What an enjoyably funny, crazy movie.
Have you ever been so hungry that you wished food fell from the sky? Or so broke that you hoped money fell instead? Yes, of course you have. I’m sure everyone has. Well, Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs gives us an idea of what it’d be like if our precious rain was replaced by burgers, chips, ice cream, hot dogs, and the lot. Sounds heavenly doesn’t it? Yes, till things go incredibly wrong.
Based loosely on an old children’s book — of the same name — that details a little town’s precipitation morphed into delectable food, the movie follows Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader), a whacky kid with a love of science. When he was small, he created Spray-On Shoes as part of a school project to rectify the untied shoelace epidemic. It worked fine, till he realised he couldn’t get them off, much to the amusement of the rest of his class. Dejected, he resigns himself to the fact that he’s not meant for science. Yeah, that old chestnut.
But then, his mum gives him a real (fake) lab coat, and it suddenly gives him the inspiration to become the best geek in town.
Jump forward a few years, and Flint still has on the same pair of spray-on shoes. I wonder what condition his feet are in. His mum has died and he now lives with his dad, a big bald man with little legs, with no discernible eyes — except in a couple of scenes — and a unibrow that matches his moustache in thickness. He owns a bait and tackle shop and often implores his son’s help, but Flint is too busy trying to improve the world. Flint spends most of his time up in his gigantic makeshift treehouse lab in the backyard, and when his town’s sardine canning industry collapses, he manufactures a device that can change water into any sort of food imaginable. Of course, it goes haywire, and zooms into the clouds, sucking in all their moisture. (I say “any sort of food” because Flint never mentions any limitations. It’s interesting, then, that all the food that comes out of the machine happens to be food only kids would thoroughly enjoy.)
But never mind. That’s not important. At first, the town rejoices in their edible rain, and the greedy town mayor, Shelbourne (Bruce Campbell), decides to piggyback the phenomenon and convert the entire island town into a tourist attraction. Shelbourne is a pig, for a lack of a better word. He’s greedy, gluttonous, and villainous, but at the same time, he’s immensely entertaining. As is the town’s copper, Officer Earl Devereaux. Voiced by Mr. T, Earl is the very paradox of muscle mass. He’s huge, but he’s agile, flexible, and he can somersault better than an acrobat. He’s my favourite character.
And that’s what I like about Cloudy. It has interesting characters, and it takes the time to let us get to know them. They are also one of the craziest bunch of people I have ever seen on screen, and their ceaseless energy is perfect for the kind of mood directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller are trying to achieve. The comedy comes really hard and really fast, and sometimes the characters speak so quickly that we might miss a joke or two. Watch Flint narrate every step he takes when assembling a device, or him trying to pronounce his invention — the FLDSMDFR. It’s one of the movie’s funniest moments.
But Cloudy is not all jokes and laughter and insanity. The crumbling relationship between Flint and his dad, Tim, actually surprised me, and grew to be one of the movie’s more poignant aspects. Maybe it’s the fact that I couldn’t see Tim’s eyes, or that his voice — James Caan — is perpetually downcast. Their relationship also addresses the Generation Gap issue, with Flint turning down his father for more hip and ambitious goals, never stopping to consider his concerns. And when the fate of the world rests on Tim’s shoulders, his struggle to get to grips with his son’s super advanced technology is sharply executed, and subtly powerful.
Of course, a device like this will most probably never be invented, and we will have to live out the rest of our days with nothing but water falling from the skies. But imagine if it does happen. Imagine eating a cooked pizza directly from the clouds. Imagine how quickly the obesity rate will climb. The upside is we’ll never have to cook or buy another meal. The downside is we’ll most probably die of eventual dehydration. But oh the pizza…
Best Moment | There are a lot. In fact, I enjoyed almost every other minute of this movie, so much so that I’m finding it difficult to remember my favourite moments.
Worst Moment | Nope.