Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Blu-ray (2009)

by | Dec 31, 2009 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Blu-ray (2009)

Written & Directed by: Phil Lord & Christopher Miller
Voices: Bill Hader, James Caan, Bruce Campbell
Studio: Sony Pictures Imageworks/Columbia Pictures (Release date: 1/5/10) (2 discs)
Video: 2.35:1 anamorphic/enhanced for 16:9 color 1080p HD
Audio: English or French 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Spanish DD 5.1 (Extras: English 2.0)
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
Extras: “A Recipe for Success: The Making of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs,” “Raining Sunshine” Music Video, Interactive “Raining Sunshine” Sing-a-Long, Behind the Scenes of the music video, “Key Ingredients: The Voices,” Extended scenes, Both full screen and widescreen versions, Directors’ commentary with Bill Hader, DVD-ROM link to online fun, Progression Reels with intros by visual FX supervisor, Early development scenes, Interactive “Splat” Button, Flint’s Food Fight Game, Bonus PSP digital copy of the film, BD-Live
Length: 90 minutes
Rating: ****

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is based on a popular children’s book about a little island where food falls from the sky. Sony has reworked it into a 3D digital animated extravaganza which struck me as awfully silly, and perhaps appealing mostly to very young children rather than whole families – as many of the best animated features have lately achieved. Perhaps the main thing that kept me viewing the feature to the end was what I was perceiving as a sub rosa message to stay away from junk food and watch what you eat. Also, there’s no workable 3D technology for home viewing of DVDs and Blu-rays as yet, and in the theater I can imagine there are plenty of possibilities for food flying at you in 3D – that would make it more interesting.

Flint is a nerdy young inventor whose inventions seem always to have some serious side effects. His father (voiced by James Caan) operates a bait and tackle shop and the village of Swallow Falls – out in the middle of the Atlantic ocean – is at a loss because of the closing of its important sardine-packing plant. Flint tries out his new machine that turns water into food, which at first seems to also fail as it zooms up into the clouds. But then it begins to rain cheeseburgers. The town’s mayor sees an opportunity for tourism, and at the same time voraciously consumes all the foods Flint’s machine is able to cause to fall on the town – in the process he grows to immense size.

Strange food weather brings Sam, a fledgling weather girl, to the town to report on the very odd weather. The machine goes crazy – with the mayor’s help – and finally Flint, his previously-skeptical father, and Sam must fly on another of Flint’s inventions going into the cloud where the food machine has been causing all the chaos. Flint’s talking monkey and a grown-up person who has been the model as a baby for the logo on the sardine cans are side characters on this dangerous voyage.

The whole film seems aimed at the very young, with ludicrous solutions to unbelievable problems, and humor that is mostly childish aside from a very few adult-oriented asides – but not integrated into the story line the way the best animated features have done. The food avalanche is too much. There are fat jokes, even a monkey-droppings joke.  The “Splat” feature in the extras allows you to throw food at the screen while watching the movie.  I gather it’s virtual food (I didn’t try it); hope I’m not wrong! Evidently the digital copy on the second disc can only be transferred to a portable video device by playing first on a Sony PlayStation.  Since I don’t have one I’m not sure why. The wild cutting and zooming around during the attack on the machine in the clouds becomes distracting even in 2D.  This is one of these features which might be better in 3D but is probably over the top in its IMAX conversion now showing, which process isn’t appropriate to such machine-gun editing.

If you have kids to take to this one they’ll probably go nuts over it, but there’s no way it can equal the success of Pixar’s animations, for example.  

 – John Sunier


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