September 21, 2009 -- The new 3D animation from Sony, “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs,” ranks up there with “Coraline” in its clever use of 3D animation, better in that regard than Oscar favorite “Up,” which looks about the same in 2D as it does in 3D. The visuals are colorful and imaginative, the characters are interesting, the story, not so much so.
The film's main character is a scientist named Flint Lockwood who lives on an island where the economy has fallen on hard times with the crash of the fishing industry. Lockwood's father, Tim, runs a bait shop and disapproves of his son's experiments. The island's mayor calls in a favor to get network TV coverage of the unveiling of a theme park to attract tourists. A young woman weather station intern, Sam Sparks, gets the assignment. At the unveiling, one of Flint's experiments goes awry, causing massive destruction at the theme park. As a side effect, however, food starts falling from the sky. Suddenly, Sam Sparks has a real story and Flint becomes the town's hero by providing food and a reason for tourists to visit.
Of course something goes wrong with Flint's experiment and he must undertake a daring mission to save the world from a deluge of weirdly mutating food. Along the way, there are subplots involving a romance between Flint and Sam and the strained relationship between Flint and his father. Another subplot involves the mayor's increasingly erratic and dangerous behavior, not to mention his alarming weight gain. There are several wild scenes in the movie, including a spaghetti tornado and a thunderstorm composed of mutated food, including kung-fu chicken breasts. One of the funnier scenes has giant corn on the cob rolling along the Great Wall of China, and a fortune cookie that is eerily accurate.
Of course this film could be viewed as a commentary about junk food, overeating, obesity and the dangers of genetically-modified food. However, there seems to be even less point in deconstructing this happy-go-lucky film than any other. It is designed for laughs and not much more. There is also another slim moral to the story about being yourself and not conforming to society's norms. There is an even deeper hidden moral throwing away food while half the world doesn't have enough of it. While the story is clumsy, the visuals and the nice characterizations carry the movie along well enough. The film makes very effective use of 3D effects. This film is uneven, but it has enough effective humor, good characters and nice 3D animation to make an entertaining movie. This film rates a B.
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