Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is the story of a crazy inventor who lives in a town forced to live off tinned sardines. He builds a machine capable of making it rain delicious food, but things turn sour when the town’s mayor exploits the invention to bring in tourism. Will he get his just desserts?
It’s like Up in the sense of being a high concept “wouldn’t it be great if this happened” film designed to appeal to children’s fantasies, and also in the inclusion of an animal with a vocaliser. The monkey here is far less annoying than the dogs in Up, however, which is a bonus.
The basic idea of the film is very fun, particularly scenes involving it snowing ice cream, and a castle made of jelly, which allow for some innovative animation. There’s also an intriguingly unconventional romance between the inventor, Flint (Bill Hader) and aspiring meteorologist Sam (Anna Faris).The brand of humour it opts for is quick and self referential, and feels something like Futurama meets the latest Muppet movie.
I also really liked what it had to say about the economic crisis, and the impoverished town finding a solution to its problems that’s not as good as it at first seems. This is clearly an analogy for the 2008 bailout, as the film argues that the further housing bubble that’s been built on cheap credit is doomed to fail. If this scathing attack on the US treasury department and congressional prevarication wasn’t enough, it also ploughs into the global warming debate, making the case for the idea that carbon emissions from agriculture may appear to provide short term benefits in terms of the food supply, but that ultimately they will cause lasting damage to the environment. In Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs the blame lies firmly with the politicians as the greedy mayor of Swallow Falls lines his pockets, an analogy for big oil, while small businesses and young families lose out. It also poses important philosophical questions about meat consumption. With artificial burgers likely to become popular in future, the question is often asked whether vegetarians would eat one, as no animals have died. This film takes the idea further and asks if we should eat meat that’s fallen from the clouds. Is there a cost that’s greater than the money saved?
OK, so I exaggerate a little, but it was nice to see a kids film that praises intelligence, and actually shows someone being more attractive for having glasses and pigtails. It also includes Mr T as the town’s only policeman, lending his unique voice to the larger than life character that appears to be written for him.
Altogether this is a nice, fun little film that crams in a lot of gags of varying quality. It’s a fast food film: quick, easy and tasty.