Sunday, October 18, 2009

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

I still remember being a kid and reading and rereading
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs written by Judi Barrett and illustrated by Ron Barrett. The timeless tale of the land of Chewandswallow and those engaging illustrations captured my attention every time I picked up the book. What kid doesn’t relish in the idea that pancakes could fall from the sky for breakfast or that a storm of hamburgers would rain down at dinner time? A few months ago when I found out that this amazing children’s story was being turned into a movie I knew I had to see it in theaters—especially when I found out it was going to be in 3D.

A week after the movie opened I had the opportunity to see it in Imax 3D. Although the screenwriters greatly elaborated on the book’s simple plot it was still a great film, and it definitely helped that I appreciated all the “cheese”y jokes and just inherently find the concept of food falling out of the sky mesmerizing and hilarious.

The basic concept of the book is that in the land of Chewandswallow the citizens of the land get their food through the weather. For example, eggs and orange juice could fall from the sky at breakfast time or a split pea soup fog could roll in at supper. In the movie, the writers call the land Swallow Falls—a small island that used to thrive off the sardine business until everyone realized that sardines were gross, leaving the island with no income and only sardines to eat. They also created the character of Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader), a scientist who creates a machine that can turn water into food. The machine gets launched into the sky and voila, hamburgers rain down from the sky. Now the sardine-ridden town can eat anything it wants, and the island is transformed into a tourist attraction called Chew and Swallow. And then things get out of control as the food becomes mutated and grows much too large (perhaps a warning regarding genetically modified food). The bad weather begins with a spaghetti and meatball tornado and things only get worse.

The best part of the film was when Flint generates a gigantic Jell-O palace for his crush, a weather reporter named Sam Sparks (voiced by Anna Faris). They bounce around in the Jell-O, eat the Jell-O, watch the sunset through the Jell-O…it’s quite magical. It was personally meaningful to me because I’ve always wanted to go swimming in a pool of Jell-O. Don’t ask why—I just think it would be an amazing experience. This is probably the closest I’ll ever get to actually doing it, so I enjoyed every moment.

The Jell-O palace for the movie was clearly inspired by the following page from the original book.

All in all, the movie was great—the 3D animation was incredible and the one-liners kept on coming. I loved it. If you were a die hard fan of the book you just have to let go of any purist ideals since they really don’t stick to the original. But what they do cook up is a lot of fun. If you have kids, or if you just think you are still a kid like me, then definitely go see the film. In addition to the film every kid and foodie should have a copy of this book in their collection. You should also probably eat a big meal before going to see the film—even though it is a cartoon it will still make you hungry!

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