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|Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
dir-scr Phil Lord, Chris Miller
prd Pam Marsden
voices Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Bruce Campbell, Neil Patrick Harris, Mr T, Andy Samberg, Benjamin Bratt, Bobb'e J Thompson, Will Forte, Al Roker, Lauren Graham
release US/UK 18.Sep.09
09/US Sony 1h30
On any given sundae: Flint and Sam
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
Like a comically deranged Twilight Zone episode, this colourful animated feature underscores its fantastical story with some intriguingly serious issues. But it never gets preachy, and a stream of warped humour will keep adults chuckling all the way through.
Geeky inventor Flint (voiced by Hader) has finally created something that will make him famous: a machine that makes food from water. When it's inadvertently catapulted into the clouds, it starts raining cheeseburgers, much to everyone's delight. Now famous, he remotely programmes the machine to rain everything from ice cream to spaghetti and meatballs. While Flint's mono-browed dad (Caan) doesn't really get him, the greedy mayor (Campbell) wants a piece of his success. Meanwhile, Flint meets weather reporter Sam (Faris), who might actually understand him.
Filmmakers Lord and Miller somehow manage to keep the film utterly silly, with outrageous visual flourishes and zany comical asides, while maintaining a sharp intelligence beneath the surface. As a result, grown-ups will probably find the film funnier than kids, who will be entranced by the visual antics and miss the sophisticated wit. And they quietly hide the serious subtext as well, including a knowing look at celebrity and pointed comments on how tricky it is for people to truly communicate.
But all of this is mere icing on the cake, as it were, for a film that's raucous, nonstop fun. Images of food falling from the sky are pure dreamlike fantasy, especially when Flint's machine overheats and produces oversized culinary delights that look utterly delicious even as they flatten the houses they land on. Of course, this gives the screenwriters plenty of running gags and punning opportunities, which the talented vocal cast run wild with.
Even side characters like Mr T's supercop and Bratt's Guatemalan cameraman get terrific moments along the way, while Flint's relationship with his dad has a surprising resonance. And along the way, there are some superb sequences that combine goofy humour with awkward emotion plus a hint of unhinged weirdness (such as the Jell-O palace). And as global chaos threatens to erupt, along with Mt Leftovers, the film develops into a hysterical disaster movie satire that's brilliantly animated and, for once, makes full use of 3D to throw everything right into our faces.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S
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© 2009 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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