Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: Prepare to Be Served (2009)

Posted: December 17, 2011 in Animated, Comedy, Family

Growing up, Flint Lockwood has always been in search of the next big invention. Discouraged by the failure of his spray-on shoes, the support of his mother kept him focused. As a young adult, he is still searching, but not without disdain by the surrounding community of Swallow Falls. As the mayor is about to unveil great news for the town suffering the lack of interest in their sardine industry, Flint perfects and launches his food transformation machine into the atmosphere, inadvertently destroying the mayor’s surprise. As Flint meets the reporter, Sam Sparks, who covering the story of the failed theme park, hamburgers begin to fall from the sky and prove that Flint’s efforts have finally been successful. The mayor sees this as a new tourist attraction and flint becomes the hero of Swallow Falls, now renamed Chewandswallow. Pushing the machine to the limit, mutations start to form in the food, causing the size to slowly begin to increase. As the food machine starts to go out of control, Flint and Sam have to find a way to get to the machine and shut it down before the gigantic food destroys the world.

Starring: Bill Hader (Flint Lockwood), Anna Faris (Sam Sparks), James Caan (Tim Lockwood), Andy Samberg (‘Baby’ Brent), Bruce Campbell (Mayor Shelbourne), Mr. T (Earl Devereaux), Bobb’e J. Thompson (Cal Devereaux), Benjamin Bratt (Manny), Neil Patrick Harris (Steve), Al Rocker (Patrick Patrickson), Lauren Graham (Fran Lockwood), Will Forte (Joe Towne)

This animated film includes a number of great vocal talents. As the geeky inventor Flint, Bill Hader gives a different sort of animation to his already recognizable voice. He is able to project a sense of wonderment and intrigue through his character’s high energy and adventurous spirit. Also able to project a very high-spirited persona, Anna Faris serves as the secretly nerdy news intern turned reporter. She projects a similar wonderment to help match Hader’s energy. The most recognizable vocal talent is Mr. T as Earl Devereaux, the town’s police officer. With his son Cal, played by Bobb’e J. Thompson, they provide a bit of direct conflict for Flint and memorable lines to take away from the film. As his father Tim, James Caan provides the stoicism of a father who fails to understand his son and lives in the past with more traditional means. Andy Samberg as ‘Baby’ Brent and Bruce Campbell as the mayor also help to support the story and gives some memorable vocal performances as well.

Phil Lord and Chris Miller took a children’s story that was only 32 pages long and found a way to make it a feature film. The original story was about a grandfather talking about a town that rained meals each day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. As the food became too much to handle, the town had to leave on boats made of giant sandwiches. In a sequel to the story, the grandfather talks about the return to the island. The movie takes a fairly different approach to highlight how the food rain started and eliminated the grandfather’s storytelling from this version. Flint’s invention ended up becoming the source of the food and the film looks at some greater issues of conflict, including Flint’s falling in love with Sam and his challenges with being misunderstood by his father. While the food becomes a problem for the town, it occurs due to the greed of the people of Swallow Falls and the lack of attention by Flint to notice his invention was getting overloaded. All of these additions help to extend the original story to fill a full film’s length of time with quality story elements.

The animators used a number of interesting techniques to create this film. First of all, the animation is very smooth and would certainly make the 3-D easy to watch (though I did not view this film with the 3-D). Even with the smooth animation, there was quite of bit of detail provided in the wrinkles in people’s clothing or the detail and movement of each character’s hair. Though some of the emotions were repeated and simplified, they help to add to the wonderment the film projects through its experimenting protagonist. With all of the action toward the end of the film with the destructive food, the detail was surprisingly well coordinated.

This fun children’s story may be a little overstretched, but it is still very entertaining. Some solid messages and life lessons are good for the whole family and the monkey is also an entertaining character.

Dan’s Rating: 3.0/5

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