The Flick Chicks

Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

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Jacqueline Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
http://www.lasvegasroundtheclock.com
Jacqueline Monahan is an English tutor for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also a consultant for Columbia College Chicago in Adjunct Faculty Affairs
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Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Judi and Ron Barrett’s popular children’s book makes it to the big screen (sometimes in 3-D). That’s just the effect you’ll want to have as food rains down from the sky. Like the Barney song lyrics (yes, I mean the purple dinosaur) “If all the raindrops were lemon drops and gumdrops, oh, what a life I would lead.” Expand that to pancakes and spaghetti and get ready to take a great big bite.

Eccentric inventor Flint Lockwood’s (Bill Hader, voice) spray-on shoes are his first debacle, followed by rat-birds, a walking TV that runs amok, a monkey translator (“hungry, hungry, hungry!”) for his simian pet Steve (Neil Patrick Harris, voice). The town’s lone policeman, Officer Devereaux (Mr. T., voice) has his eye on the young man, thinking him a classic troublemaker.

Flint finally creates a useful machine that turns water into food and accidentally launches it into the sky, causing weather related dining of all kinds. The invention is programmable, meaning that it can be set it for hot dogs or corn on the cob or ice cream. Cheeseburgers start the phenomena that transform sardine canning town Swallow Falls into the tourist town Chewand Swallow.

Mayor Shelbourne (Bruce Campbell) becomes an enormous, scooter riding capitalist. The tiny island town is overrun by cruise ships. The new “it” restaurant is named The Roofless, allowing food to drop onto patron’s plates from the sky above.

Flint is finally a hero in his small town after a lifetime of spectacular failure. When a fledgling weathergirl, Sam, (Anna Faris, voice) comes to town and breaks the story worldwide, Flint is smitten by her inner nerd and brings about a delightful scene in a giant golden palace of courtship made entirely of Jell-O, even the piano.

Another scene features Flint filling a request by Officer Devereaux’s for his son Cal’s (Bobb’e J. Thompson) birthday. A colorful wonderland made entirely of ice cream and candy envelopes the town and Sam gets the scoop, which makes her broadcast gold. Children go sledding and make face down angels in the creamy confection.

Not all is happy in Chewand Swallow though. Flint’s widower dad Tim (James Caan, voice) is uneasy with his son’s success and resulting popularity and wishes he would settle down and run the family bait shop. Meanwhile, the airborne water-to-food transformer becomes dangerously overloaded and is heading into a meltdown which will produce mutant a.k.a. giant food.

The town is obliviously greedy, led by the ever-expanding mayor who sees dollar signs at every turn. Mutant food? Giant food? More is better. Bigger is better. Bring it on. Big mistake as evidenced by a rain of big steak.

Flint and Sam must disable the invention before the entire town is crushed by cholesterol and pounded by protein. The food itself has mutated to the point of going on the offensive, and large roasted chickens pose a threat. They’re headless, but those drumsticks can do some damage. A lengthy aerial battle ensues and the visual effects are stunning. Although these scenes go on a bit too long, the result is a satisfying serving of fun and frivolity that will charm the viewer and encourage concession visits.

First-time feature directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (MTV’s Clone High) remain true to the book, while adding characters that enhance the story. The message here is that it’s okay to show your brains, to be different, and to think outside the box. Lord and Miller lead by example in the inventive tale.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs illustrates in a literal way how life should be lived by taking a large bite out of it. And oddly enough, food has nothing to do with it.

 

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