Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Video review: "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs"

"Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" falls into that spectrum of animation aimed squarely at kids. It's clear to me that "Meatballs" is a well-made film, even if I didn't like it all that much. I simply am not the target audience.

It's about a scientist, Flint Lockwood, who invents a machine that can turn water into food. Through a series of misadventures, his gizmo gets launched into the stratosphere over the island town of Chewsandswallows, resulting in a downpour of burgers, pizza, steak and candy whenever it rains.

Flint had been the town screw-up, but now he's hailed as a hero. He even finds a love interest in Sam Sparks, an intern at the Weather Channel who gets her big break when she's sent to cover the weird weather. Sam's a brainiac who is forced to hide behind a veneer of weather-girl dorkiness, but Flint sees through it.

Trouble looms when the food keeps getting bigger and bigger, until Buick-sized meatballs are raining down and causing havoc.

Although anyone over the age of 10 may find the movie tedious, "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" is likely to leave young audiences hungry for more.

Video extras are rather meager with the DVD, but really pile on the buffet in the Blu-ray version. (A DVD/Blu-ray combo is available, which also includes a digital copy.)

Both versions come with a commentary track by co-directors/writers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller plus star Bill Hader, who did the voice of Flint -- few insights, but moderately entertaining.

The making-of and voice casting documentaries are pretty typical fare; I liked the shots of animators working at their computers with big plates of food close at hand so they could study how spaghetti behaves when whirled about, or how a burger plops when dropped.

There's also two extended scenes; featurettes detailing the animation process; the "Raining Sunshine" music video; a "Food Fight" Space Invaders-type game; and a "splat mode" where kids can throw digital food at the screen while watching the movie.

Movie: 2.5 stars
Extras: 3.5 stars

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