Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Movie with Abe: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller
Released September 18, 2009

Adapting a beloved children’s book is always a tricky gamble. That’s especially true when the movie runs considerably longer than the short length of the book, and therefore a significant amount of back story and material has to be added. It’s possible to radically transform a relatively short story into a completely different theatrical movie experience, and sometimes that can turn out to be less than satisfying. In this case, the film adaptation of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” is just as thrilling as the book and equally entertaining.

Animated movies often center on eccentric young protagonists who have trouble fitting into society and only find their true calling once they reach adulthood and their particular personality or skills turn out to be just what everyone needs. Flint Lockwood is just that kind of character, a zany inventor whose creations get him into trouble until one day he succeeds in actually making the sky rain food. The portal of animation allows for unlimited creativity in showcasing Flint’s bizarre concepts, and the special 3-D format (worth the upgrade) certainly enhances the experience.

The animation that brings “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” to life is mesmerizing in the way it visualizes the small sardine-filled island and the way in which Flint changes everything for its residents. When Flint’s invention takes off and food starts to fall from the sky, it’s a wonderfully exciting phenomenon. The colors fly off the screen as pancakes and ice cream scoops drop from above and adorn the rooftops of houses. Like any good food movie, hunger is the obvious result, and it’s truly fascinating to see the way in which food is incorporated into the story of the film. Flint calculates weather patterns based on food, and it’s both fun and brilliant. A film with such a light title is mostly about having a good time, and that’s the effect of this recipe.

The characters and their accompanying voice characters also add tremendously to the overall experience. Flint’s perseverance and inventiveness is endearing, and he’s found the perfect female companion in nerdy weather girl Sam Sparks, who finds it necessary to hide her intelligence and savvy in order to appear air-headed and feminine. The supporting characters, from Flint’s sardine-selling father to the power-hungry mayor, all contribute to creating a marvelous feeling of community in the town. The ensemble is uniformly marvelous, with fabulous voices ranging from the youthful energy of Bill Hader and Anna Faris to the seasoned skill of James Caan and Bruce Campbell. There’s no weak link or flat plotline in this film, and the only question up for debate is whether it’s the food, animation, or cast that serves as its strongest element. In any case, it’s a fine adaptation of a wonderful classic book.


No comments: