Gluttony is often thought of as an old-fashioned no-no. These days, people get more worked up about the sexier sins – things like lying, murder and, well, those involving sex.
It was hard not to think about gluttony, though, while watching “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.” A computer-animated adaptation of a children’s picture book, the movie delivers exactly what the title promises: manna – and much, much more – from heaven.
Flint Lockwood, the film’s hero, is a wannabe inventor who has finally hit upon success. His latest machine transforms water into ready-made meals. When a mishap sends the invention into the atmosphere, however, it starts raining ketchup and hot dogs.
At first, everyone hails Flint as a hero, even renaming their town Chewandswallow. People walk around with their heads tilted back and their mouths open. Instead of sledding down a hill of snow, kids frolic in ice cream. A new, upscale restaurant opens – sans roof. And in case that wasn’t enough excess, the movie is also in 3-D.
Then things start to go wrong, and I don’t mean the fact that the mayor quadruples in size. The food itself grows larger, until the chance of being flattened by a giant slice of bread becomes a distinct possibility.
“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” is visually inventive and exceptionally witty, yet the most striking thing about the movie is the way it evolves into a parable of conspicuous consumption – a modern phenomenon of which gluttony is an essential element.
The town of Chewandswallow, in fact, could stand in for all of America, the land of half-pound burgers, super-size sodas and all-you-can-eat buffets. Certainly the recession has curtailed these tendencies a bit – we’re being forced to veer away from big meals, big houses and big cars - but keep in mind that the recession itself was caused, to a significant degree, by our gluttonous desire to attain things we didn’t need and couldn’t afford.
In our obesity age, gluttony might actually be one of the more relevant sins. Did those 3-D glasses affect my thinking, or would you agree?