[Review] Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was not a film I expected to like, and it wasn’t one that I went to see in cinemas for that very reason. It looked like a lot of the generic 3D animated fare of the time, so I skipped over it.
I was encouraged to see it by a friend, and I’m glad I did.
Cloudy is centered on a young man named Flint Lockwood(Bill Hader) who is in love with science, and, of course, ridiculed for it. If the film concentrated on the age old “I’m a nerd and sad about it” trope, it wouldn’t be nearly as charming. Instead, it just breezes over this concept and moves on. Flint is determined to bring something special to his hometown, something that he believes that only he can bring — an amazing invention. Plagued with unappealing food(sardines), Flint decides to make a machine that will make food — any kind of food — out of nothing but water. When an accident sends this device up into the sky, it begins using the water in clouds to rain food down on the appreciative town.
Thrown into the mix is Sam Sparks(Anna Faris), an intern for a local weather news station. Sam also has a love of science, but has repressed it for years because of being ridiculed. Sam appreciates Flint’s inventions, but Flint finds himself still searching for his father’s approval.
The film has a lot of emotional beats to hit, as you can tell. It does a good job of covering all these topics respectfully, while still keeping the emphasis on the upbeat and wild nature of the movie. There are a lot of great sight gags and hilarious jokes, a movie that’s going to be just as amusing for adults as for kids. The characters are all charming, and, if they weren’t enough, there’s a talking monkey named Steve(Neil Patrick Harris). The jokes all come fast enough that even if there are some that aren’t to your taste, it’ll have passed and moved on to the next joke before you even have time to contemplate it.
Cloudy isn’t going to make you cry like a Pixar movie might, but it’s fun, enjoyable, and rewatchable. The animation style itself is amusing and cute, and if all that isn’t enough for you, keep an eye out for Officer Earl Devereaux, played by Mr. T, who is just great.
First, the bad.
Flint’s mom is revealed to be dead near the beginning of the film, after a flashback opening with him as a kid having a heartfelt conversation with her. The only reason for this is to add poignancy to the rocky relationship between Flint and his dad. This is the very definition of fridging — a woman dying in order to further the emotional journey of men. It’s also not even a very good reason. After all, Flint and his dad can have a rocky relationship while still having a positive relationship with his mom.
It’s such a small thing in the movie, only mentioned a couple of times, but I’m just so tired of dead mothers and wives. They’re so common in modern cinema that now I just roll my eyes whenever it happens. If it were less common, it wouldn’t stick out to me so much.
On to the good!
Sam Sparks. A nerdy science girl who is actively encouraged in her love of science! Yay! And the ponytail/glasses trope is not only mocked, it’s reversed. And the male lead finds her more attractive when she’s smart. I think this is great for little girls to see. I’m also enthused to see such an actively pro-woman story in a kids’ movie.