Australian Council on Children and the Media

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

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Short takes

Parental guidance under 6 (mild scary scenes, crude humour)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
  • a review of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 26 November 2009.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 6 Parental guidance due to mild scary scenes and crude humour
Children 6 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: None
Length 90 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is an animated fantasy loosely based on the 1978 book (Ron and Judi Barrett) by the same name. It tells the story of Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader), a young scientist trying to invent the ultimate invention with the hope of upgrading his geek status to a popular and well-respected member of the Swallow Falls community. Flint has been tormented and doubted by many people throughout his life including his father (James Caan) who struggles to understand his son and to show him he cares. Flint’s only firm-believer was his mother. However, after her death when he was ten years old, Flint was left with only her inspiring words and her gift of a white scientist coat to encourage his creative ingenuity.

The failure of the town’s local sardine export company has meant that the residents of Swallow Falls are forced to rely solely on sardines for their livelihood. When Flint finally succeeds in inventing a machine that turns rain into food he is instantly famous and praised as a hero for saving the town from inevitable financial ruin. Mayor Shelbourne (Bruce Campbell) is particularly keen to capitalise on the food falling from the sky concept in a hope of making his town and himself the biggest and most powerful in the world. With the Mayor’s greed and Flint’s need to please, the two create a machine that ensures a smorgasbord of delectable delights plummet to the town three times a day, every day. 

It is not long however before the food begins to get bigger and bigger and Flint grows increasingly concerned about the safety of the machine and the residents of the town. When Flint attempts to shut down the machine, he is stopped by the mayor and a battle begins as Flint and a few friends attempt to save the town from ultimate food doom.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

End of the world, natural disasters

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some physical violence and personal abuse in this movie including:

  • Flint is made fun of as a child at school because he shows off his new science invention. The other kids laugh and point and call him a ‘freak’
  • Sam (Anna Faris) is made fun of as a child at school because she is smart and wears glasses.  The other kids laugh and point and call her ‘four eyes’
  • Policeman warns the adult Flint not to cause any trouble with his science inventions.  The policeman’s demeanour is threatening albeit humorous.
  • Policeman tackles a jaywalker
  • A personified sardine is seen to fall out of his fish tank and then is eaten by a seagull
  • Flint throws ice-cream snowballs quite hard at small children and adults.  Many are seen to be knocked to the ground or knocked over.
  • Flint falls out of the jelly house and is heard falling from a distance with an ‘ow’
  • The mayor of the town is aggressive to Flint when he attempts to stop the weather maker from making more food storms.  He throws objects at Flint and the machinery to stop him.
  • People are seen looting following the food storm that destroys the town
  • The building and laboratory catch fire after the food storm hits.
  • Plane is chased by a rogue pizza
  • The town is ruined by the smorgasbord storm and the breaking of the excess food wall- the town folk are seen fleeing screaming from the town and escaping on toast boats. 
  • Comments are made by the town folk and the news reporters about the end of the world.
  • Roast chickens with no heads attack Flint, Sam and Brent

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, children under the age of five, could be concerned about :

  • A spaghetti and meatball hurricane hitting the town and cars, buildings and people are hit, crushed and blown about
  • Many scenes of large food falling from the sky and hitting people, cars and buildings.
  • A small child is seen to go into a food coma when he eats too many sweets
  • The reference to the death of Flint’s mother when he was only ten years old.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Nothing of concern

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing of concern

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

  • One scene where Sam and Flint kiss on the lips.
  • One scene where Brent undresses himself to his underwear in a public place.

Use of substances

None of concern

Coarse language

Some name-calling including "nerd" and "freak".

In a nutshell

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is a unique animated film with many funny characters and scenes that are sure to entertain both children and adults alike.

The main messages from this movie are to believe in yourself as a unique person with unlimited potential. Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include integrity and honesty.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • school bullying and teasing
  • greed (power and gluttony).
  • the importance of healthy eating.

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