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:: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (3D)

There was a time when I couldn’t bear the thought of sitting through a cartoon movie. I thought I’d outgrown animation along with my Barbie dolls and Care Bear. But, Hollywood has given cartoons a modern, savvy update. And, now animation films, like Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, can offer a message adults can take home too, as well as provide an escape for the inner child. Like many Hollywood scripts today, the premise for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is actually plucked from the pages of a book – a bestselling children’s tome of the same name by Ron and Judi Barrett.

It follows the story of a socially awkward, wannabe inventor, Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader), who has a fondness for creating bizarre contraptions, from spray-on shoes to a monkey thought translator. But, his inventions are never really recognised for the “genius” he believes they are in his small town. And, his latest machine, designed to turn water into food, seems to be almost the nail in the coffin for his inventor dreams. It spirals out of control, wreaking havoc on the town – including its new tourism fun park, Sardine Land - before rocketing up into the clouds. There is a poignant moment when Flint is caught behind the glass of a giant fish bowl in the aftermath of the destruction his invention has caused and the townsfolk crowd around chanting angrily at him.

But then, something amazing happens – cheeseburgers start raining from the sky – and, it seems, his machine may have actually worked! Suddenly, the community does an about-face and set about happily enjoying the fruits of his labour via his “food weather” invention. At the same time, Flint forges a friendship with Sam Sparks (Anna Faris, of The House Bunny fame), a weather girl, who comes to town to cover “the greatest weather phenomenon in history”. However, for Flint, the good times can’t last. When people greedily ask for more and more food, the machine starts behaving erratically, unleashing spaghetti tornadoes and giant meatballs. It’s up to Flint and Sam to work together to shut down the machine and return the town to its former state.

This film will provide food for thought about the western world’s greedy relationship with food (while the rest of the world goes hungry) – particularly the convenience of fast food, where you don’t have to lift a finger and food pretty much falls on your plate, like in the film. Of course, this laissez-faire relationship with food has led to alarming levels of obesity worldwide (as demonstrated by Mayor Shelbourne’s ballooning figure in the film).

The film also touches on the issue of landfill, with excess food in the film being catapulted out of sight, creating an ever-growing mound of rubbish - “out of sight, out of mind” being the attitude, as it can be in real life. An important message. Listen out too for the voice of Mr. T, who plays the by-the-rules town cop, Earl Devereaux, with a telltale T-shaped bald patch on his head! Worth a look.