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"Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" is Autumn's family movie in 2009 - CinemaDave

Oct. 11th, 2009 09:44 am "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" is Autumn's family movie in 2009

"Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" is an odd success. Released last month at the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Discovery IMAX Theater, this one hour and twenty one minute animated feature in 3 D has earned 87 million dollars in three weeks and has stayed consistent as a box office draw. Written in 1978 by Judi Barret and illustrated by former husband Ron Barret, "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" deals with the dismal social science known as economics.

Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader) is a science nerd. His loving but gruff father Tim Lockwood (James Caan) prefers that his son stop day dreaming about science and tries to get Flint to follow in his footsteps, to assume his bait shop business. After seemingly failing with every scientific discovery imaginable (creating a race of mutating flying rats), Flint invents a machine that converts weather into food.

The town goat becomes the community savior. Flint's island goes under the microscope of mainstream media. Flint meets the beauty queen Sam Sparks (Anna Farris), who happens to be a closet science nerd. As Flint and his community politicians become full of hubris, Mother Nature decides to reboot the balance of environment.

As a family diversion, "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" holds together. This animation feature suffers from action sequences that seem to be directed by a teenager with ADD - Attention Deficit Disorder. Instead of drawing people closer to the action, audience members seemed to lean backwards, away from the frenetic and busy screen.

The film works with character development. Tim Lockwood's lack of emotion (the character's eyes are hidden by his bushy eyebrows) creates some touching moments with his "special" son, Flint. Flint's love interest, Sam Sparks, is both vulnerable and assertive. Anna Farris is perhaps the only young actress today who can manage to make an animated character both vulnerable and sexy. This columnist would like to see Sam Sparks on the cover of "Playboy" instead of Marge Simpson.

Mr. T scores in this motion picture as a bullying police officer who spoils his son. As the voice of Flint Lockwood, "Saturday Night Live" ensemble player Bill Hader is the master of ceremonies of this 3 Dimensional epic.

In terms of family entertainment, "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" holds up. It should be interesting to see if "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" reaches the 100 million dollar plateau, given that "Where the Wild Things Are" opens this weekend.

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