Like the children's book of the same name that the movie is based on, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is set in the island city of Swallow Falls, which is located in under the "A" in "Atlantic Ocean" on maps. That seems like an awfully flexible location to me, but whatever; the important thing to point out is that this story takes place in a foreign land, but everyone speaks like normal Americans!
|"...and finally, we will subvert the youth of America by showing how rad Not-America is, what with all the raining spaghetti and whatnot."|
Since I'm unfamiliar with Sony Pictures Animation, I'll start by commenting on how the movie looks. Um, it looks fine. That was easy. I like that they went with more cartoony character designs than we've been seeing in most animated movies lately; there's a lot of extremely tall/short and thin/thick combinations going on here, so it's fun seeing a company that is willing to have fun with the designs of its human characters for a change. Aside from that, this has all the polish that you would expect from a computer animated film that cost about $100 million to make.
|Oh, sure. When it rains cheeseburgers in this movie, they look like the Whoppers from commercials. If I made it rain burgers, they would look like the crap I get in the drive-thru.|
|"Cuz after allllll...you're my wunderwaaaaaallll..."|
So, how does the movie hold up? I have to admit, the first half is pretty cute. The pace is quick, the humor is story- and character-based, and it sets up the protagonists to win audiences over. Who doesn't want the girl who is ashamed of her brains to build up some confidence, or the nerd who always fails to finally do something right? And if the second half of the film built upon that base, this could have been a great movie. It doesn't. Once the food starts raining, things just get random. I understand that, in this post-Family Guy world, random humor is fairly popular now, but the second half of the movie feels cheap in comparison to the rest. The gags are mostly visual or based on annoying characters. The one saving grace the second half contains is a surprisingly touching speech from Flint's dad. I guess it all boils down to this: do you actually care about these characters as the film ends? For me, the answer is "no." While I support the Danica McKellar model for intelligence in pretty girls, I found Anna Faris' character to be kind of weenie-ish, and her transformation to girl-empowered was nothing special. Flint is flawed, which I like, but either through the writing or Bill Hader's voice acting, his troubles all seemed superficial to me. None of the supporting cast stuck out enough to salvage this movie as comic relief, which makes the misuse of a talking monkey all the more tragic.
|How do you misuse this?!?|
If you're wondering if children will enjoy watching this movie, the answer is yes. Kids will watch almost anything, and this is a movie that aims for the ADD crowd. It is definitely random, but occasionally funny. If you're looking for something light and inconsequential, there are worse choices than this effort by co-writers/co-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. I just wasn't impressed. The characters were shallow or painfully obvious, the film's talent was assigned to seemingly random roles, and the story gives way to repetitious silliness for the last 40 minutes or so. On the other hand, if you want to see a movie with people eating food off the ground, I can't think of a better choice, because the others are probably fetish videos.