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Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Posted by tinako on September 20, 2009

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

I went with my family to see Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs today (no spoilers).  This was a very funny movie which I highly recommend.  I think most of the jokes were over the heads of our children, but they enjoyed the action and we loved the writing.  I had quite a few thoughts about it, so I will jump around and hopefully make some kind of sense.

I was apprehensive because I wondered if as a vegan I would find all the raining meat upsetting.  I also wondered whether it would make my kids, who are vegetarian, want more of the junk foods that the trailer seemed to be so full of.  I know they wouldn’t want meat, but there was lots of ice cream and candy.  There were very few whole foods.

I paid attention to my thoughts as I watched the movie, and found that since the food really was (mostly) all vegan, it didn’t bother me at all.  Except for the sardines, which did bother me, it did not come from animals, but from water, converted by a machine in the sky.  So when bigger and bigger “steaks” flopped on the ground, so what?   I also considered it carefully and decided that, vegan or not, I had no interest in eating any of it.  I don’t miss steak.  At all.

I’m not really sure why.  I can’t figure out if it’s because craving steak is just a bad habit I have lost, or if I have so fully ingrained my long-time habit of not eating steak, that even when given a completely ethical one, I don’t want it.

An acquaintance of mine, who is really very nice, does not get this.  I see her every few months or so, and each time, she is excited to tell me that she visited some farm and they were treating the animals well there.  “Hmmm,” I say.  She takes that as encouragement and goes on to say, “So, I’ll get you the address, and then you could have it!”  For a moment I don’t know what to say.  I take a second to see that from her point of view, I am deprived of this wonderful product and thanks to her sleuthing I can have it again.  As kindly as I can I tell her that I’m not interested.  She will ask why, and I can point out some of the problems that are still involved, but I can’t seem to convince her that I really, really, really, truly, do not ever want to consume that product again.  Between you and me, I do not want to put in my mouth: dead animals, mammary secretions, or the waste byproduct of a reproductive cycle.  Thanks anyway.

I think I got the point across once when she asked if I would eat a chicken if I had kept it as a pet and which died of natural causes.   I was actually speechless for a few seconds.  Do people eat their pets?  I pointed to my Dad’s dog, who was staying with us, and replied that I would no more eat a dead chicken than I would eat Hallie.  Then I apologized to Hallie for dragging him into it.

This stuff is no longer food to me.  Animals are not food.  It sticks in my craw to call animal flesh “meat,” as though it is something to eat.  There may be cannibals living somewhere in the world today, but how does it make you feel to refer to their victims as “meat”?   Does it feel fine just because they call it that?  I give in and call animal flesh “meat” because if I called it a carcass or a corpse people would get all uptight.

Anyway, all of this rambling is to the point that steak is not food to me any more, whether it comes from a raincloud or a factory farm.

Which brings me to the second thing I noticed about this movie.  Most people give no more thought to where their food comes from than if it really did come raining down from the sky.  The horrors of factory farming, or any slaughter at all, are as far away and as unconsidered as a magical machine over the rainbow.  There was no mention in the movie of the difference in origin of this new food.

Another thing I noticed was that despite eating at least three huge meals per day of junk food, nobody but the Mayor gained weight.  Only one boy overate candy and got sick.  Maybe this water-food was healthy, too.  Oh, except that it was made by mutating the water by exposing it to radiation.  Or something.

Another question I asked myself: Will it make non-vegans hungry?  Will it inspire unhealthy habits?  There was an enormous liquid cheese fountain that made me laugh and gag at the same time, so afterwards I asked my family if that looked good to them, did it make them want to have some.  The vote was one yes, three no’s.  My daughter said none of it made her hungry, but my son liked the ice cream.  I didn’t have the heart to ask my husband what he thought of the 5 lb. steaks.  So, inconclusive.

My last point.  I have been reading up on Buddhism, which I’m finding to be a fascinating psychology, and they make the point that attachment to desire is the cause of all suffering.  The townspeople in this movie were so wrapped up in their desire for this food.  They would desperately pester the inventor to send their favorite meals.  They would gorge themselves on it.  They were only happy when it kept coming, and the thought that the inventor might not continue made those who knew frantic, practically insane.  It was just so important to them.  And it was all great until it wasn’t.

We’re human.  We need food.  We like good food.  We desire certain foods.  But let’s get a grip.


6 Responses to “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”

  1. I enjoyed your movie review! Meatballs falling from the sky sounds like a horrible thing, but I see your point: if they’re made from water, it’s OK. They might even be those Nate’s frozen ones!

    Laughed at your cheese quiz; before going vegan I enjoyed cheese a lot but was never big on aerosol cheese food product or that gelatinous yellow block of oily mucus called Velveeta. Some folks enjoy it, but I hold out hope that one day they’ll try some real food and like it better.

    Glad to hear you are exploring Buddhism. A book I’d recommend: Opening The Hand Of Thought, by Kosho Uchiyama. It really helps to put some of the concepts into sensible terms, then gives you just enough additional information to make you want more.

    • tinako said

      Thanks, I’ll check out the book.

      It was kind of you to classify this as a review. I would have called it a wander.

      But it was a great flick, and we got to wear those super-cool glasses, too.

  2. Wow…thank you sooo much for your discussion of this movie! My husband and I were just talking about taking our kids to see it today. Because it is not rated G, we decided we wouldn’t take the kids. Whew…that excused me from having to discuss whether it was or wasn’t appropriate to take our kids to a movie where they showed meat raining from the sky, LOL! I felt like I had dodged a bullet, LOL! However, thanks to your post, I don’t think I have to worry, too much. The message about the perils of attachment seem to make the movie worthwhile. (Still..our kids won’t see it at this age. The oldest is 4, so we’ll wait a bit.) As for your friend…funny how some people just don’t understand that you no longer have a taste for meat. It’s simply unfathomable to them. But I liked that you said you would no more eat a dead chicken than you would eat your dog. I’m like you- I lost the taste for flesh foods a long time ago. After 25 years, I don’t even like the taste of mock meats anymore. For the most part, I simply prefer the tastes of plant based foods.

    • tinako said

      I agree that 4 is too young for this movie. I think it was PG for language, and I barely heard one character say “damn,” as an adjective. I don’t think there was any violence, but I think they younger kids just wouldn’t get much. The dialogue was, hmm, advanced I guess. Fast, not always clear, often required cultural in-knowledge. I also have to say that there were two previews that were making me tear my hair out. There was one for Avatar and one for Disney’s A Christmas Carol. There was no actual violence shown, but the first was really creepy mutants and soldiers and robots, all running around with weapons, and the music was intense, etc. The second has ghosts. I noticed that the second one was rated “approved for appropriate audiences.” What the heck does that mean? It is hard enough to get young kids to agree to sit in the loud dark to watch a funny movie, and first we had to sit through that stuff.

      I think my friend is probably trying to make herself feel better about her choices. If she can convince me that milk from this farm is ethical, then she doesn’t have to face what she is clearly questioning in her own actions. She is very interested and compassionate and asks me questions. And she does really listen; when she comes back months later, she has found a farm that doesn’t do “X.” When she presses me, I respond, “Yes, but do they do Y? I don’t see how they can stay in business without doing that.” And then she’s not so sure. She wants to know the truth, but she’s looking for the loophole, you know?

  3. Well then, DOUBLE thank you for sharing info about Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. I really put a lot of effort into keeping away from things that just aren’t age appropriate. The previews alone would be too much. (However, have you seen Ponyo? Great movie. The whole family enjoyed it.)

    As for your friend…glad she’s so open-minded. Since I don’t know her, I don’t know if it’s appropriate for her or not, but I’m wondering if the book “Skinny B.” (Second word…Starts with “B.” Rhymes with “Witch.”) would be of interest and of help??? I wasn’t crazy about the title or the language the authors used in that book. But despite all that I knew, (and I knew a lot. I read a lot of dry books on these issues back in the day,) I stayed vegetarian for eons. I just wouldn’t give up cheese, or the convenience of eating foods that included eggs in the ingredients. Then I read the Skinny B. book, and I jumped off the fence about eggs and dairy so fast, you would have thought someone had poked me with a hot poker. If nothing else, that particular book might put an end to your friend’s questions about whether or not it’s worth it to drink milk under any circumstance at all. JMO. Feel free to disregard it if it doesn’t fit the circumstance.


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