One of the main ideas in the film Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is about the constant internal battle many people have. External forces like the idea a person has to change themselves to be accepted in their society plays a role in this film, but the movie also includes the idea that being different can be a good thing since it leads to innovative ideas. However, this mostly applies to Flint Lockwood because though he is seen as an outsider in his town, he doesn’t have to change himself very much. He is still listened to when he makes new inventions and is celebrated when he makes the machine to produce food from water.

The mayor of the town does take control of some aspects of Flint’s machine, yet if it was a woman who made something so important, it is likely she would’ve been taken out of the public spotlight. Sam Sparks is a character who is like Flint but she is treated differently due to being a woman. Both of these characters received bullying when they were younger for being different but Sam is forced into the small box of an acceptable woman as she gets older whereas Flint can continue his eccentric habits. She even actively ignores her own needs, like needing glasses to see and wears an impractical hairstyle for her work because it is the only way she will have a chance to be taken seriously.

In the beginning she gets what is believed to be a terrible work assignment that is so bad the news station would only send an intern to do it. Sam is also unqualified for the position and it shows when she goes on air the first time and makes mistakes. This purposeful way of making her do something she is unprepared for is a form of sabotage.

The themes in the movie feature messages abut inequality in the workplace and consumer culture. The idea of emphasized femininity is contributing to the workplace inequality and is seen in relation to Sam Sparks. She is pretty, dumbed down and poses no threat to any of the men working at the TV station. One line from the film is “Oh just send the intern. She’s cute and she’s super perky,” followed by “Well those are the only things we look for in a weather person.” This is a reflection on how positions are limited based on looks for jobs that a women may get in the television industry.

When a woman is on TV, they are in the less watched time spaces and despite this, almost all female news reporters are slim and beautiful to entice people into watching their channels. Until recently there were very few woman announcers and even though the number is growing, it is almost exclusive that they are women who look like models. This furthers the idea that women have to look a specific way to work in certain jobs, like being the image of emphasized femininity to work on television. Seeing Sam struggle to fit into this role when she would be able to do it better while wearing a more practical outfit for her job roles is how this is represented in the film.

Marketing and consumer culture also play a part because Swallow Falls went from being a completely unknown island to playing a massive part in consumerism. This was because of the novelty of food falling from the sky, it was pushed hard in the television industry as a prime destination to visit, which put a strain on the machines production and created mass amounts of waste. Near the beginning when the amount of food produced was controlled and in a smaller amount, the town was able to dispose of it but it quickly showed the flaws when more waste was produced. Using the “Outtasighter” machine to catapult uneaten food away to a place they could not see it, therefore it was “out of sight and out of mind” and wouldn’t have to be dealt with. This way of thinking is common, as it is how western countries operate and they also send large portions of garbage to landfills or even export it to other countries to keep it out of the sight of the people that live in those areas.

Another issue with the film is the way that Sam feels the need to dumb herself down and act like she doesn’t have a care in the world. She shows many times that she is intelligent both in weather related things, which she has loved since she was a child, and with other chemistry disciplines. She could easily make the inventions that Flint does, but as a child she was pushed away from pursuing science related subjects because it didn’t suit girls and that is another example of her being forced into the narrow definition of a proper woman.

I love this film because of its fun and quirky nature and many of the issues listed before do get resolved in the end. That includes the issue of Sam’s looks being tied directly into how she is received by others as shown in the scene where she is trying to tell the news channel that there is a hurricane coming. Rather than being listened to, as anyone else would be, she is laughed at and kicked off the air because she doesn’t fit exactly into the standards that are expected of her. In later films, she also keeps the new look which shows her confidence has grown. Her concerns are brushed aside in this move and even though she is the first person to think something may be wrong, nobody takes it seriously until the threat is too big to handle. Other issues like consumerism are also shown why exactly they are harmful, as the build up from all the unnecessary waste takes over the town, which I also think is a good message to take away from the film.

I think even with limitations of this being a movie aimed towards children, the messages that they show are well done. Topics in kids movies tend to not be developed extensively and having Sam break away from being constrained in the idea of what a woman should be shows other people who watch this film that not adhering to the rules can be helpful. She goes from being someone who wouldn’t have contributed very much to the story to becoming one of the heroes through using her intelligence. Something that could be changed is that Sam finds herself on her own, rather than needing to be encouraged by FIint to embrace how she truly is. By using this route, it would show that Sam was the one who managed to accept herself, rather then someone else telling her that it is okay to live in a way that is authentic to herself. If I include the sequel film, I wish that she was taken more seriously, all of her concerns are still not heard and continues the idea that her ideas are never important.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is a great film that shows different messages in a lighthearted but effective way. The ideas behind many of the topics are less obvious and may be harder to notice as society is so used to seeing these messages from films. Looking more critically at any film will reveal biased ideas like the ones featured here, whether they are intentionally placed within the narrative or because it is so familiar.