CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS
**** (out of 5)
September 18, 2009
Bill Hader as FLINT LOCKWOOD
Anna Faris as SAM SPARKS
James Caan as TIM LOCKWOOD
Andy Samberg as BABY BRENT
Bruce Campbell as MAYOR SHLEBOURNE
Mr. T as EARL DEVEREAUX
Bobb’e J. Thompson as CAL DEVEREAUX
Studio: Sony Animation Studios
Directed by: Phil Lord & Chris Miller
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
One of my favorite books as a child was the picture book “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.” However, when I heard they were making a CGI feature film based on the book, I was a bit nervous. Those who have read the original book know that there’s not a lot of story in the pages, but rather a situational oddity of this little town where food fell from the sky.
Then I saw the movie, and I have to say that I was very impressed. The filmmakers added a feature-length story to the concept, rather than just padding out the original string of events, which is what happened with the relatively mediocre “The Polar Express.” With the feature film “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” the movie became what the book could have been.
In the film, Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) is a would-be inventor living in Swallow Falls, which is known for its sardines. Rather than working with his dad at the sardine shack, Flint wants to become a rock star scientists like Nikola Tesla. After a string of lousy inventions, Flint develops a machine that will turn water into food. When the machine is launched into the stratosphere during a freak accident, it starts to convert precipitation into food, which falls from the sky. This makes Flint one of the most popular guys in town… until things go horribly awry.
Over the years, I have come to greatly appreciate computer animated movies. With a few exceptions (cough, cough, “Shark Tale”), they have been highly innovating and a treat to watch. In general, these movies have been great for kids and adults, which is why they do so well at the box office. “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” is no exception.
Still, it’s unlike any animated feature you’re going to see this year or any other. It’s way out there in terms of concept and story, but in a good way. Whether you’re flying into a spaghetti tornado with our heroes or falling down a cave lined with shards of peanut brittle, this film will take you to places you’ve never been to.
Like high quality animation products like the Pixar films and “The Simpsons” television show, “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” has plenty of subtle humor for grown ups, which is tossed in and not explained. If you catch the gags, you’ll laugh. If you miss them, you won’t. The film doesn’t insult its audience by walking anybody through the jokes.
But it’s not just irreverent humor and high-quality animation that grown-ups can enjoy. “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” has plenty of slapstick, physical humor and silliness for kids to enjoy as well.
This film also carries on the tradition of major CGI releases in 3D. Like “Up” and “Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs,” “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” is presented in digital 3D, which enhances the moviegoing experience and gives you something that you can’t get with your home video set-up.
The real heart behind this film comes from its voice cast, which doesn’t contain the biggest celebrities, but rather those that will work best in the film. Bill Hader and Anna Faris lead the cast, but supporting actors like James Caan, Bruce Campbell and even Mr. T make some great appearances as well.
“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” is a treat, if you’ll pardon the pun, for the whole family.