But when Flint creates a device that transforms water into food and accidentally launches it into the sky, he has his first success. As it rains hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, and steaks, Flint becomes the town hero. He also finds a romantic interest in a weather intern named Sam Sparks who is reporting on the phenomenon.
But as Flint and the town put more and more demands on the machine, it starts going haywire. Soon the entire world finds itself in a food weather catastrophe and only Flint and his friends can save them.
“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” is rated PG for brief mild language.
Need more information? OK. “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” was a pleasant surprise. I was pretty unimpressed with the trailers and commercials and had no particular desire to see the film. But as the movie unfolded in 3-D glory, I found myself laughing at one joke after another. The final result is one of the best animated films this year.
One of my favorite things about this movie is the little side jokes. The ‘rat-birds’ generate a lot of laughs when they first debut, but they keep appearing again and again and again. And they generate laughs each time. (One carries away a little boy and his friends on the ground yell skyward, “Just play dead!!”) In another scene Flint attempts to distract some people from a line of questioning by showing them a viral video. Up pops a film of a kitten singing, “Fight the power!!” It’s totally random and hilarious. In another scene it snows chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry ice cream in a Neapolitan pattern. Dozens of kids do facedown snow angels in the chocolate and vanilla ice cream. One little dork dives into the strawberry “My favorite!” This is just a small sampling of the fun jokes that this movie is filled with.
“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” also has a pretty good voice cast. Bill Hader probably isn’t the first guy you would think of to lead a film, but he does a fine job as Flint Lockwood. Anna Faris is also great as Sam Sparks. She does a good job playing an intelligent girl masquerading as a ditz. But I have to admit that I thought Drew Barrymore was doing the voice until I saw the credits. I also thought Tim Lockwood was voiced by James Gandolfini rather than James Caan. Caan has a hilarious scene in the finale as he attempts to express his feelings towards his son. And while good performances are delivered by Andy Samberg as ‘Baby’ Brent, Bruce Campbell as Mayor Shelbourne, and Benjamin Bratt as Manny, the real standout is Mr. T. He plays local cop Earl Devereaux. Mr. T has done a lot of cartoons in the past, but I forgot how perfect his voice was for animation until I saw this. And when Earl takes his hat off, prepare for a funny nod to Mr. T himself.
But the one that really steals the show is the aforementioned gummi bear murdering monkey, Steve. Voiced minimally by Neil Patrick Harris, the monkey with a translator provides laugh after laugh. Whatever he’s doing in the background is funny. In one scene he tries to pick bugs out of Tim’s moustache. In another scene he’s licking a microphone. In another he’s throwing chocolate snowballs… or so it seems. Steve is likely to be everyone’s favorite character walking out of this movie.
The 3-D works pretty well in “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.” As you might expect, any scene where there’s stuff raining out of the sky looks fantastic in 3-D. The colorful clouds, Jello mansion, and food avalanches are all enhanced by the effect. This is a case where the 3-D gimmick helps the animation rather than overwhelming it.
Normally I’d say what my kids think of an animated film. Of course they loved it. But more importantly, this is a movie that adults would enjoy, too. I’d recommend it to adults that don’t have kids to take to the theaters. It’s a lot of fun.
What Didn’t Work:
I’ll also add that though I don’t recall ever having read the book, the movie is quite different from it based on what I’ve heard. Beyond the idea of food falling from the sky, there’s very little that’s similar… unless the children’s book featured monkeys murdering gummi bears. That doesn’t seem likely.
The Bottom Line: