Director(s): Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
Starring: Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Neil Patrick Harris (all voice)
I have always had this preconceived idea that ‘Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs’ would be a really silly film, even by child standards. The mouthful of a title is ridiculous enough to warrant the opinion that I wouldn’t enjoy this film. I’m always open to the animated family film genre, especially with my daughter, but neither of us have ever particularly been particularly bothered about this offering. All you need is a lazy Saturday and a Netflix account though, so we came to the mutual agreement that we should give it a chance. It was either that, or something with Barbie as the lead!
Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader) always had a certain creative flair, inventing wacky contraptions from a young age. These inventions however, are always going wrong, most notably the rat-birds that circle the skies of Swallow Falls. The only sustenance available here is sardines, creating a drab existence for the inhabitants of Flint’s hometown. When Flint manages to finally get it right, by turning rain into food – from cheeseburgers to ice cream and everything in between – he is hailed as a hero. But gluttony consumes the town and Flint must stop his invention, with the help of weather reporter Sam (voiced by Anna Faris) and his faithful sidekick Steve the monkey, before his town is flooded by fatty foods.
The characters here were pretty average, by the standards set by other animated films they were far from outstanding. A vibrant colour palette is introduced after Flint’s machine takes to the sky, which offers an impressive animated feature to rival the best of them though. The entertainment value for ‘CWACOM’ (Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs) comes more from the unique and interesting storyline rather than the usual supply of humour; there were moments I had a chuckle but nothing to threaten splitting the sides. During the film I did my usual IMDb browse to see who directed, and was surprised to discover that it was the dream team of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. At first this put a bit of a rose tint on proceedings and I started to look for the good, but by the end I couldn’t help but feel a little let down by what was very noticeably an early, unrefined project of theirs.
Down to what really matters: what did my 5 year old daughter think. She agreed with me – or maybe vice versa, she is very persuasive – that the film wasn’t particularly funny; it only drew a couple of proper laughs from her and we usually can’t stop her laughing. Because of this, the film kinda lost her in the middle and she even unleashed the dreaded “boring” tag once or twice. But ‘CWACOM’ is salvaged by its innovative subject matter and some good characterisation – she particularly liked Steve the monkey, of course. I think the sheer madness of it all is a win for Lord and Miller; you’re bound to do okay when you have 6ft tall roast chickens being worn like a suit (the highlight for a certain tiny critic), and that all important happy ending of course.
My daughter gave ‘CWACOM’ a low 6 rating, but then again she is a very harsh critic. As far as a family film goes, I think this is a perfect choice. It’s an reasonably entertaining film for both parties, but you’re unlikely to find a child wanting to watch this over and over on a weekly basis, like some of the other addictive animated movies (cough ‘Frozen’ cough). Plus, it does of course promote the healthy message that greed and junk food are very, very bad.