Thursday, October 01, 2009

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Let There Be Food!

Don't watch this on an empty stomach, or in 3D if you're hungry, otherwise you're likely to find yourself reaching out at the screen to want to touch those food products that get constantly rained down from the screen. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is extremely delightful, and could give Pixar's Up a run for its money in both the storyline and the visuals department. And given Sony Pictures Animation's not too bloated filmography with memorable offerings such as Monster House, Open Season and Surf's Up, this film proved that their formula is gaining traction, and we should be in for more treats in future.

Bill Hader voices Flint Lockwood, an eccentric inventor who just loves to loudly describe what he's doing in his lab, if he's not talking to his pet monkey Steve who is fitted with a thought-translator. Flint is extremely innovative, but almost always comes up with things that don't work as they were intended to, creating even some of the strangest wildlife for the small fictional Pacific Island with a one-product economy - sardines.

It has a perfect saccharine sweet story about Flint's search for love and acceptance by society, who sees him as nothing more than a nerd whom they can make fun of, especially when his experiments go awry. Add to that, his relationship with his father Tim (James Caan) is breaking down no thanks to the latter's taciturn demeanour, while a rookie weather news reporter Sam Sparks (Anna Faris) happens to be in town to cover an event overshadowed by Flint's contraption, which actually works and sends the entire township into a frenzy with its food on demand, falling from the skies. In no time he becomes Mr Popular at the expense of the town's iconic "Baby" Brent (Andy Samberg), and displays the usual syndrome of greed no thanks to a conniving Mayor (Bruce Campbell). There's also some time set aside for a budding romance too.

But what actually worked for the movie, is the strength of the story, packing in plenty in a wildly charged kinetic pace that would simply leave you breathless, and in stitches, all the time. That is no mean feat, especially when the directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller steered very clear of the very tired pop cultural references which animation/comedy tend to trod themselves into. Based on a book by Judi and Ron Barrett, the film has numerous carefully crafted sequences and comedy where the visuals just get chock loaded full of gags, that it requires repeated viewings just to catch them all. Quality of the animation is top notch, while the 3D effects aren't too overwhelming to distract you from the story or characters.

Amongst the subplots, I simply adored and appreciated the father and son story, especially with the episode at its climax because I can clearly relate to it, and I think those who of us who have technologically-phobic parents, would likely be able to identify with that too. That too me was most touching, and somehow emotionally anchored myself to the film, as well as serving as a reminder to lighten up, and be patient.

At the expense of sounding blasphemous, I dare say this film ranks up there with any Pixar offering, as it comes with quality on both the storytelling fronts, as well as the animation, appealing to a wide spectrum of audiences young and old, and especially to the glutton in some of us! The fantastic voice talent lineup provided that extra bit of ingredient to spice up the entire offering, and who can complain when Mr T lends his voice to the hyper-energetic town cop Earl Devereaux?

This is definitely a must watch, as it finds itself into my shortlist of films of the year. Do yourself a favour, get a ticket, and be prepared to be served with a charming, entertaining course of comedy, drama, and fun.

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