Many people I’ve talked to don’t know that Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is based on a children's book originally printed in 1979. It’s a short story about a couple of kids whose grandpa tells them about a far off land where food rains from the sky. There are no stores in the land of Chewandswallow, because the townspeople just wait for their next meal to fall in their lap, literally.
Well, Sony has taken this one-time bestselling children’s book, and turned it into the next CGI animated film, featuring a plethora of famous voices. In order to flesh the story out a bit more, Sony scrapped the original storybook idea of a grandpa telling a tall tale to his grandkids and opted for something that could run 90 minutes.
Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader) has always wanted to be a great inventor ever since he was little and his mom gave him his very own lab coat. The only problem is Flint’s inventions seem to always go a bit haywire.
Flint lives on a tiny island hidden on the map under the “A” in “Atlantic.” The town was thriving off the profits from sardine sales, until the world found out that sardines were “super gross,” plunging the town into a state of poverty where all they had to eat were sardines that were prepared in a variety of different ways, even candied.
Flint takes it upon himself to save the town by creating a machine that can create food from water. After a mishap trying to get the machine to work, and ruining the opening of the town's newest attraction, the machine shoots up into the sky out of sight. Flint is shunned by the townspeople again, and his dad (voiced by James Gandolfini) is less than impressed.
Then it starts raining hamburgers.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is one of the most inventive and hilarious CGI animated films this side of Pixar. Its writing is clever, its animation is stunning, and its story is fun. There’s more humor here for the adults to get than for kids. It’s always nice to see an animated show treat the adults in the audience with respect, giving them a few references and jokes only they’d understand.
I’m not going to spell out the entire story here. Suffice it to say that the movie is the most fun you’ll have with your kids at the theater this year. It’s so unusual and endearing that it can’t be missed. The collection of zany characters, like the mayor (voiced by Bruce Campbell) only solidify the hilarity. Some will find the local cop (voiced by Mr. T) a racist stereotype. I’m not going to comment either way, but if you’re offended by those kinds of stereotypes you may not want to go.
Everything about this film is fun and enjoyable. It’s so funny and so lighthearted that it will demand repeat viewings. This isn’t something that was just slapped together in the studio with a bunch of famous voices and some silly animation in hopes of making a quick buck. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs has every right to be put up there with big guns produced by Pixar.