Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs deliciously makes for a three-course animated meal. Sitting. Thinking. Noting. Researching. Motivating. Reviewing! Lettuce take the thyme to digest the cheesy grate-ness that sub-lime-ly makes time fries at an up-beet pace. Tackling two relation-chip dynamics with clumsy scientist Flint Lockwood, an un-raisin-able son wanting to become an inventor and his less than grilled father who wants him to relish in assisting at the family tackle shop, with the other being two friendly loafers whom share the same loaf for celery-brating all things science. Leaving plenty of mushroom for Flint’s latest invention, a diatonic super mutating dynamic food replicator, going bananas and dipping the townsfolk of Swallow Falls in a weathering pickle. “You have seen a meteor shower, but you have never seen a shower meatier than this”, meteorologist Sam Sparks, and main love interest, reports as juicy hamburgers descend from the sky. Flint must savour the world before it’s caked with viscous syrup. Bon appetite! Orange you glad corny food puns were used to desc-rye-be the feature’s plot? It was hard wok!
Anyway, Lord and Miller’s directorial debut, an adaptation of Barrett’s children’s book, is a colourfully inventive animation that balances its diet of fast-paced action, witty sight humour and heartfelt familial reconciliation. The screenplay on offer showcases the energetic buoyancy that cements Lord and Miller’s talent as capable screenwriters. Not all the jokes land with grace. For example the constant inclusion of “Baby” Brent, the town’s former mascot for sardines, was nothing more than dim-witted slapstick humour. Conversely, the characterisations and mannerisms of Lockwood, his sugar-addicted pet monkey Steve, Sparks, athletic officer Earl and the greedy mayor, all host a wide array of memorability to them. Whether it be participating in an ice cream snowball fight, literally obliterating all of the neighbours on a rampage, or Flint frustratingly trying to navigate his technophobic dad around a desktop to send a simple email with an attachment.
The vast majority of scenes, whilst moderately zestful as children slowly develop diabetes as they constantly digest jelly beans and chocolate cake, impact towards the central character development of Flint and the fractured relationship with his father. As unsuccessful as Flint’s inventions are, he believes he owes it to his deceased mother to pursue his lifelong ambition, forever determined to become the best of the best. His fisherman father, concerned about change and the welfare of his son, never expresses his belief. Therefore, there’s a communicative breakdown that is only emphasised by Earl’s eternal love for his son Cal. Putting aside the gigantic steaks and mustard-covered hot dogs falling from the suspiciously ominous clouds above, this story is about familial appreciation. No matter the end result. Lord and Miller consistently revert to this central theme through several scenes of sincerity. The barrage of fishing puns to accentuate that malfunction in communication between them. Transforming a relatively inevitable conclusion into a transcendental explosion of love.
Spaghetti tornados launching meatballs and a colossal avalanche of leftovers could not replace that poignant sentiment. Naturally, the food meteorology acts as an exercise in creative animation, granting the feature a personality of its own. Its style incredibly digestible, yet pleasantly tasty to glance at. Whilst the character models were somewhat simplistic in comparison, the animation remained vividly colourful and fluid throughout, with plenty of attentive detail for the backdrops. Food is constantly raining down, subconsciously forcing viewers to examine the entire frame to see what tasty item has descended onto the town.
Voice acting was appetising, with Hader and Faris commanding the cast through precise dialogue execution. Faris especially, digesting a burger and exclaiming “I love it”, challenging such method actors including Bale and Day-Lewis. In all seriousness, she was succulent. Mr. T shouting “Flint Lockwood” never fails to conjure smiles, as does Bratt’s Guatemalan committed line “he is in...a food coma”. Samberg was the rotten egg of the bunch, shouting the vast majority of his dialogue with no expression or range.
The anchoring father relationship powers the narrative, unfortunately Flint’s love interest with Sam, more often than not, overwhelms the former bond with forced development that diminishes the fragility with his father. The jelly castle distraction being an acute example of this. Removing the adoration between them would’ve centralised Lord and Miller’s direction with Flint’s father, creating a banquet rather than a main course.
Still, Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs digests its source material and spits out an inventive animation boasting with aesthetic originality and developed characters that will have you screaming for more ice cream. The chest hairs weren’t always tingling, but the sumptuous aftertaste was worth it, leaving you hungry for more.