Yesterday I got home to find a copy of the Sony Computer Animated film 'Cloudy with a a Chance of Meatballs' sat on my doormat. A film I knew little more about other than the anecdotal comment from a friend - "It's rather great!" But I've always had a soft spot for computer animated films since, well, since Pixar started making them - and while there have been a few shaky ones out there (the Shrek sequels for example), on the whole I've always enjoyed watching them. Wall-E for example is the one movie where I spent the entire time trying not to whimper like a little girl as I watched it, I still to this day have no idea why it moved me so much - perhaps I identify with robots who pick up trash.
As such I was pretty open to watching this film and went into it with an almost completely blank slate - mostly because I refused to look it up on the IMDB or at Rotten Tomatoes, caused by a bout of lazy-cant-be-arsed-itis (a chronic and terrible disease which should be taken seriously by the medical community before it causes society to grind to a halt).
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (hereafter known as CwaCoM) is a rather whimsical film about a young lad called Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) who grows up wanting to become a famous inventor just like his heroes. But unfortunately his inventions tend to be a tad... how can one put it... ranging from useless to possibly harmful to others. But driven on by the belief of his mother in his ability he keeps trying. The bulk of the movie takes place in his late teens/early adulthood (it's hard to place his age exactly); having invented various things like bird-rats, a translator which allows his monkey (Neil Patrick Harris) to talk and spray on shoes that never come off he comes up with a device which will turn water into food. Something he hopes will revitalise the economy of the little island he lives on and win the approval of his fishing obsessed father Tim (James Caan). Unfortunately the device goes a little... haywire and that's where the fun starts.
He's joined along the way by a cute weather girl called Sam Sparks (Anna Faris); ex-child star Brent (Andy Samberg) and hard nosed local cop Earl (Mr. T), while being encouraged with his endeavors by local Mayor Shellbourne (Bruce Campbell).
CwaCoM is a film which manages to be funny, entertaining, emotional and spectacular to watch. The stylised nature of the characters brings a lot to the film and combined with the frankly excellent dialog and the superb voice acting from the cast and you get something which is fantastic for children and adults alike to watch. It's a film which marries a fun story about inventions, food and the desire to be acknowledged for your achievements to an emotional story about love and the searching for approval between a father and son. Mix in a low key message about food (too much of what you want is not good for you) and you've got a film which I can't help but approve of as a kids movie.
I made some mention of the voice acting talent, but I can't finish without writing about it in some depth. The cast is simply phenomenal and filled with people who give such incredible vocal performances that they continually steal the scene from each other. Bill and Anna are great leads and very capable in their own regards, some of their scenes together are vocally delightful - likewise Jim Caan provides incredible depth as Tim Lockwood - but it's the supporting character performances from Mr T. Bruce Campbell and NPH (amongst others) which really bring the final level of polish onto the film. Each one of them effortlessly steals scenes with little more than the odd line here or there. Mr T. in particular is hilarious as Earl and NPH's performance had me in stitches before I even realised it was he who was cast as the talking monkey Steve.
All in all CwaCoM is a film I really have no hesitation in recommending; it's a relatively short film, but it's packed with everything you want from a good kids movie, a solid moral, fun moments, beautiful exciting action scenes and even something for the adults who've come along to watch as well. It's an accomplished piece and as such I only have one real complaint.
There weren't that many meatballs in the film.
Flint's Food Flight Game
Music Video for 'Raining Sunshine'
Interactive 'Raining Sunshine' Sing-A-Long
Behind the scenes/making of Miranda Cosgrove's "Raining Sunshine" Music Video
Featurette - Key Ingredients: The Voices of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
Progression Reels for scenes in the film.
Early Development Scenes
Trailers for other movies
Featurette - A Recipe for Success: The Making of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Languages: English, Arabic, Hebrew
Run Time: 1hr 26mins
Subtitles: English, Arabic, Hebrew, Hindi
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is out on DVD and Blu-Ray in the UK on the 25th of January.