I think it's really funny. I like that the secondary cast is pretty well realized (I mean, they're not deep or anything, but most of them have at least some attempt at backstory and a couple of them even have character arcs, which is nice). It holds up pretty well to repeat viewing, and Steve the Monkey stays funny. I think that Sam's dilemma of being a nerdy but still conventionally attractive girl who wants to be a scientist rings somewhat true (as women in STEM are often reminded). If I wanted to overanalyze, I'd say that the "dead mom" thing is more noticeable because there's such a strong theme of "dads showing love and appreciation for their sons," as exemplified by the local cop's (Mr. T) love of his little boy, as compared to Flint's father, who doesn't have the language to express what he feels.

There are a lot of little background jokes, too, that make the movie more interesting, and help it hold up to repeated viewing. Steve is far and away my favorite, though.

My Grade: B+
Rewatch value: High

Next Up: The Hunger Games