Too much of a good thing?

Let me search my memory. I think — no, I’m positive — this is the first movie I’ve seen where the hero dangles above a chasm lined with razor-sharp peanut brittle, while holding onto a red licorice rope held by his girlfriend.

The characters Sam Sparks

The characters Sam Sparks

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

Two and a half stars

Classified: PG (for brief mild language)

Let me search my memory. I think — no, I’m positive — this is the first movie I’ve seen where the hero dangles above a chasm lined with razor-sharp peanut brittle, while holding onto a red licorice rope held by his girlfriend.

She has a peanut allergy, so that when she gets cut by some brittle and goes into anaphylactic shock and her body swells up, but she refuses to let go. And so the hero bites through the licorice to save her.

You don’t see that every day.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is a 3-D animated comedy based on a children’s book popular in the 1980s, about a kid named Flint who lives on an island in the Atlantic that survives by catching and canning sardines. When the sardine market collapses and the citizens grow tired of eating their own sardines, he decides to save his island by creating a machine that can convert ordinary water into any food on Earth.

Hamburgers, ice cream, jelly beans, you name it.

As the only practising film critic who has visited an actual sardine cannery on the coast of Namibia, I am here to tell you that a large cannery on a small island would make you yearn for such a machine.

Flint wants to be an inventor, but his dad insists he help out in the family fishing tackle and sardine store. His dad possibly needs help because he has no visible eyes, only one bushy eyebrow growing straight across his face like a hairy hedge.

But Flint works late at night in his tree house, which eventually grows into the largest structure in town, and eureka!

Kids eat jelly beans all day long. Gummi bears frolic. Hamburgers grow on trees. The machine seems to create only food kids like. Pizza, but no broccoli.

There is a problem. Because of an error, the machine runs out of control, deluging the island in a cascade of edibles.

It’s a good thing the movie is animated. That makes it easier to create a tornado funnel cloud made of spaghetti and meatballs. Its velocity causes meatballs to spin off and rain down upon the town, looking like — well, never mind what they look like.

There is a giant refuse heap outside town, looking like a slag heap and held back by a dam. In an attempt to stop the food storm, Flint, his girlfriend and his buddy tunnel into a candy mountain — leading to the peanut brittle crisis.

There are other characters, including the town’s bombastic mayor, a Herculean mascot for the sardine ad campaigns, a monkey and so on.

It seemed to me the mountains of fudge, ice cream and pancakes overshot the mark and looked silly, and the airborne food cast a pall over the city, but by golly those kids are plucky. They look a little odd, however; Flint seems to be all nose, like his dad is all eyebrow.

This is the first outing for new Sony digital 3-D imaging software. I continue to find 3-D a distracting nuisance, but it must be said the Sony process produces a sharp, crisp picture, with no visible imprecision between the matches of the images.

There is clear definition between closer and farther elements. I’ve seen a lot of 3-D recently, and in terms of technical quality, this is the best.

Roger Ebert is a syndicated Chicago Sun-Times movie critic.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A worker is constructing the frame of a new building at Clearview Ridge, near 30th Avenue and 67th Street in Red Deer. (Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff).
Alberta wages fell more than any other province in Canada in 2020

Alberta compensation fell by six per cent last year

People board and leave at the Century Park light-rail transit station in Edmonton on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Racism is a real problem:’ Growing number of attacks against Black Muslim women

‘Racism is a real problem:’ Growing number of attacks against Black Muslim women

Alberta Health Services declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Revera Aspen Ridge on Feb. 1. (Photo by Advocate staff)
Two COVID deaths linked to Revera seniors residence in Red Deer

35 active COVID cases at seniors residence

Red Deer musician Lorry Boschman has written a song about love in the time of COVID-19. Proceeds from his single, Romance during a Pandemic, will be donated to the local United Way. (Contributed photo).
Local musician records a song about love in the time of COVID-19 — for charity

Lorry Boschman will donate some proceeds to the United Way

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre can accommodate up to 20 patients requiring a ventilator, says Alberta Health Services.  File photo by Advocate staff
Opinion: UCP government reneging on Red Deer hospital funding

Another year, another Alberta budget and another blow to central Albertans. Budget… Continue reading

Seattle Storm guards Sue Bird, right, and Jordin Canada pose for photos Wednesday, March 3, 2021, on the roof of the Space Needle in Seattle after they raised a flag with the team's new logo on it. Bird re-signed with the Storm earlier in the week. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Sue Bird staying busy with 20th Seattle season on horizon

Sue Bird staying busy with 20th Seattle season on horizon

Lille players celebrate after Jonathan David scored his side's second goal during the French League One soccer match between Lille and Marseille at the Stade Pierre Mauroy stadium in Villeneuve-d'Ascq, France, Wednesday, March 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)
David scores 2 as Lille wins to stay two points clear of PSG

David scores 2 as Lille wins to stay two points clear of PSG

Canada defender Shelina Zadorsky, right, passes the ball in front of Argentina forward Sole Jaimes (9) during the second half of a SheBelieves Cup women's soccer match, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. Alphonso Davies and Shelina Zadorsky have been named Canada Soccer’s players of the month for February. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Phelan M. Ebenhack
Davies, Zadorsky named Canada Soccer’s players of the month for February

Davies, Zadorsky named Canada Soccer’s players of the month for February

Manchester United's Fred, left, and Crystal Palace's Jordan Ayew challenge for the ball during the English Premier League soccer match between Crystal Palace and Manchester United at Selhurst Park stadium in London, England, Wednesday, March 3, 2021. (Mike Hewitt/Pool via AP)
Grueling season starting to catch up with Man U, Leicester

Grueling season starting to catch up with Man U, Leicester

Gary Sanchez goes deep, Yankees hit three home runs to beat Blue Jays 4-1

Gary Sanchez goes deep, Yankees hit three home runs to beat Blue Jays 4-1

Toronto Raptors guard Norman Powell (24) dunks as Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Detroit, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. The undermanned Toronto Raptors, down five players and six members of their coaching staff due to health and safety protocols, are scheduled to host the Detroit Pistons in their first action since last Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Carlos Osorio
Powell, Lowry do their bit but undermanned Raptors beaten handily by the Pistons

Powell, Lowry do their bit but undermanned Raptors beaten handily by the Pistons

Canada's Ghislaine Landry, left, runs past France players during the Women's Rugby Sevens World Cup in San Francisco, Friday, July 20, 2018. The HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, grounded last year by the pandemic, will return for the women in May. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jeff Chiu
World Rugby unveils condensed 2021 sevens schedule with Vancouver a question-mark

World Rugby unveils condensed 2021 sevens schedule with Vancouver a question-mark

Most Read