There have been no shortage of great animated films for children this year, such as the big blockbusters Up, Ice Age: The Meltdown, and Monsters vs Aliens. A lot of book fans are very excited for the upcoming Where The Wild Things Are adaptation, and the same crowd was delighted to hear that childhood favorite Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was being made into a film.
This classic tale of a town where food rains down from the sky has animated genius written all over it, and the film really embraces the creativity. I got to see an early screening in 3D, and it was quite the adventure … although it did leave me very hungry by the end!
Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) always dreamed of becoming a great inventor, although most of his ideas usually ended in failure or exploded in disastrous ways. His mother was a supporter of his dreams, although once she died his fisherman father Tim (James Caan) just could not relate to his quirky son.
Years later Flint is working on a machine that could solve world hunger, and the Mayor (Bruce Campbell) plans to open a theme park hoping to get more tourists and money into the town. Flint's machine goes wacky and causes the park to be destroyed, but then something miraculous happens: the machine works! Food starts raining out of the sky, and the townspeople are delighted. Meanwhile pretty television intern Sam Sparks (Anna Faris) is there to cover the event and gets her big break by reporting the story.
At first this seems like the biggest break for the town, and everyone is very excited. Flint plans different meals for them every day, including some very creative choices like an ice cream snowstorm. The machine gets closer and closer to a danger zone, however, which Flint chooses to ignore because he enjoys the respect from his town and Sam's attention. When the machine starts to have a mind of its own and the food threatens the town, Flint must step up to the plate and become a real hero by destroying his own creation — if he can.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is a sweet movie that children will definitely enjoy, especially those who are a little offbeat since Flint is very bizarre. He makes his own sound effects and dramatically narrates everything he does in the mad scientist lab. It's charming, but yes, just a bit weird. The real winner in this movie is the animation design. Sony Pictures Animation completely embraced the most creative aspects of the story, and it shows once the food starts coming down. The visual representations of the raining food are just fabulous, especially when things begin to get very dangerous and there are giant meatballs and boats made of sandwiches. The ice cream snow storm and Jell-o castle are notable in their beautiful creativity. Parents may enjoy the story and the clever adult moments, but it is really the animation that will sell this film. It's certainly unique.
The voice cast is rounded out by some excellent surprises, including Andy Samberg, Mr. T, Benjamin Bratt, Al Roker, and Neil Patrick Harris in a very small role. If you can't pick him out, listen closely to Flint's monkey friend. Steeeve!
This is Sony Pictures Animation's third big movie after Surf's Up and Open Season, but Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs should be much more successful. With the summer coming to a close this is just the right time to go to the theater with the family! The movie is cute and different, just like its main character, and a great addition to 2009's animated films.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs will be released on September 18.