Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (2009)

Rated PG. Our ratings: V- 2; L- o; S/N-1 Running time: 1 hour 30 min.

Better than mann?

2009

The Israelites ate manna for forty years, until

they came to a habitable land; they ate manna,

until they came to the border of the land of

Canaan.

Exodus 16:35

Even though it reportedly tasted “like wavers and honey” I suspect, human nature being what it is, that

some Israelites must have grown tired of it. And sure enough, when we read in the Book of Numbers,

we see that some, remembering the varied diet back in Egypt, complained, “there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.” Well, imagine if the diet consisted solely of sardines! That is the plight of a group of unfortunates in this delightful film about unintentional consequences.

A boy genius named Flint lives with his father on an island in the Atlantic Ocean. The islander’s livelihood has depended on sardines, which they catch and then can for the export market. When the market collapses, they have to resort to eating just sardines because they can no longer afford anything else. Flint, who is the typical nerdy boy scorned by his peers because he has produced such strange science fair inventions as spray-on tennis shoes, idolizes scientists, hoping to contribute to the world as they have done. When he was young his mother supported his dreams, but now that she is dead his practical minded father (a strange looking character whose eyes are hidden by large, hedge-like eyebrows) opposes his tinkering, wanting him to join in the family bait business. (Although how practical such a business would be on an island where most folk are unemployed is not dealt with.)

Flint persists in his experimenting, eventually creating a bizarre machine that transforms water into food—but not that approved by nutritionists. Instead it is hamburgers, jellybeans, ice cream, spaghetti and meatballs, and even peanut brittle. The stuff falls from the skies, so much so that everyone can gorge themselves. This soon attracts cruise ships, already known for their gut-stuffing buffets. The town changes its name, and everyone but its villainous mayor idolizes Flint. A weather reporter sent by her network to cover the unusual goings on takes more than a journalist’s interest in the young man. But then Flint’s machine goes berserk, and…

A funny, often over the top cautionary tale with an anti-obesity/indulgence message, this would be a good film to discuss in conjunction with the growing influence of food and cooking TV programs.

For Reflection/Discussion

1. How is Flint the typical outcast/underdog of such cartoon films?

2. How does the film show that we cannot always foresee what the consequences of our actions are? What unintended consequences can you think of, for example, in the realm of nature and agriculture? (Kudzu, anybody? Rabbits; sparrows; certain kinds of fish?)